Learn about a local law firm‘s initiative to lead the way in diversity and women's advancement within their organization and community.
Back in 2017, Taft Law formed its Gender Advancement Committee to help develop, promote, and advance women attorneys within the firm itself, the legal profession, and the community.
“The committee works with Taft leadership to identify potential barriers to women’s successes, and then creates plans to eliminate those barriers,” says Taft’s Senior Manager on Business Development Megan Riley.
Before 2017, there was a lot of formal and informal feedback from Taft’s female lawyers. Much of that feedback involved raising questions and making comments as to the long-term viability of the private practice of law as a career. Then, those questions and comments were directed at the profession as a whole, while others were addressed to Taft specifically.
From there Taft’s Managing Partner Robert Hicks realized that if Taft wanted to become the highly regarded “employer of choice” in each of its markets, then it needed to adopt a mindset and approach that helps to attract, retain, and develop female lawyers in a way Riley says was more effective than what the firm had achieve before. “Forming the Gender Advancement Committee seemed like a good way to start working on these issues,” says Riley.
Today, the Gender Advancement Committee is led by Cincinnati partner Sonya Jindal Tork and Indianapolis partner Tracy Betz.
Together the two head up the committee that hopes to break down barriers for women attorneys. “We have more women now in leadership positions thanks to a host of initiatives, such as bringing in national experts to disrupt implicit biases and industry leaders who help us benchmark key metrics,” says Riley. “At the same time, especially important given the current environment, we want to focus on creating a modern workplace culture – one that is flexible, inclusive, and supportive of a strong work/life balance.”
In the community, Taft is involved with their “Women of Taft” affinity group, which is made up of female lawyers from the Cincinnati office. “The group celebrates women leaders, strengthens relationships with women clients who own or manage organizations in the Cincinnati area, and helps our lawyers forge relationships with professional and executive women in Cincinnati,” says Riley. “Every year we host a SHE (Support Her Endeavors) event, where we recognize women who are trailblazers or leaders in the community.”
In early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Taft hosted a successful clothing drive in the Cincinnati office benefitting Dress for Success Cincinnati, in honor of International Women’s Day.
Most recently, Taft was selected as one of Working Mother magazine’s 2020 “Best Law Firms for Women.” It was one of only 60 law firms in the country to earn this honor. “This shows the initiatives our Gender Advancement Committee has worked on – from moving to a one-class partnership structure; to offering a 16-week paid parental leave (regardless of gender); to partnering with companies such as CorporateCARE Solutions and MilkStork to offer family-centered benefits – is paying off for our firm,” adds Riley.