About five years ago, several associates within my firm approached me separately to ask why our firm did not have an active women's initiative. They expressed concern that junior women did not really know — or have access to — the female partners. They had noticed that there were built-in informal forums for our male colleagues to gather and get to know one another (e.g., firm softball team, basketball team, golf outings). While the firm did have programs geared toward women, they were externally focused on networking and business development. 

The need identified by my junior colleagues was a more basic one: Women who work together share common interests, professional goals, challenges, and sometimes anxieties. They were looking for a place where they could talk about their day to day and find out if their experiences were unique, or if more senior women within the firm had any tips or best practices. At the most basic level, the women were looking for a constructive way to get out of their practice area silos from time to time to learn more about what was going on elsewhere in the firm and have an opportunity for professional camaraderie. 

We started with a simple vision, which was to empower and support our women to achieve professional and personal success, but this vision is not the only thing that would get this newfound women's initiative off the ground. We came up with the five main elements that make up the "secret sauce" of a successful women's initiative.

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