28 January 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – “Premier women’s organization honors Sidley’s program that has “demonstrated results in advancing managerial and professional women.”
In recognition of its initiative to retain and promote women lawyers, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP has been honored with the 2005 Catalyst Award. The Award is given annually by Catalyst, the leading research and advisory organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women and business.
The award recognizes “innovative approaches with proven results taken by companies to address the recruitment, development, and advancement of women,” according to Catalyst. The Catalyst Award has been presented previously to companies including Allstate, Baxter, Bayer, Deloitte, Fannie Mae, General Electric, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Sara Lee.
Elements of the initiative recognized by Catalyst include:
Reduced hours work arrangements. Since the 1980’s, Sidley has supported flexible work arrangements and promoted lawyers who work reduced hours to partnership.
Mentoring opportunities. Formal programs match new associates with experienced attorneys in their practice groups, and incoming female associates are assigned a “mentoring circle” of lawyers across a range of seniority and practice groups.
Practice development opportunities. Firm networking events have featured a varied roster of prominent women in business, law, government, and the arts. Other programs involve orientation and training sessions for lawyers at various levels, social and networking opportunities, and recruiting.
“For years, women have comprised 50% or more of law school graduates and constitute a significant portion of the pool of top legal talent,” said Thomas A. Cole, chairman of Sidley’s executive committee.
“Our commitment to diversity begins with our belief that it is the right thing to do; we also understand that it is in our self-interest and furthers the interests of our clients. Our success in advancing the careers of women is also a reflection of the exemplary performance and talent of our women colleagues, who have shown that reduced hours arrangements can work beautifully and who have selflessly mentored others,” continued Mr. Cole. “We are deeply gratified that Catalyst has chosen to honor us for the creation of this important initiative enhancing opportunities for women. It is also a privilege to be recognized with this year’s other award recipient, Georgia -Pacific.”
Women long have held significant positions of responsibility at Sidley. The firm has about 540 women lawyers and 101 partners. Sidley’s initiative began in 1998 with the establishment of a task force. In 2001, the firm’s Committee on the Retention and Promotion of Women was formally established to ensure sustained and ongoing diversity efforts.