LONDON — Our UK colleagues in Thomson Reuters Transforming Women’s Leadership (TWLL) in the Law program recently held a roundtable dinner on inclusion, gender and leadership. TWLL UK advisory board member Suki Binjal moderated the discussion on solutions to the personal and organizational barriers to cultural change that oftentimes accompany slow progress on gender diversity. Binjal is also Director of Belvedere Legal, Interim Director of Legal at Hackney Borough Council, and immediate Past President of Lawyers in Local Government (LLG).
The event brought together local government legal directors from across the UK and several members of the LLG executive, as well as junior lawyers from Hackney and a number of law firm partners.
The diverse group drew on a variety of backgrounds and experiences to explore power dynamics, the challenges of dealing with others’ perceptions, and what it means to lead and drive cultural change in professional and legal organizations today.
“Too often, those who are passionate about change struggle to gain buy-in from those who are content with the status quo.”
Justine Lutterodt, Director at the Centre for Synchronous Leadership, explored in a keynote the personal and organizational barriers to cultural change, along with practical and helpful advice on how to work as an effective change leader. “Too often, those who are passionate about change struggle to gain buy-in from those who are content with the status quo,” Lutterodt said. “The skill of connecting emotionally with different stakeholders — including those who disagree — is a key differentiator of changemakers who achieve lasting, systemic impact”.
From a leadership point of view, discussions focused on the need to find common goals that unite the legal workforce, both majority and minority groups, while fostering difference and creating a supportive environment for under-represented groups. Powerful personal stories from delegates underlined the need to create not just a rational but an emotional connection with the need for change. Other testimony highlighted the success of LGBT+ groups in fostering ’ally’ connections, and the need for leaders to act on creating opportunities and respect for a range of minority groups.
The crucial role of personal authenticity in leadership was emphasized. Acting as a positive role model and embodying the change that is needed were called out, as was the importance of the principle Lutterodt refers to as “starting slow to go fast” and assessing the level of change the people in one’s organization can handle. Lutterodt believes that systemic change should not be seen in terms of winning battles but instead as a transformative process for all groups in the organization. “An effective change maker brings the whole system on a journey. And that’s similar to the job of an entrepreneur,” said Lutterodt.
You can read the full article covering the event here.