Case Study: Gibbons P.C.—The Women’s Initiative: Driving Success Through Diversity InvestmentJan 21, 2009
The Women’s Initiative: Driving Success Through Diversity Investment at Gibbons P.C. has contributed to, and continues to support, a workplace culture that is flexible, innovative, engaging, and inclusive. It is embedded in the firm’s business development strategy and has become critical to its branding in the marketplace. Through the initiative’s informative and well-attended events, 60 percent of clients are involved in various activities. Women, men, and the firm benefit from the business generated by these events. In 2007, The Women’s Initiative generated more than 6 percent of the firm’s annual revenue.
Other important components include women-only “mentoring circles” that give attorneys a chance to connect with role models and share career insights. Women involved with the initiative also provide strategic advice on the firm’s flexibility programs and policies. In addition, community involvement through outreach and partnerships contribute to strong recruitment and retention by building and sustaining the firm’s brand. Participation in The Women’s Initiative is strongly supported, expected, and entrenched in the firm’s processes. Performance evaluations and compensation reviews at each level, including among women and men directors/partners account for corporate citizenship activities; this explicitly includes participation in the initiative. Also, associates may count 35 hours toward their annual billable-hours requirements.
Together, the initiative’s components create an environment in which women professionals can succeed. The culture of flexibility ensures women’s advancement is not impeded by work-life concerns: more than two-thirds of the firm’s women directors are mothers. Twenty-two percent of the firm’s women non-equity directors, 20 percent of women counsel, and 16 percent of women associates utilize a reduced-hours schedule. Women currently hold 21.1 percent of equity director positions, and the number of women directors overall increased from 13 percent in 1997 to 19 percent in 2008. Women of color directors increased from zero to 4.1 percent in the same timeframe. Women also chair three of the firm’s nine practice groups.