The First Step to Gender Diversity: Do the Math

Last month we welcomed more than 130 attorneys and corporate executives at our 2016 Annual Conference, Diversity + Flexibility = Talent Success. The day was filled with inspirational stories, sound advice, lessons learned, and expert guidance for organizations looking to improve their diversity and flexibility policies.

As we reflect on the successes of the day, we are proud to have had such a diverse group of participants, including general counsel, law firm chairs, diversity directors, and other leaders in the legal field come together to discuss the importance of having a diverse team and the value in having women in leadership positions. While the mindset of the legal community is clearly evolving, there are still many obstacles to overcome before we can truly say women have equal seats at the table.

So how can firms begin to shatter this glass ceiling? The first step is to identify your firm’s glass ceiling and uncover the obstacles to advancing more women. Here are a few first steps to take:

1. Crunch the numbers – Compare the numbers of women and men hired and promoted at each level (first-year associates, contract attorneys, income partners, equity partners, etc.) and compare these numbers by practice group and office. Take note of any patterns related to when and where the most women are leaving the firm.

2. Look at your committees and examine the gender composition and leadership of each committee (i.e. Compensation Committee, Associates Committee, Executive Committee).

3. Study the paths firm leaders took to leadership positions. Compare the number of women in leadership positions and determine where and at what level their numbers drops off (Executive Committee, Management Committee, or as Practice Group Leaders).

4. Tally up and compare the men and women who are receiving the prime opportunities, involved in pitches, benefitting from skill development opportunities, and taking depositions in your firm.

This data, along with exit and alumni interviews, will help you to analyze where barriers exist. Once the measuring and number crunching is complete, you can begin to make the necessary changes and implement action steps to advance women lawyers to top leadership positions.

The Alliance is here to help you in this process – contact us to learn more.