The role of in-house teams has become more strategic over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The best ones are those that have demonstrated not just leadership and innovation, but also the ability to reshape themselves to better support their business in a changing world.
Akiko Yamakawa (AY): Congratulations on being ranked in the Asia’s Top 15 In-house Teams. Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo (Vanguard) has had the pleasure of working very closely with your team, and we are very excited about the news. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss gender diversity among Japan qualiﬁed (bengoshi) lawyers in Japan. The percentage of female lawyers is currently around 19%, which I ﬁnd shockingly low. Can you tell us what your team looks like, and what you are doing to enhance gender equality?
Emi Takeda (ET): Thank you! Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to our culture and core values of fostering an innovative, collaborative and high-energy work environment, and so we have been actively working to achieve these goals. Within the Japan Legal team, we have achieved a male to female ratio of 50:50. Also, 37% of the management level within our team is female, and I lead the team.
AY: That is impressive! How have you been able to develop such gender diversity within your team?
ET: Accenture has created several initiatives for legal globally. One of these initiatives is the implementation of the Mansfield Rule which has been very helpful in achieving our diversity and inclusion goals.
AY: Could you clarify the Mansﬁeld rule for me?
ET: Sure. The Mansﬁeld Rule actually was one of the winning ideas from the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon. The Mansﬁeld Rule creates guidelines and measurements for developing and promoting diversity in the legal field. Within Accenture whenever there is an opening such as a new job opening, an open leadership position, an available promotion, or a development opportunity, we require that 50% of the applicants be of a diverse background. In other words, we want to make sure that at least 50% of the pool of candidates is not homogenous.
AY: And this diversity includes not only women, but other diverse backgrounds as well?
ET: Correct. Women are of course part of the diverse candidate pool, but diversity could also extend to other groups such as ethnic minorities, self-identiﬁed LGBTQ+, and persons with disabilities. By using the Mansﬁeld Rule, Accenture Japan Legal has been able to diversify the candidate pool which has allowed us to obtain such gender diversity in Japan despite the low numbers of practicing female attorneys in general in Japan.
AY: What are some of those other initiatives at Accenture Legal?
ET: Some of the other initiatives include measuring leadership expectations and having outside counsel diversity.
AY: What do you mean by measuring leadership expectations?
ET: At Accenture, every Legal Managing Director is required to be accountable for fostering inclusion and diversity. In practice this means that every Legal Managing Director is required to come up with and support the advancement of at least one inclusion and diversity action to help promote inclusion and diversity within the company. This initiative ensures that inclusion and diversity are not just something that “we would like to have but will get around to when we have time”, but rather the initiative creates the requirement for action. Without action goals cannot be achieved.
AY: You also mentioned that Accenture expects outside counsel diversity. What does this mean?
ET: This means that Accenture Legal does not only value promoting diversity and inclusion from within, but also externally as well. We want to lead by example. So, when we work with outside counsel we also look for diversity and inclusion as well, and we want to signal to ﬁrms that we work with that we value diversity within their ﬁrms as well. I believe that your ﬁrm, Vanguard, has been trying to achieve diversity. Could you tell me what your ratio of male to female attorneys is?
AY: At Vanguard, we have three partners two of whom are men and then me as a woman partner. We also currently have 10 associates and of those 10, 4 associates are women, and 6 associates are men. We are making it a priority to further enhance diversity, with particular focus on making sure that we have a diverse pool of future partner candidates.
ET: Vanguard is a wonderful example of the type of outside counsel that we want to work with. Your ﬁrm not only has female attorneys at the associate level, but also at the partner level. By choosing to work with outside counsel that also prioritizes diversity, we hope to signal to the industry that this is important, and hopefully down the road, this also means that more women in Japan feel empowered to go into the area of law.
AY: I couldn’t agree more. I truly appreciate all of the insights you have provided showing how Accenture is striving to help achieve gender diversity in the workplace in Japan.
Managing Director - Legal