Webber Wentzel is proud to be a truly South African law firm and as such, our diversity takes top priority. Harnessing our employees’ and stakeholders’ varied experience, perspectives and backgrounds is a strategic imperative to improve the quality of the work we deliver. This also assists us to realise our vision to be the law firm of choice in Africa for complex commercial matters and dispute resolution.
As a firm, we embrace and encourage transformation, within our organisation and in the companies we work with. We strive to accurately reflect the demographics of the South African population and our recruitment, training and development initiatives reflect this commitment. As such, in May 2011, Webber Wentzel successfully completed the BBBEE verification process with the National Empowerment Rating Agency of South Africa (NERA SA) and has been awarded a Level Four Contributor BEE verification status.
Corporate Social Investment forms an integral part of our business approach and we proactively seek out opportunities to improve and enrich the communities in the regions in which we operate.
Equity and management
Webber Wentzel is a professional partnership in which the equity partners hold equity, which is determined and varies from year to year. Previously disadvantaged individuals - as defined in the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act, 2003 (the BEE Act) - hold approximately 17.5% of the equity in the firm. We endeavour to have 25.1% black ownership by 1 March 2014.
Webber Wentzel is an equal opportunity employer, committed to employment equity at all levels of employment within the firm. For this purpose the firm established an employment equity committee and an employment equity policy to guide the committee. The firm has been listed in the South African government gazette as an employer that has submitted the applicable equity report in compliance with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act. At present, more than 50% of our junior attorneys and candidate attorneys are previously disadvantaged individuals.
Webber Wentzel has established a transformation committee to promote and oversee transformation within the organisation. The committee has developed a transformation statement and implemented a number of policies and initiatives to assist the firm in reaching its transformation objectives.
Webber Wentzel is committed to being a firm that:
Developing, training and advancing black attorneys
The previously disadvantaged professionals working at Webber Wentzel are involved in all aspects of the firm's practice and we will continue to develop this through employment equity planning.
We execute our mandate to promote advancing previously disadvantaged persons through continuous skills and knowledge transfer. The firm is involved in a number of initiatives, such as those below, which aim to advance black law professionals within and outside the firm:
Promotion of black counsel
Webber Wentzel is committed to giving black counsel an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills and to gain experience in commercial legal practice.
For historical reasons, black counsel have had limited opportunities to gain experience in corporate and commercial practice. We believe this needs to be addressed urgently by the advocates' profession. In a transforming South Africa, where the legitimacy of the rule of law needs to be re-asserted and established, we believe it is imperative that the composition of the judiciary should reflect the diversity of our society.
We thus endeavour to assist Bar Councils in South Africa to improve transformation in the advocates' profession.
Webber Wentzel outsources certain of its non-core functions, such as office cleaning, landscaping, stationery supply and catering, to black-empowered companies. The firm supports South African artists and has a Pro Bono Practice, headed by a partner who has no fee-earning responsibility.