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By Lighthouse

Published on Mon, March 2, 2020

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In honor of International Women’s Day 2020, Lighthouse is featuring female leaders within the industry who actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations, and celebrate women's achievements. Below are spotlights on each of our 2020 featured females helping to make a gender equal world. Check them out!

Ausra Deluard_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? It means a meritocracy where everyone with skill, hard work, and imagination may aspire to, and actually can achieve, the highest level regardless of gender. It means the elimination of explicit and implicit biases that can skew professional relationships and result in disparate opportunities. It means having a voice and a seat at the table earned through performance and not being sidelined because of gender.

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? I was raised in a counter-stereotypical environment. My mother was the primary breadwinner and a full-time working professional, while my father took on most of the childcare responsibilities after a full work day of physical labor that began at 5 a.m. I grew up playing backyard tackle football with my brother and male family friends in mud, ice, and rain, and they did not go easy on me. I then joined the Marine Corps. Until a few years ago, I never had the perception that there were limits on what I could achieve because I am female.

Unfortunately, I am now intimately aware of the ugly reality of gender discrimination. My experiences allow me to better understand the elements that contribute to disparate treatment and what can be done to address them. Raising awareness of these issues in a more vocal way is in the works. I have never been afraid to challenge the status quo (like using predictive coding in 2012) and I will continue to do so to effectuate positive change.

When faced with bias in the past, I researched and gathered information regarding best practices to address such issues. I presented recommendations to leadership and organized events to build community and provide training. I continue to provide mentorship and support to other women. And, I challenge stereotypes by persevering as a working mom in big law.

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? I like to spread awareness of other women’s achievements and provide other women opportunities to shine. I go out of my way to ensure key decision makers know about the accomplishments of other women.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? For those trying to establish best practices internally, there are a myriad of resources available. For example, the Center for Worklife Law, spearheaded by the Professor Joan Williams, provides an array of practical tools, model policies, training, and best practice guides. 

Vote with your feet and dollars. If efforts to effectuate change internally fall on deaf ears, go somewhere else where there is a demonstrated commitment to providing a level playing field. Dentons is truly invested in supporting women, as apparent through their review processes, bias training and safeguards, development and authentic leadership diversity. Support vendors and consultants who demonstrate gender equality. Be cognizant of who you work with and keep busy. Build community.

Dawn Garrison_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? To me a gender-equal world means not having to over analyze each piece of my daily life to assure my value is recognized by all participants. It means not having to change my approach, tone, or demeanor to be heard by my male colleagues. It means I can be ME.

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? I personally challenge stereotypes at my firm by being a strong leader, volunteering for important projects, speaking up in meetings, offering feedback to my colleagues equally, male and female. Importantly, I recognize my value to the firm. I am BRAVE. I am CONFIDENT.

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? Through my leadership in the GOIC Lean In Circle and membership in the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Orrick, I help host events and provide a forum for women’s accomplishments to be recognized. When working with my colleagues and teams I assure that credit earned is given.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? Be persistent! Be ambitious! Don’t settle. Recognize your value. People live up to expectations. Make your value known, expect credit. If you don’t get it, seek it out. If you don’t expect to get the next big project, you may never get it. Volunteer and make your voice heard.

Nicola Woodfall_Blog-1

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? A human is recognized for "their" personality and knowledge in all capacities. Mental and physical health are supported and provided for without bias. "We" are respected for virtues both positive and negative.

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? Initially and always, listening. What's the reason for the bias? Challenging the responses with actions, calmness, and, ultimately, calling out the unbalanced views. Empathy to all is the sincerest way to "fight" and remove bias.

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? I like to send notes or cards to congratulate as a small but personal article of celebration. Telling women how fantastic the achievements are and discussing them in other communities. Sharing the knowledge equates to opening new conversations or relighting old topics.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? Develop an altruistic culture focusing on team dynamics, envelop clients into team and workspace initiatives, and, importantly, talk about it! Publicise the how, the who, and the why.

Tracy McMahon_Blog-1

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? It means fair treatment across the gender identity spectrum. It does not mean we have to look, talk, or act the same. We all bring something unique to the conversation and should be celebrated equally for our contributions. Rights, opportunities, obligations, and pay should not take gender into consideration.   

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? My workplace makes diversity a priority. That being said bias still exists, often when you least expect it. When you experience bias, gather your thoughts, speak up, and don’t tolerate bad behavior. Set an example by never apologizing for being at the table. Your opinion matters so speak with authority. 

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? We’re often bad at celebrating our own achievements, making it more important that we celebrate each other. Words of encouragement when things don’t go as expected and notes of recognition when they do. Use your organization's award, bonus, and feedback structure, especially if achievements were missed by the broader group.   

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? Begin with the end in mind. My organization works hard to expand our candidate pool, rethink our interview process so that a diverse panel interviews candidates, and set up mentor and onboarding programs that match diverse candidates. For my team, work life balance, flexibility, and open communication have been key.

Wendy Curtis_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? I aspire to a world where we equally value the attributes of all genders and celebrate the power of teams of people with different experiences, perspectives, and strengths. It may seem funny, but when traveling for business, I am often struck by the fact that I am the only woman in the hotel restaurant at breakfast. It would be inspiring to see that change. 

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? My career path and non-partner role defy stereotypes. In my role, I strive to create an environment where it is safe to disagree and challenge the status quo. The success of my team shows that when you refuse to do things as they have always been done by the same people who have always done them, great things can happen. But, most of all, I love what I do contrary to stereotypes!

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? As a team we foster meaningful relationships and connections among women so that we can lift each other up and challenge one another. We are active in Women in eDiscovery and She Breaks the Law, and recently nominated 16 women to the ABA Women in Tech list. When selecting vendors, technology solutions, and making investments via our legal tech fund, we look at whether the company has women in senior leadership roles.   

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? Re-imagine the skill set and talent profiles for new hires. Women are under-represented in senior leadership positions in the legal and technology industries. To expand your talent pool, look for candidates in other industries and value innate ability over previous titles and years of experience. Give early opportunities and invest in creating the next generation of women leaders. 

Jennifer Swanton_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? At a basic level, gender equality means having gender never enter into the equation. However, for my everyday reality, it means a workplace where being a working mother that values and prioritizes time with her family does not count against me and is actually celebrated.  

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? As a manager, I promote an environment that has open and honest communication and treats everyone equally. As a mother, I am raising my two young boys to think of women as not just equals, but as powerful forces. 

3. How do you celebrate other women's achievements? As the world comes closer to gender equality, it is important that we reward all individuals in a way that does not create a greater divide. At a basic level, this means rewarding people for the quality of work they do and not just the number of hours they put in.   

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? There are a number of actions companies and individuals can take to help ensure gender equality in the workplace. These can be as simple as removing names from resumes to make them gender neutral, create pay bands based on position and not previous salary, and using gender neutral leave policies.   

Karen Wagshul_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? A world where gender is no longer a barrier to equal opportunity. A world free of the biases and prejudice currently associated with gender, both overtly and unconsciously, where everyone has a chance to develop their potential. 

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? I support diversity in groups and teams, both during the hiring phase and after hiring. When hiring, I work with recruiters to ensure a diverse applicant pool. When managing, I encourage inclusion and collaboration, thereby allowing for a wide range of perspectives and opinions from which everyone will benefit.

3. How do you celebrate other women’s achievements? Whenever a female colleague accomplishes something important, I take the time to recognize, support and encourage her. Where possible, I do so in person. In addition, and where necessary, I also use one of the other myriad avenues for such recognition, including email, phone, text, social media, company intranet.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? Use best efforts to support and encourage diversity, and celebrate important accomplishments. Start during hiring, working with recruiters to ensure it includes both women and men. When managing, encourage inclusion and collaboration, encourage everyone to develop their potential, and take the time to celebrate the successes.

Mira Edelman_Blog

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? Girls are often encouraged to believe they can do anything they set out to do, as long as they aren’t too loud about it, because, after all, they must behave like proper young ladies. In a gender-equal world, girls should be as brash as they wish and women should tout their accomplishments.

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? I lead by example, making sure my voice is heard. When I run meetings, I ensure that every participant has the opportunity to contribute if they wish. I acknowledge great ideas put forth by women when their male counterparts try to co-opt them.

3. How do you celebrate other women’s achievements? I choose words carefully when describing women’s achievements to ensure they are gender-neutral and give credit that is deserved. I use active voice to indicate a female team member has worked for her accomplishments, rather than phrases that seem to imply she was lucky to have something happen for her.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? If you feel overlooked in the workplace, develop allies and mentors. Allies are female and male counterparts who will amplify your voice. Mentors can help navigate workplace politics and educate male-dominated leadership on the importance of gender equality.

Shandra Wright_Blog-1

1. What does a gender-equal world mean to you? A gender-equal world is on in which all people, regardless of their sex, have the same opportunities and receive equal compensation.

2. How do you personally challenge stereotypes and/or fight biases around females in the workplace? I definitely lead by example. As a leader in my organization, I also have a responsibility to identify and correct when stereotypes or biases surface. I find one-on-one conversations with a person who has articulated the stereotype or bias is effective. Some people don't even realize that they have biases. It is important to me that I am known for cultivating a fair work environment for everyone.

3. How do you celebrate other women’s achievements? Women need more professional mentors. I seek mentors out myself and I have served as a mentor for many other women in my career. I celebrate the achievements of the women I have mentored with a personal note or even a quick text. I have close professional female counterparts at other organizations. We are intentional about staying connected. Congregations with these ladies at industry events often turn into think tanks of sorts and we are always celebrating someone's latest accomplishment. Women have to hold up and support other women.

4. What recommendations do you have for others looking to ensure a gender equal workplace? If you are in the job market, look at the leadership of the organization. That will speak volumes about their efforts to ensure a gender equal workplace. Ask about their commitments to gender quality and any corporate programs they have in place to support those efforts. If you are in a company that lacks in this area, take the initiative to raise it and spearhead a proposal to help them elevate their efforts.

A big shout out to the women who participated in our International Women's Day Campaign focused on #EachforEqual! Take a look at our 2019 International Women's Day Campaign

About the Author
Lighthouse

For 25 years, Lighthouse has provided innovative software and services to manage the increasingly complex landscape of enterprise data for compliance and legal teams. Lighthouse leads by developing proprietary technology that integrates with industry-leading third-party software, automating workflows, and creating an easy-to-use, end-to-end platform. Lighthouse also delivers unique proprietary applications and advisory services that are highly valuable for large, complex matters, and a new SaaS platform designed for in-house teams. Whether reacting to incidents like litigation or governmental investigations, or designing programs to proactively minimize the potential for future incidents, Lighthouse partners with multinational industry leaders, top global law firms, and the world’s leading software provider as a channel partner.