February 12, 2020

Midyear 2020: Rx for engaging men in gender equality efforts

Everyone agrees that getting men more involved in gender equality issues in the legal profession helps boost business prospects for male and female lawyers, clients and the legal profession as a whole.

So why is it so difficult to achieve?

The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession aims to answer that question by sharing research from its latest initiative during a program called “Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Profession” at the 2020 ABA Midyear Meeting, on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the JW Marriott’s Grand Ballroom, Salon 3.

For the study, the commission convened focus groups in New York, Dallas and San Francisco to help determine why some men choose to engage as strong allies for women lawyers. Each group of 40 participants, evenly split between men and women, answered questions posed first to each gender, then questions to both genders. The responses were captured using an online survey tool, which the facilitator will share at the program.

The questions posed to the focus groups were designed to delve into the psychology behind engaging male colleagues as partners for women’s success. For example, one question asked what men could do to increase the number of female equity partners or the promotion of women in-house, and one respondent suggested “using the law firm evaluation and mentorship process to ensure that women are getting the same opportunities as their male colleagues.”

Following a presentation of the results, a panel of experts will talk about their experiences and strategies to engage more men in this effort.

Panelists include Anne Collier, CEO and certified professional coach at Arudia in Washington, D.C., who will present the research; Evan Anderson, CEO of PLACED Legal Career Strategies in Washington, D.C.; former ABA president Paulette Brown, senior partner and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Locke Lord, LLP; Tommy Preston, immediate past chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division and the Honorable Rodolfo A. Ruiz II, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

Commission member Katherine M. Larkin-Wong, an associate at Latham and Watkins, will serve as moderator. “We are looking forward to sharing a preview of the ‘Men in the Mix’ data with Midyear Meeting attendees,” she said. “During the session, we will work with our presenters and the audience to build action items, based on our new data, that everyone can take back to their workplace to increase overall engagement on diversity issues.”

The panel discussion will be followed by a Q-and-A, then wrap up with a brainstorming session. Later this year, the commission will use the results from this program as the basis for a tool kit.