Greater Gender Equity and Inclusivity Is Alive and Well at Ogletree Deakins

September 15, 2020
MRA Edge
Diversity and Inclusion
Read time: 3 mins


When a company’s culture walks its talk, word gets around fast. Meet MRA member Ogletree Deakins, where diversity and inclusivity play a major role in how it goes about its business.

The law firm’s Professional Development and Inclusion (PDI) department is the foundation of its inclusion efforts. The PDI team strategically creates the fundamentals for inclusion for each employee, prioritizing workforce needs to make sure all employees have the tools to succeed.

PDI supports the firm’s women’s business resource group Ogletree Deakins Women’s Initiative (ODWIN), which looks for new avenues to encourage women with business and leadership development opportunities within the firm. A targeted business development program for women, the Business Accelerator Program (BAP), was rolled out by PDI in 2016. This program is facilitated by an external consultant and aims to support the business development efforts of women nonequity shareholders, a key factor in being promoted to equity shareholder.

Additionally, ODWIN championed the creation of a Women’s Task Force, a firm-wide team that studies issues related to the advancement and recognition of women attorneys. The task force was developed in 2017 to specifically address issues that may have inadvertently impacted women including:

  • Pay equity. An external study was conducted which demonstrated there is no statistical difference to indicate disparity in pay between male and female attorneys.
  • Paid family leave. The maximum paid parental leave was increased from 12 weeks to 16 weeks and is encouraged to be used when it’s needed.
  • Last-minute care. On-demand backup service for childcare centers, in-home care, and help for an aging adult is always available to balance any eleventh-hour needs that come up at home.
  • The Milk Stork program. Breastfeeding attorneys traveling on firm business can ship their breastmilk home on the company’s dime.
  • A business resource group dedicated to caregivers, ODFamily. This group targets attorneys and staff transitioning back to the office after parental or caregiver leave with timely guidance through firm-wide webinars, as well as access to counseling and support services via the firm’s Mindful Return Program.

“Law firms’ cultures industry-wide have seen a shift in focus regarding gender equity in the last several years,” said Sarah J. Platt, Shareholder. “At Ogletree, we want to make a meaningful difference, and being as inclusive as we can be is one way we are doing that.”

What’s one of the biggest benefits of the firm’s inclusivity efforts? Representation. Ogletree makes sure that women are represented on the board, in the C-suite, and in practice group and office manager leadership roles. Any place where leadership is attainable, women are present.

The firm’s inclusion efforts are not a destination, but a journey. There is always tweaking going on and programs are being enhanced to ensure that the diverse needs of attorneys and staff are reflected in significant and impactful ways.

“One thing we are trying to do more of is to seek women’s input proactively when designing programs geared toward their success,” said Michelle Wimes, Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer. “Chances are a man is not going to think about what to do when nursing while traveling. If we have women in roles that can help to create and establish such policies, it shows that women are valued, and creates a higher level of engagement and retention.”

Recent stats at Ogletree:

  • Ogletree Board of Directors – 33 percent women
  • Compensation Committee – 40 percent women
  • Office Managing Shareholders – 29 percent women
  • Practice Group Leaders – 36 percent women

Latest Women-Related Awards and Recognition:

  • 2019 Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Flex Success Award – Office Managing Shareholder Stacy Bunck
  • 2018 & 2019 Working Mother Best Law Firms for Women
  • 2018 & 2019 WILEF Gold Standard Firm
  • 2018 The National Law Journal’s Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys
  • 2018 Vault Associate Survey, Top Rated Firm for Diversity for Women


MRA Edge Sept/Oct 2020

Read the full issue.