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Legal Talent & Inclusion

10 Inclusive Behaviors for Men to Advance Women Lawyers and Attorneys of Color

Natalie Runyon  Director / ESG content & Advisory Services / Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

Natalie Runyon  Director / ESG content & Advisory Services / Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

Male alliance has been the main topic of a mini-content series on the Thomson Reuters Institute blog, and we've profiled male advocates for women on how they support female colleagues. In this blog post, we focus on 10 inclusive leadership behaviors for practice leaders, relationship partners and matter leads

The Anita Borg Institute recently held a Male Ally Summit focused on increasing more male allies in the technology industry. Many topics during the day explored the qualities of ideal allies, how awareness of power dynamics in a group is essential for alliances to happen, and how every-day language in the workplace can produce unintended consequences around divisiveness. (You can read more about the Summit here.)

At the Summit, the discussion soon shifted to highlight specific daily actions male allies can take. Below are 10 inclusive leadership actions that cross-over into the legal industry and that practice leaders, relationship partners, and matter leaders can take to create a welcoming environment where all firm associates, especially those of color, can thrive.

To start, the number one “must” quality is “having a moral compass and acting with integrity in alignment of personal values,” according to the panelists.

10 Inclusive Actions Men Can Take Now

The 10 leadership actions are:

      1. Invite women, especially those of color, to work on key matters. To do this effectively, you need to know your firm’s up-and-coming minority associates who need to broaden their experience and exposure.
      2. Only say “yes” to speaking engagements where there is gender balance. Share why you view this as a requirement. Speaking engagements are a great way to attract new clients.
      3. Amplify points of other women in group meetings.
      4. Amplify or advocate women’s ideas in group settings: “Let’s hear from Emma. She is the expert, let’s ask her…”
      5. Analyze who is getting your time and attention as leader, including those you are mentoring and sponsoring. If it is all men, then you as the leader have some work to do.
      6. Bring female (and people of color) colleagues to the tables of power to observe discussions on analyzing the anatomy of a matter or learning about a client’s business.
      7. Be aware of how you are evaluating men and women in performance reviews.Focus on business impact and what individuals need to keep doing in reviews of women because research suggests that feedback for women is tied less to business outcomes. They too often receive shorter reviews by men because of the fear that the feedback will be perceived as sexist or racist.
      8. Shake up your “homogeneous network” by introducing yourself to people who don’t look like you and attending events with people who are mostly from underrepresented groups, including people of color and LGBT individuals.
      9. Ask the women you champion what they need and be aware of assumptions about your actions as a male ally and potential unintended consequences. A common example is when a women attorney returns from maternity leave and misses out on a new opportunity because the well-intending male ally thinks she would not want the time commitment as a new mom.
      10. Participate in and support formal mentoring initiatives, including reverse-mentoring. Women and people of color are less likely to find mentors informally and therefore, need the firm to commit to formal mentoring programs for women and people of color.

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