by Brianna Leung / November 21, 2019
One of the biggest stories in law earlier this year was the open letter signed by 170 general counsel and corporate legal officers vowing to restrict their legal dollars to outside firms that are truly committed to diversity and inclusion. That means law firms without inclusion at the top not only face bad optics on this important issue but also a concrete risk to their bottom line. They may lose clients and business to firms with better representation.
After years of little more than lip service paid to issues of equity, this new demand by clients has the potential to force firms to get real about their responsibility to make change. It will take many leaders on many fronts to meet the goals set out in this groundbreaking letter, but one of the most important areas of focus is the retention of women lawyers as they rise through the hierarchy. At GrowthPlay, we know the power of effective sales training and coaching to prepare women for the leadership roles necessary to keep a firm competitive and make strides on inclusion. Here are just three ways we support our clients and improve employee retention to get more women into leadership roles:
We understand the demand. When clients call for greater diversity and inclusion in the legal teams that serve them, they are looking beyond just the pitch process. A firm may show up to bid for business with a woman on the team, but the client wants to know whether that woman lawyer actually has leadership on the project. Clients want women on the management committee and women lawyers leading on the matters that are most important to their business. Firms need to focus on both.
We use objective tools. Research-based talent analytics, such as the GrowthPlay Chally Assessment, a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on more than 750,000 people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations, offer valuable data on the competencies that correlate with business development success. This is important because affinity—the tendency to choose leaders who are similar in background to current leadership—is a big stumbling block to getting more women into influential positions. When leaders base teaming decisions on objective competencies rather than gut feel, they will unlock hidden potential in lawyers they may have overlooked.
We provide training and support. Effective professional development, like sales training and leadership coaching, helps women lawyers identify their natural competencies and shows them how they can put these strengths to work in serving their clients, playing important roles on the legal team, and bringing in new business. Women lawyers don’t have to become rainmakers in order to be ready to lead, but they need the runway and support to succeed. There are many paths to effective leadership and business development, and when women know the approach that comes most naturally to them, they can engage in authentic ways, find success, and build their careers without leaving their firm.
For more information on how talent development can put more women in leadership check out our blog: “3 Ways Sales Talent Development Puts More Women in Leadership.”
Clients have put out the call and firms must answer. Effective sales training and coaching are powerful tools in improving retention of women partners and making sure they get promoted into leadership positions where they can make a meaningful impact.