At our webinar, Women in Legal Ops & Tech: Adjusting to a New Workplace Normal, CDS’ Nicole Guyer interviewed women leaders Beth Clutterbuck, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Relativity and Sasha Yablonovsky, President of CareerBuilder.
In this final installment of our four-part blog series, the women discuss ways in which employers and managers can advocate for women in the legal operations and technology space.
Read on for a lightly edited transcript of their conversation. To start with Part I, click here.
To watch the recorded webinar in its entirety, click here.
What will it take to bring more women into the legal and technology space?
Let’s take the conversation in a different direction, towards women’s equality, and the disparity between men and women in our industry, both in legal and in legal tech.
I’ve read statistics that close to 3 million women have left the workforce during the pandemic. One in four are downgrading their jobs and they may not rejoin the workforce anytime soon. We know the benefits of having women in the workplace. It is more representative of our clients. I don’t want to pigeonhole our gender into a specific box, but there are skill sets that we bring to the table.
So how do we get this to change, to get more women into the legal environment? And especially, I would love to see more women in leadership positions too – just how do we bring in more women?
Wow, that’s a loaded question as well, because it’s not a silver bullet, there’s multiple things that need to be happening all simultaneously. I think the companies that embrace this new way of working, this flexible whole being, employee experience, will be able to select the talent that they want and they will have more loyalty from talent. And so I would say if you are that type of employer, you will have by nature, a more diverse workforce who will want to be there and want to be loyal.
Definitely, I think it’s being able to communicate and to sell the benefits of working in this way, making it very clear that there’s areas for advancement, leading by example. What is the split of gender at every level in the organization? Is it representative? Do you have aspirational goals to make it be so? How committed is your leadership team to these types of topics? Are you discussing it? There’s so many different vectors. What are your policies like? Are you checking for balances as you hire, as you promote, as you train?
Looking at all these different things simultaneously not only indicates we care about this, but it also changes things, because talking about it doesn’t necessarily change anything. It’s doing things differently that gets to a different outcome. So every single touch point that is possible, you need to be intentional about it. At least, I could probably have a whole separate talk on this topic alone, but that’s just off the top of my head.
Redefining “skills” for a more equitable playing field
Yeah. We can probably spend another hour on this. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is something that we’ve talked about, especially over the last, I think, couple of years. It took center stage globally, but really nationally, over the last couple of years before the pandemic hit.
I think there’s two key things. First of all, skills. So most of the hiring managers when they look to bring people into their organization, they fall into a habit of hiring the same type of person for the same type of job all the time. And that hurts diversity all across the board, but especially gender diversity. So the way to do that is really to focus on soft and hard skills.
In 2017, as an example, on our CareerBuilder site, the way that the matching happens between candidates searching and employers searching, we assess these billions of points that we’ve gathered, and we match based on skill. So we will pop up a resume to a hiring manager and say, “This person has these kinds of soft skills, these kinds of hard skills. And by the way, they may not have the right title that perfectly fits into what you’re looking for. And they’re 85% to being a perfect unicorn. And by the way, this is the person you should target.”
What that has done – and we sip our own champagne, we use all our own tools here internally – what that has done for us as well is increased gender diversity greatly. Our engineering team in the Middle East is 40/60 female, which most technical companies can never say. Our executive team is about 50/50 here at CareerBuilder. So we’ve really truly embraced this tool and used it, and it really helped us, but it’s also brought women’s skills, as you mentioned Nicole, to the forefront. There are things that women don’t communicate the same way. They don’t build their resumes the same way. We do it for them to pick out the things such as, there’s women that have left the workforce.
Actually, close to 35% of women have either demoted themselves, asked for less responsibility or have resigned in the last year and a half. 35% of women. We’re stepping back in time here. It’s really discouraging, but I know there’s a way we can build on that and move forward. But women that had to step back and were forced to resign during the pandemic, they, over the last year and a half, have garnered additional skills. If you think about it, paying bills and managing grocery shopping and Instacart deliveries and et cetera, that’s vendor management. And we pick up on those things in our technology truly, and you put that in and go there, how much project management goes into just managing your kids or if you don’t have any, managing your siblings or friends and even planning dinners nowadays? It’s a whole rigmarole.
But my point is that you pick all these things apart and you look at it in a different way. That’s how you diversify and encourage the proper hiring methodologies, but also enable the candidates to come up to the top of the list.
Women: Drive the conversation and advocate for yourselves
The second thing is you, as a female candidate, you have to speak up. This is a conversation that needs to happen. All the women should talk to each other about this. Do not sit and wait. You’re not pushy, be assertive – speak to your manager, to your leader, to your boss, lay out the things that you’re good at and how you’ve contributed to the organization. And if there’s no current leadership role or promotional path, ask to work on it together with your leader.
The sitting back approach will never work. It’s a two-way street. Really, the leaders have to make an effort to hire with this diversity of skill sets in mind, but also the candidates or the employees that are looking to move forward in their career, they really need to seek out these conversations, bring themselves to the forefront and find mentors, if you have to, in a female network to really talk through and practice those talk tracks.
Yeah, absolutely. At CDS, we started a women’s focus group internally. Once a month, the women at CDS get together to talk about career paths, what we can do, if there are webinars that we can speak on, how we want to promote ourselves in the company. It’s a great way for us to advocate for ourselves and then as a group.
I’m going to build up the idea with one thing: practice your future narrative. Tell the story of where you have already gone next and start telling it to your networks. Go in those women’s groups, explain your next role and what you’ve achieved there, because the more that you actually repeat that, and it becomes muscle memory with you, it’s something that you can absolutely go and get. And I’ve seen it work and it’s something that I would say, if you haven’t done it, do it. Write your future narrative and share it, share it with as many folks as you possibly can.
I love that, the idea of a future narrative, because so often we have to introduce ourselves and describe where we’ve been. If you can touch on that, but then talk about what you want, where you’re going in your career, that stays in people’s minds. That is a great suggestion.