In an effort to inform and inspire our members and friends, we often share diversity and flexibility Bright Spots – those small or large successes that impact an organization in a positive way. We believe that important diversity and flexibility initiatives can truly impact your organization’s bottom line, recruitment and retention capabilities and employee satisfaction.
Arnold & Porter’s Key Gender Equity Efforts
International law firm Arnold & Porter has received our “Tipping the Scales” honor for the past four years reinforcing the firm’s strong commitment to promoting equal numbers of men and women to its partnership. The firm’s higher than average number of women in leadership is the result of many years of dedication to building systems that focus on gender parity and hold leaders accountable for each practice group’s outcome. The firm’s Chair and Managing Partners are keenly focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and there is a deep understanding within firm culture that gender parity is critical. Building on this cultural foundation, Arnold & Porter is committed to intentional efforts in many important areas. Here we will highlight two particular Bright Spots in Arnold & Porter’s approach to achieving its gender diversity goals:
Annual High Level Pipeline Conversations
Managing Partners at Arnold & Porter have pipeline conversations annually with each of the firm’s practice group leaders. In addition to identifying who will be coming up for promotion in the given year, the conversations center around looking back several years to see what is happening within each practice group. This approach allows the leadership to look deeper into the pipeline, analyze past hires and promotions and be prepared to course correct if there are gender diversity challenges.
Senior Associate Position
Unlike many traditional law firm career tracks, Arnold & Porter’s advancement system offers their Associates the opportunity to receive a promotion to Senior Associate once they’re in their fifth year. The firm has outlined a set of criteria and eligibility benchmarks that Associates must meet to be considered for this promotion. This extra level of seniority in their career path allows the firm to better envision the gender breakdown of their upcoming partnership classes. Eligible Associates have a unique opportunity to discuss their progression levels and reach goals and benchmarks before they make it to the partnership levels.
These two strategies have contributed to the success that Arnold & Porter has had retaining and advancing women to their leadership levels. By holding annual high level pipeline conversations, the Managing Partners are intentionally tracking the advancement of women in all practice groups and holding practice group leaders accountable for the parity within their teams. Additionally, by offering the Senior Associate position, the firm provides its attorneys with an interim steppingstone before being considered for partnership and provides leadership with a clear snap shot of who is meeting benchmarks and who may need additional support.
At the Alliance, we believe that it is critical that firms and companies put in place intentional systems to track and monitor their pipeline to leadership and continuously reassess the success of their efforts.