Strategies for building inclusive workplaces - ChIPs Global Summit Recap

By Maya Mancuso


Our team, Katharine Stephens, Rebecca O'Kelly-Gillard, Nick Aries and Maya Mancuso, attended the ChIPs ninth annual Global Summit for Women in Tech, Law and Policy which was held virtually on November 4-6, 2020.

Over three days, ChIPs hosted more than 12 live sessions featuring 50 women leaders in tech, law and policy. Each day also included multiple live networking opportunities and virtual activities to allow attendees to engage and get to know each other socially. We were delighted to be an Ally sponsor and host clients for this impactful summit.

We include some of the key takeaways from the conference that could be used for building a more inclusive workplace:

  • A lot of law firms and tech companies had Diversity & Inclusion programs at the start of the year and are quickly finding they need to be adapted and developed. The events of 2020 have placed a renewed focus on ensuring equity is part of the conversation as well. There should be a focus on equity and fairness throughout the entirety of a career, including equity in job placement, advancement and pay.

  • The more emphasis a legal team places on implementing inclusivity and tracking equity, they are more likely to able to recruit and retain diverse teams.

  • Diversity & Inclusion can be improved in the wider legal and tech industry if organisations take a diverse slate approach when it comes to hiring. Before you make an offer for an open position, ensure that a diverse slate was considered for this position. Keep the position open until a diverse slate has been considered.

  • Men are often promoted based on potential. Women and underrepresented minorities are often promoted based on past achievements. When making decisions on promotions and advancements, try to pay attention to how much women and underrepresented minorities have to prove themselves to even be considered.

  • As part of their Inclusion Blueprint, ChIPs suggested these actions to drive inclusivity at the practice group level:
  • Provide equal access to client leadership roles and business generation.
  • Provide equal access to quality work and visibility with clients.
  • Provide equal access to sponsorship by influential partners.
  • Team leaders can create a more inclusive environment by requiring that all team members block out time in their calendar for personal or family time. By doing this, it creates space for mental well-being and levels the playing field so staff caring for family will be less concerned that it appears they are the only ones in the team taking an hour in the day for family obligations. This is especially relevant while so many team members are working from home and struggling to find balance between their home and work responsibilities.

  • Many companies are finding success in retaining a diverse workforce by adopting returnship programs for their staff who have been away from the workforce to care for children and sick or aging family members. Successful returnship programs often incorporate flexible work hours and part time opportunities.

  • Women in leadership can help build a more inclusive workplace by committing to use whatever power and influence they have, however large or small, to help open up opportunities for other underrepresented minorities in innovation, tech, law & policy. 

This is only a short snapshot of the many impactful ideas discussed by speakers and participants at the ChIPs Global Summit. We look forward to the 2021 Summit and continued collaborations with this community to help advance women in tech, law and policy.