Recently I attended an AICPA meeting where we heard a panel discussion on women in professional services firms. On the one hand, it was clear the entire profession has progress to make; on the other hand, it was refreshing because it was clear that the ways DHG is tackling women’s issues are on point and appropriate. In fact, it made me especially proud of our Women Forward initiative.
It matters to DHG that we have a culture that promotes the advancement of the careers of each of our women, from the day she begins her career with us until she becomes a partner and a leader. Many businesses evolved before women were an active part of leadership, so they are unintentionally lacking in support systems, norms/mores, and decision-making processes that lend themselves to advancing women’s careers. As the father of a daughter pursuing a career in corporate responsibility, I especially feel the need for firms such as ours to proactively create pathways for women to succeed. Rethinking how we sponsor and support our women professionals is just the right thing to do. Furthermore, it simply makes good business sense. The decision makers of many of our existing and prospective clients are women, and thus having a woman’s perspective in all facets of our leadership is not only helpful but crucial.
One of our core values is innovation: the willingness to embrace change, to be creative, and to recognize that we are in a continual state of improving ourselves. Our Women Forward strategy calls on all of us — no matter our gender or our role in the Firm — to be innovative in how we manage the career opportunities for our women professionals. Let’s start with the notion that we want to be open to all ideas for how we can advance the career of a woman, and that all of us, women and men, need to closely consider how we work with one another, how we make mentoring decisions, and how we advise women in making life and career decisions. We can also discuss these matters with our clients, to gain their buy-in to our plans for building balanced lives for our people.
This type of innovation will enable us to be similarly creative in helping our men professionals with their career decisions. For example, when a male senior associate approaches one of our partners with a life choice due to an expanding family, we will need this same innovative spirit to advise him so he can continue to advance his career with our great firm. Likewise, as we pursue our strategy to build a more diverse team of professionals, one that is reflective of the broader communities in which we work, we must be similarly proactive, creative, and open-minded to help these professionals find their way to partnership and leadership of the firm.
By embracing this unencumbered view of shaping our professionals’ careers, together we will be fulfilling DHG’s mission: to build valuable careers for ALL of our people, while helping our clients achieve their goals.