PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION’S BEST PRACTICES FOR PHILADELPHIA LAW FIRMS FOR THE RETENTION AND PROMOTION OF WOMEN
To the extent that women encounter obstacles based on stereotypes and gender based considerations, continued efforts within law firms are essential to ensure the continued promotion and retention of women in the profession. In light of the need to continue the efforts to achieve gender diversity in the profession, the Bar Association developed a "Call to Action”
and created Best Practices for Philadelphia Law Firms for the Retention and Promotion of Women ("Best Practices"). As leaders of the Philadelphia Legal Community, the signatory firms to the Call to Action agree to use their best efforts to employ the Best Practices set forth below and to aspire to the goals set forth herein.
II. EACH SIGNATORY LAW FIRM PLEDGES TO PURSUE THE FOLLOWING GOALS WITH RESPECT TO THE RETENTION AND PROMOTION OF WOMEN TO PARTNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT POSITIONS
B. Retention of Women: To improve the retention rate of women attorneys.
C. Promotion of Women: To improve the rate at which the law firm promotes or invites women attorneys to non-equity and equity partner status, and to management and leadership positions.
D. Self-Analysis of and Accountability for the Retention and Promotion of Women: To conduct critical self audits and evaluations of whether the law firm is achieving the above goals, and to provide measures of accountability in the process of implementing and aspiring to the Best Practices set forth below.
III. EACH SIGNATORY LAW FIRM PLEDGES TO USE ITS BEST EFFORTS TO EMPLOY THE FOLLOWING BEST PRACTICES FOR PURSUING THE GOALS OF THE RETENTION AND PROMOTION OF WOMEN LAWYERS TO PARTNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT POSITIONS
1. Promote Commitment from Leadership
(a) Identify gender diversity as a core value and strategic initiative.
(b) Encourage firm leaders to promote gender diversity as a core value.
(c) Incorporate gender diversity into the firm business plan.
(d) Include gender diversity on the agenda for firm meetings, including upper management meetings.
(e) Provide information to attorneys about the commitment of the firm to gender diversity.
(f) Schedule periodic meetings with firm leaders and women attorneys to discuss
diversity and inclusion issues, concerns and successes.
(g) Support gender equity at all management levels, and communicate this support throughout the firm.
2. Create Equal Access and Opportunities for Women
(a) Analyze existing systems and policies for unintended bias, such as the work allocation and distribution system, the process for inclusion at events and activities, and the promotion process.
(b) Adopt and implement plans to provide women attorneys with equal access to clients and equal opportunity for significant and important work assignments.
(c) Provide women attorneys with training, financial support, recognition and commensurate compensation for developing sustainable and growing practices and establishing reputations within the community.
(d) Provide women attorneys with internal and external access to leadership training.
(e) Periodically review scheduled meetings and events, including marketing events, to ensure that all lawyers have the opportunity to participate.
(f) Encourage gender diversity at informal gatherings and social events.
(g) Provide opportunities for women to market themselves through events and activities which focus on the unique interests and talents of women.
3. Create an Inclusive Work Environment and Culture
(a) Create a diversity statement, which defines diversity to include gender diversity, and embodies the commitment of the firm, and disseminate the statement both internally and externally.
(b) Develop and implement a gender diversity plan.
(c) Provide gender diversity training for all lawyers, including management.
(d) Develop a Diversity Committee, which includes gender diversity as one of its goals, with participation from the management and decision makers, to identify key internal issues and to propose solutions, diversity events, and diversity training.
(e) Send a welcome letter from the Diversity Chair to all new hires that highlights the firm's commitment to gender diversity and outlines the diversity goals and initiatives of the firm.
(f) Retain a diversity consultant to assess and evaluate how the firm can enhance diversity and the retention and promotion of women lawyers within the firm.
(g) Recognize lawyers' treatment of others and address inappropriate behaviors.
(h) Train department heads, partners and managers to lead by example in promoting gender equality and the inclusion of women in all aspects of the practice of law.
(i) Offer gender diversity training and integrate the training into new staff and lawyer orientations.
(j) Collaborate with clients, non-profit organizations, and bar associations to encourage gender diversity awareness.
B. Retention of Women
1. Encourage Women's Professional Development
(a) Offer training on a variety of skills (e.g., marketing, business development, persuasive writing, public speaking, client communications, community involvement, and traditional legal skills) to ensure that women lawyers are able to succeed in the firm.
(b) Provide information about and sponsor external educational opportunities for women attorneys to learn and network outside the firm.
(c) Encourage attorneys to participate in women's associations and organizations; sponsor membership and support lawyers who achieve leadership positions within these organizations.
(d) Hold annual retreats or meetings to bring women lawyers together from all offices, allowing women to network with one another.
(e) Create opportunities for junior women lawyers to have access to senior lawyers for training, career guidance, evaluation, networking, and mentoring purposes, to ensure that future women leaders develop.
(f) Recognize the importance of informal networking in career development and establish a plan to include women in informal networking events.
2. Create a Mentoring Culture
(a) Formalize mentoring programs and include training for mentors to improve mentoring skills.
(b) In addition to implementing formal mentoring programs, provide women with opportunities to be mentored by other women, to guide and enhance their development and to prevent isolation in the workplace.
(c) Encourage mentors to assist mentees in developing long and short term business goals.
(d) Encourage group mentoring events designed to provide mentees with multiple informal mentors.
(e) Develop incentives to encourage mentors to engage in mentoring activities, such as having separate billing numbers to track time spent mentoring.
3. Analyze and Address Retention Data
(a) Conduct exit interviews of all departing lawyers to determine the reasons for their departure.
(b) Address gender inequity in retention rates for attorneys at all levels.
4. Support Flexible Workday Schedules and Enact Reasonable Parental Leave Options
(a) Offer equitable and viable alternative part time and/or flexible work schedules.
(b) Provide a supportive culture for attorneys who choose part time or flexible work schedules.
(c) Enact a part-time policy that provides for proportional compensation, benefits, bonuses, and the opportunity for promotion.
(d) Provide adequate technology and support to maximize productivity.
(e) If possible, offer emergency or sick child care.
(f) Enact fair and equitable parental leave policies.
5. Enact a Fair Compensation System
(a) Ensure that women participate in compensation decisions.
(b) Recognize and equitably reward men and women for participation in firm
administrative duties, and bar association and community activities, as part of the compensation decision.
C. Promotion of Women
1. Apply uniform standards for advancement of men and women attorneys.
2. Periodically review, communicate, and consider client satisfaction in the evaluation of all lawyers.
3. Recognize women and men for their achievements in all areas of legal practice, including recruiting, marketing and mentoring, informally and/or through formal recognition programs.
4. Establish goals or benchmarks for individual lawyers as part of their personal evaluations.
5. Provide associates with a clear statement of partnership criteria and requirements.
6. Recognize participation in community, pro bono and bar leadership activities, including service on committees and boards, as a value.
7. Ensure that women attorneys are represented on a proportionate basis and participate in all levels of management.
8. Gather and internally disseminate statistical information regarding gender representation in hiring, promotion, compensation, and governance.
9. Appoint women to serve on executive and management committees, such as hiring, executive and compensation committees.
D. Self-Analysis of and Accountability for the Retention and Promotion of Women
1. Monitor progress made on gender diversity goals by using metrics, soliciting feedback from women attorneys and maintaining gender diversity statistics.
2. Adopt and enforce anti-discrimination and harassment policies, including gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
3. Adopt and implement policies and procedures to investigate and enforce complaints of inequity, discrimination, or harassment.
4. Obtain, analyze and communicate to all lawyers data about gender equity within the firm.
5. Include measurable actions and goals in the gender diversity plan.
6. Include gender diversity goals and achievements in the firm’s annual report.
7. Require annual reports by practice groups or departments with respect to gender diversity.
8. Incorporate gender diversity contributions into the evaluation and compensation determinations for firm leaders and management.