In 2013, four female colleagues started an informal networking group to deepen connections across the firm and provide a vehicle for sharing information on gender-based issues. The group quickly gained traction and bloomed into today’s Bates White Women’s Network, with more than 40% of employees participating.
Fueled by Bates White’s guiding principles of empowering its people and building an environment where diverse skill sets are valued, the Women’s Network provides a platform to address issues of interest to employees broadly and women specifically. These include:
- Education and information sharing—Topics have included women in leadership, work-life balance, body language and communications, and empirical evidence on the gender pay gap.
- Networking—Through events such as happy hours, lunches, and coffee breaks, women at the firm get to know each other in an informal environment. For example, at quarterly brown-bag lunches, we introduce a topic and split into smaller discussion groups that rotate throughout the hour to provide an opportunity to connect—or reconnect—with more women at the firm.
- Outreach—The Women’s Network partners with other organizations to connect and learn from women in related fields.
- Community involvement—To encourage the next generation of women to pursue a career in STEM-related fields, the Women’s Network partners with Techbridge Girls, a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on STEM learning opportunities for girls in low-income communities.
- Panel Presentation: Navigating and Advancing a Career in Law and Economics—A virtual webinar that provided practical tips and advice from female lawyers and economists based on their own personal career development experiences.
- Techbridge Girls Scavenger Hunt Extravaganza—Employees collaborated in a remote scavenger hunt that raised funds to support Techbridge Girls, an organization that provides gender-responsive and culturally relevant STEM programming for elementary and middle school-age girls.
- Screening of an award-winning documentary on gender parity—The group watched Pioneers in Skirts, a film that addresses how women and girls with pioneering ambitions combat biases and sexism in our culture and the workplace. A discussion on positive steps we can take to address these gender parity issues followed the screening.
- Webinar on underlying mechanisms that contribute to promotion gaps—George Washington University Professor Mary Ann Bronson discussed her research on factors that drive the promotion gap between men and women, particularly as it relates to wage growth and internal promotions.
- Networking lunch with a discussion about the gender pay gap—Participants discussed a white paper that examines geographic factors, particularly commuting patterns between spouses, and the extent to which these differences explain disparities in earnings and wages.
- Learning about a career in economics—Members of our Women's Network sponsored a webinar with college students (open to all schools) that explored a career in economic consulting. The program focused on economic consulting careers, how women are supported at Bates White, and how to be successful in the application process.