The theme of our annual Rainmaker event this year was Distributed Leadership. Our four fantastic speakers addressed the need for organisations to adopt new approaches to leadership and empower individuals within organisations to drive change.
Our second speaker of the day was Katie Nagy de Nagybaczon, Partner at global law firm CMS. Katie gave us a fantastic insight into how she and her team at CMS are deliberately driving inclusion and diversity at all levels of the organisation. 2019 marks 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed, which allowed women to finally practice law. Whilst there has been some progress over the last 100 years, Katie highlighted the fact that there is still a lot more to be done.
Below is my summary of Katie's inspiring talk:
Talk the talk
The first step in driving change is realising and understanding that there is something that fundamentally has to change. CMS is the 6th biggest law firm in the UK by revenue and the 6th largest in the world by number of employees. Katie acknowledged that whilst a majority of junior lawyers at CMS are women, there is a distinct lack of diversity at higher levels of the organisation. There is a long way to go in not only including women at these top levels, but also people of different ethnicity and culture. Ultimately, peoples strengths lie in being different. What is true of CMS is true of many organisations.
Walk the walk
Katie emphasised throughout her talk the importance of driving change through actions. What positive actions can we as individuals take to solve the problem which we have identified?
We can not expect change to happen just because it needs to happen.
After undertaking the largest merger in legal history, CMS saw an opportunity to reset its strategy, and in this strategy set one of its core values as diversity. Over the years CMS has delivered many market-leading policies to promote diversity, showing that they are in fact "walking the walk".
Just one of these is their agile working policy which aims to normalise time out of the office (i.e. women having children). CMS offer the second parent a fully paid parental leave policy for 6 months. Once you have second parents or men taking time out, they come back with a different attitude and do not revert back to gender norms. Only experience truly educates.
It is not the sole responsibility of the CEO or senior management team to change diversity, it is the responsibility of everyone within the organisation. What Katie said very powerfully with many examples is that you cannot change the world by yourself but you can change what you have power over. Think about the one step you can take to make a difference and make it your target.
Katie for example:
- Only speaks at events where there is an equal number of women speaking as men.
- She also goes out of her way to mentor and sponsor individuals that will drive the diversity she wants to see at CMS.
- Is a driving force for The LeadHers program which actively seeks female entrepreneurs to become part of CMS' Equip group of startups. Read more here.
Finally, I wanted to leave you with Katie's strong ending:
"If each of us do one little thing, together that can be really powerful"
"We can not expect change to happen just because it needs to happen."