Paradigm for Parity® CEO Spotlight Series: Gerry Pecht, Norton Rose Fulbright
The Paradigm for Parity® coalition CEO Spotlight Series showcases member company CEOs who are transforming their corporate culture to advance women of all races, cultures and backgrounds.
This week, we are delighted to feature Gerry Pecht, CEO of global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. Pecht enthused that “sponsorship,’ Point five of the Paradigm for Parity 5-Point Action Plan, is a “key part of the global DEI agenda at Norton Rose Fulbright.” He emphasized that “hard work, talent and ambition are all important, but so is having someone who will help to secure you the best opportunities, give you a platform and provide you with ongoing support. Having an effective sponsor has such a significant impact on career advancement.”
1. What motivated your company to join the Paradigm for Parity® coalition?
It’s not good enough to just say that we care about gender diversity and that we are committed to achieving gender parity, we must also take a public stance so that we are accountable for the progress we make. Joining the Paradigm for Parity coalition was key to this accountability. We want to make meaningful change within the legal industry and be visible in this commitment. This is important not only to help us achieve our gender diversity goals but also to show the women in our organization that we see them and we are working to level the playing field.
2. What role can/should CEOs play in leveling the playing field for marginalized groups, including women and people of color, in the workforce?
Everyone has a sphere of influence — be it small or large — and so everyone has a platform they can use to champion the DEI agenda. As a CEO, your platform and your reach within your organization is considerable and so I believe we should always be mindful of that. Visible and authentic leadership is powerful. It galvanizes the senior colleagues around you, empowers your people to take action and inspires a sense of trust in those who are underrepresented in your organization. In order to be authentic as a leader, you must invest time in understanding the issues at hand and you must commit resources to addressing the DEI challenges your business faces.
3. How is your company advocating for, lifting up and supporting women of color in your workplace? What has made the biggest difference in advancing all women in your company?
In 2020, we announced an aspirational new gender target for our global partnership of 40% women, 40% men and 20% flexibility to be truly inclusive. The 20% flexibility allows us to be inclusive of all employees, including not only those who identify as male or female, but also those who are non-binary. Our partnership is currently 28% women, and our Global Executive Committee is 45% women. In addition, women made up 44% of our partner promotions globally this year. This shows that setting targets and being transparent about diversity ambitions can really help to drive progress.
4. When you look at the Paradigm for Parity® coalition 5-Point Action Plan, is there one step that you think is most critical to ensuring that women of color have the same opportunities for advancement as their colleagues?
There really is no silver bullet. The organizations that make the best progress will be the ones that take a rounded approach. For me, point five (Sponsorship) has the potential to make the biggest impact, and that’s why it’s a key part of the global DEI agenda at Norton Rose Fulbright. Most people who currently occupy senior positions in our profession can speak to the importance of the sponsor who helped them get there. Yes, hard work, talent and ambition are all important, but so is having someone who will help to secure you the best opportunities, give you a platform and provide you with ongoing support. Having an effective sponsor has such a significant impact on career advancement.
Gerry Pecht is Global Chief Executive of Norton Rose Fulbright and is responsible for the strategic direction and development of the global firm, including its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. Under Gerry’s leadership, Norton Rose Fulbright is committed to providing clients with the highest standard of legal service across its global platform, combining innovation and efficiency in its world-class offering. Guided by its global business principles of quality, unity and integrity, the firm is intent on using its skills and knowledge where it can make a difference, whether it is for clients, or for wider communities. The firm is also committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment, championing the fight against racism, sexism and social injustice and promoting sustainable best practice through its internal policies as well as through its pro bono, volunteering and charitable giving programs.
Gerry served as the firm’s Global Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation prior to being elected Global Chief Executive. Recognized by both Chambers USA and The Legal 500 United States, Gerry focuses his practice on securities litigation and enforcement, energy litigation, internal corporate investigations, international litigation and arbitration.
About Paradigm for Parity®
Paradigm for Parity® is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. The coalition is made up of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity.