Marsha Anastasia, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for the Americas at Pitney Bowes, spoke to the Legal Executive Institute about joining the Advisory Board of Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) and why she decided to become involved with this endeavor.
Legal Executive Institute: Why did you decide to become an Advisory Committee member for Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law?
Marsha Anastasia: I’ve spent the last decade involved in the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), most recently as President for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. NAWL’s mission — to provide leadership, a collective voice and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession — is something that I’m passionate about.
When I heard about the Thomson Reuters’ Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law initiative, I was very excited to join the Advisory Committee since the objectives are so closely aligned with those of NAWL and with what I’ve been working towards for years.
We all want to help identify solutions and remove the obstacles that are in the way of women advancing to the highest levels within the legal profession, whether that be in law firms, corporations or other entities.
The available data today is telling a story of the stagnation in advancement for women in law firms, with the percentage of women equity partners barely increasing over the past 10 years. While women in corporate general counsel roles and law school tenured faculty have had much better success — shown by steadily increasing percentages of women in those positions — we still have work to do. TWLL’s goal of curating conversations between law firms and general counsels to talk about the barriers to women’s advancement is inspiring, and the connections between women in these two areas are already improving. I’m excited to be a part of the conversation.
Legal Executive Institute: What most excites you about this series?
Marsha Anastasia: I’m excited about the collaboration that the series is working to encourage between law firms and corporations. Working together, we will hopefully bring about the change that the industry so desperately needs.
Legal Executive Institute: How do you see your organization benefiting from meeting with law firms and corporations around this topic?
Marsha Anastasia: Pitney Bowes has a long history of valuing the richness of ideas, experiences and perspectives inherent in a diverse workforce, and in seeking to create and sustain an environment in which each individual is respected, engaged in meaningful work, and developed to their fullest potential.
Starting in the 1940s, then-Chairman and CEO Walter H. Wheeler proved to be a great role model for the power of inclusive leadership. During the 1940s, he resigned from a yacht club that didn’t accept Jewish members and pulled a sales conference from a hotel that would not allow an African American salesperson to stay with the other attendees from our company. In the late-1940s, he also notably wrote a memo to the head of the company’s personnel department indicating that he wanted the workforce to mirror the demographics of the neighborhood in which the facility was located, which included African Americans and Italian immigrants. He followed up to check on the progress of this initiative, which pre-dated Affirmative Action in this country by almost 15 years. In addition, Pitney Bowes was one of the few corporate sponsors of the National Dialog on Race at Fisk University in 1948, and received its first of many accolades for equal employment activities in 1950 from the National Urban League.
With this legacy as inspiration, I will work with TWLL on the advancement of women and minorities in the legal profession, ultimately benefitting both our organizations.