Women Attorneys of Verrill
Studies show that women make up only 29% of brewery workers across the country. In ancient civilizations, and even Early America, brewing beer was traditionally a woman’s job, but it’s clear that today the industry is predominantly male. Initiatives like the Pink Boots Society have helped raise awareness, but big steps are still needed to create gender equality within the community. The legal industry has faced a similar challenge. The American Bar Association reported that women made up only 32% of attorneys nationwide in 2008. Statistics have improved only slightly since then with 36% of attorneys being women at the end of 2018, showing there is still a great deal of progress to be made to close the gender gap in the industry as a whole, especially in leadership roles.
Although progress is occurring slowly, change has happened in the legal industry through recruiting initiatives, family-friendly policies, mentoring programs, and sensitivity trainings. Firms that are providing more flexibility and support for career advancement for all are leveling the playing field for all, regardless of gender.
Verrill is a law firm that’s proving change is possible. The firm was recognized as one of the top ten law firms in the country for gender equality by the National Law Journal in the 2018 “NLJ 500 Women’s Scorecard,” in addition to being named a 2017 Law360 Ceiling Smasher and ranked in Law360’s 2015 and 2016 Glass Ceiling Reports.
Today, Verrill’s Executive Board is majority-female, with Boston-based partner Regina Hurley elected to the role of Chair this year. In addition, many of the firm’s practice group and committee chairs and senior administrative team are women. Rare within the industry and beyond the average for comparably-sized firms, 40% of the firm’s partners are women.
A Word of Advice
Several of Verrill’s women in leadership have provided the following advice to inspire female brewers at- or striving to be at the top, and those seeking to achieve gender equality within their own brewery:
Tawny Alvarez, Chair of Breweries, Distilleries & Wineries Group: “I have a quote that I look at daily: ‘It’s not easy, but nothing of value is.’ Every time inappropriate comments are made or people assume I’m a legal assistant, I tuck those moments away and they drive me to work harder and to arm myself with tools that will assist me in proving to others (and sometimes myself) that I am a competent attorney, advocate, advisor, and litigator. In addition, don’t be afraid to share your experiences with other people. Remembering that you are (unfortunately) not the only woman who is experiencing some of these bias statements and actions or attempting to knock down walls in the industry. When you acknowledge this and discuss your experiences you will find yourself with a support system of peers as well as women you will become committed to mentoring and sponsoring so that women continue to advance within the industry.”
Regina Hurley, Partner and Executive Board Chair: “Creating a culture of equality starts from the top. Building a diverse and inclusive workplace starts with truly listening to your employees and adapting training, policies and programs as needed to make all feel welcome.”
Gretchen Johnson, Director of Marketing: “Being female in a male-dominated workplace has challenges, but it’s important to remember that you have a unique voice and value to add. With competition in the brewing community increasing, women are a growing target market for the craft beer industry –your fresh perspective is even more significant.”
Lisa LaMarche, Director of Accounting: “Don’t aspire to leadership for leadership’s sake. Instead, visualize success for yourself and the company, and then follow that vision with confident authority. Those who share that vision will join you, support you, and follow your lead. That is what makes you a leader.”
Michele Pattenaude, Director of Human Resources: “Recognizing the need for many employers to pursue larger-scale awareness and sensitivity, we launched a new initiative last year that complements one of our core values – mutual respect. The initiative goes beyond addressing the #metoo phenomenon and is a proactive approach to building upon the expectations of true respect, inclusion, safety and trust in all interactions. It’s through initiatives such as this and our proactive approach and commitment to incorporating equality and inclusion that helps our firm stand out as a great place to work for all.”
Jacqueline Rider, Partner and Chair of Diversity Committee: “It’s not enough to invite women and other diverse candidates to join your firm or business. They must be provided with the opportunity for success and leadership through development, mentorship, and sponsorship. Your commitment to these diversity and inclusion efforts must be authentic.”
This feature is a part of a the MBG’s Inclusion & Diversity Success Story Series with the goal to share best practices, recruitment strategies, and event & program ideas that members can bring home to their breweries. Does your brewery or business have a story that they’d like to share? The MBG’s Diversity Committee wants to hear it! Reach out to MBG Executive Director Katie Stinchon at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.