TWLL Event: Examining Men’s Role in Women’s Leadership in the Law

Topics: Corporate Legal, Diversity, Law Firms, Talent Development, Thomson Reuters, Women's Leadership Blog Posts

mens role

During a recent event sponsored by Thomson Reuters’ Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL), Deirdre Stanley, EVP & General Counsel of Thomson Reuters, moderated a discussion with Barry Salzberg, a corporate director of Thomson Reuters and the former Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. The TWLL event and the discussion focused on the role of male allies in advancing the careers of women.

In the conversation, Stanley took the opportunity to focus on Salzberg’s commitment to talent and diversity issues throughout his various leadership positions at Deloitte, and on what law firms could learn from accounting firms in advancing women to partnership and other leadership ranks.

Be the Change You Want to SeeAs a leader, Salzberg advanced gender diversity on several fronts, initially through participating in various firm committees and other initiatives. Salzberg noted that before he became CEO, he had observed that for over a decade, more than 50% of the early career talent hired out of college were women. However, those women were leaving the firm before advancing to the level of partnership at comparable representation.

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Barry Salzberg

Salzberg understood that part of the high female attrition rate was due to the dearth of women role models at the partnership level. He also noted that while Deloitte had many “diversity programs,” they were not focused on solving the challenge at the root. Salzberg pledged to focus on addressing the structural barriers to minimize their impact on women’s advancement to partner.

One of the first areas he tackled was how account assignments were made. He noted that “women were being denied partnership because of the lack of economic significance in their book of business.” Often women’s client relationships were not as financially significant as those of men. Salzberg intentionally focused on driving changes in the assignments process as soon as women entered the firm to make sure they were on par with the assignments of men. He continued to focus on this from women’s promotion to senior associate and then, to manager.

Guidance on How to Handle #MeToo BacklashSalzberg advised the audience to use good judgment when it comes to #MeToo concerns, but noted that notwithstanding #MeToo, inclusion is still a business imperative. If your business does not get it right, an organization or firm in your industry will, and soon, that organization or firm will be better than you because of better and more diverse talent.

Strategies for Naysayers — Salzberg suggested bringing those who are resistant to diversity initiatives into the tent. During his tenure, Salzberg gave some naysayers a leadership role in diversity programs and measured them on their progress.