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Williams Mullen Takes Action to Advance Women and Build Diverse Pipeline

Williams Mullen | June 7, 2023

Since Williams Mullen CEO Woody Fowler signed the CRE Pledge for Action, our firm has made significant strides to enhance the firm’s diversity, inclusivity, and equitable treatment of our women attorneys and other individuals in underrepresented groups. We have an active Diversity & Inclusion Committee as well as an active Women’s Initiative (WIN) Steering Committee to help drive action toward growth.

We are proud of the progress we have made toward the CRE Pledge for Action goals, and to the extent we still have progress to make, we are excited to work within the structure of the CRE Pledge for Action to continue making strides toward positive change.

Williams Mullen’s progress along five of the six CRE Pledge for Action goals is detailed below.

1. Partner with CREW Network to support our mission to transform the industry by advancing women and begin your efforts now to make change.

Alyssa Dangler, President of the CREW Network and partner in Williams Mullen’s Norfolk office, introduced the CRE Pledge to Williams Mullen CEO, Woody Fowler, and other firm leaders. The collective decision to sign was an easy yes, and Alyssa and Woody have worked together through their respective leadership roles to align the CREW Network’s mission and our firm’s own goals for meaningful industry change.

3. Increase inclusion in your company through senior executive sponsorship of women and/or other individuals in underrepresented groups within the company.

The Williams Mullen Women’s Initiative (WIN) has created a voluntary Sponsorship Program for women attorneys wherein an influential shareholder is partnered with each participant to work toward her career success.

The program’s stated mission is “to advance the Firm’s commitment to our women attorneys by investing in their pursuit of equity shareholder status.” Goals within that mission include (1) investing in the long-term success of our women attorneys; (2) promoting and retaining our women attorneys; and (3) diversifying our firm’s leadership.

Each year, WIN’s leadership committee reviews program applications, selects up to three participants, and carefully pairs each participant with a sponsor who aligns with her career needs. The firm provides internal administrative support and external coaching for each pair.

4. Advance women to your company’s top roles to achieve gender diversity in leadership.

Williams Mullen has proudly appointed women to represent a third of our leadership committees, including seats on our Board of Directors, Compensation Committee, Section Leadership and Executive Suite.

We are also proud to announce that 40% of our partnership promotions in 2023 were women, including 50% of our 2023 salaried shareholder class and a third of our 2023 equity shareholder class.

5. Increase diversity in your company and in the industry through intentional recruiting and hiring of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

In an effort to increase diversity in our recruiting and hiring pipelines, Williams Mullen awards select law students between their first and second years of law school (1Ls) with a $3000 scholarship to be applied to the student’s second-year tuition and a paid six-week position in Williams Mullen’s Summer Associate program.

A selection panel, including members of the firm’s Diversity Committee, evaluates applications, interviews finalists and selects recipients of the scholarship. Students accepted as 1L Diversity Fellows receive priority consideration for an offer of summer employment the following year.

Williams Mullen recently expanded the program to place 1L students in more offices across our firm’s footprint. 

6. Implement accountability strategies in your company to measure progress.

The Williams Mullen Diversity & Inclusion Committee operates by a strategic plan that includes five core principles to keep leadership and our employees accountable. Our current plan is organized into SMART goals that we track and measure throughout the year. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee has a dedicated team who manages the strategic plan, our execution of its goals, and refreshing our goals as we advance and adapt.