Elevate Recap: Developing Women in Tech: Learn How to Create Growth Environments

By Joy Heath Rush posted 10-22-2019 12:28


On Tuesday, October 8, 2019, ILTA CEO Joy Heath Rush spoke at the Elevate 2019 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Alongside Rush, panelists Claudia Reese, NetDocuments Sr. Director of Human Resources, Teka Pope, Sr. Manager of Knowledge Services at The Walt Disney Company, Tanya Garig, Director of Risk Management Information Services, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, Caroline Hill, Editor-in-Chief at Legal IT Insider, and Valerie Connell, Director, Document Management, NetDocuments sat down to recognize the power of diversity.

Joy’s session takeaways:

"It was my pleasure to serve on a panel on women in legal technology at Elevate. A mix of law firm, in-house counsel, press, and technology speakers answered questions about mentoring, advancing your career, and encouraging women to enter - and then stay in - STEM. Thanks to Claudia Reese for posing some excellent, data-driven questions!"

- From Pillsbury's Tanya Garig - powerful comments about the importance of being a role model. For a long time, she did not realize how many people in her organization were looking up to her.

- From Legal IT Insider's Caroline Hill - advice to be bold and to act. It is easy to feel that diversity and inclusion are issues too big to tackle, but Caroline argued persuasively about how much difference one person can make when willing to act.

- From NetDocs' Valerie Connell - excellent insight on the difference between a sponsor and a mentor. Mentoring is important. However, a sponsor is critical; a sponsor not only opens doors for you but walks through the doors side-by-side with you.

- From Disney's Teka Pope - a great personal story on encouraging her young daughter to take an interest in tech, along with more great personal stories about balancing parenting and work in tech and an important point around the fact that a tech background can help you prepare for careers that don't exist today but may tomorrow.

- From All Panelists - we need to help our organizations extend D&I efforts beyond the lawyer ranks, avoid unconscious bias in job postings and interview questions, act purposefully in meetings to seek out the opinions of women, and find ways to encourage more female applicants for engineering positions.

On aspiring to be in the C-Suite, Claudia asked Joy about her journey of becoming a CEO. Joy's counsel was three-fold:

  1. You will move up by saying yes and delivering under all circumstances; however, the higher you go in your career, the more important it will be to know when and how to say no.
  2. Be curious and reward curiosity and remember that the only "bad" questions are repeat questions (over and over and over).
  3. Take a brutally purposeful look at your aspirations vs. your skills, then set out to fill those skill gaps.


Additionally, ILTA wishes thanks Jobst Elster, Head of Content/Legal Market Strategy at InsideLegal.com, for his onsite coverage of the Elevate meeting. Below, he provides our ILTA readers with some additional, short notes on how leaders are shaping the future to create environments for women in tech to succeed:

  • Sponsoring vs. mentoring was an ongoing discussion; how can we do both?
  • Discussed diversity; how girls get involved in STEM, corporate responsibility, 
  • Authenticity of intent: Stereotypical depiction vs. intent and your reasons. This needs to be companywide.
  • Confidence issue - not going to argue to have my voice heard,
  • Foster growth vs. expertise,
  • Diversity and inclusion vs. just diversity in isolation. Please note that ILTA added ‘foster diversity and inclusion’ as a company core value; diversity and inclusion pass course, 
  • Action vs. ‘analysis paralysis’: “Just do something”,
  • Importance of bringing staff into lawyer-focused diversity programs,
  • Path to success & leadership: Joy: “Say yes and execute under all circumstances, but also learn how to say no. Be brutally purposeful about your skill sets. Don’t underestimate the power of curiosity”,
  • Culture of “need to know” is not helpful. Culture is critical (comment from audience/Judy Flournoy on this),
  • Be brave and ask… What role do/can men play?
  • Communication is key

For more Elevate information, please check out: