WomenTech Global Conference: Insights from Thomson Reuters Women Leading Legal Tech
Several Thomson Reuters leaders participated in last week’s WomenTech Global Conference, a virtual conference uniting 100,000 women in tech to foster innovation. Among the Thomson Reuters presenters at the event were:
- Rawia Ashraf, vice President of Product – Legal Practice and Productivity, who discussed the importance of product and technology teams sharing the same vision and priorities;
- Emily Colbert, vice president of Product Management, who shared how Thomson Reuters is shifting from content to content-enabled technology and unlocking the value of human expertise;
- Anu Dodda, head of Engineering, Corporates Tax and Trade, who shared how to do product engineering through modern and cloud technologies and how to create resilient engineering that produces a system that can adapt;
- Ideshini Naidoo, head of Engineering – Legal Practice & Productivity, who discussed how to better understand the implications of AI and use this knowledge to guide its ethical use; and
- Dawn Sepehr, research scientist, who discussed the company’s history of providing information to professionals.
Legal Current had an opportunity to catch up with some of the presenters after the conference for their perspective on women’s leadership in legal tech, and today we’re sharing some of our conversation.
LC: Why is it important to be part of the WomenTech Global Conference and speak about women’s leadership in tech?
Ashraf: Representation matters. We know women are underrepresented in technology at all levels, especially at the leadership level. By participating in events like this we help change the story about who belongs in technology-related fields and who can lead these fields. And participating in these events opens the door for other women to enter the technology space and stay in that space. When you see someone who looks like you or has a similar biography as you in a position of leadership, you can more easily see yourself in that position.
Dodda: It is important for me as a woman in tech and a leader to contribute to the community in whatever way I can by sharing my experience and learning as a way to attract, influence and raise the interest for fellow women to continue to stay course and seek technology as a main stream domain for their career growth.
LC: What does it mean from a Thomson Reuters perspective, as a technology-driven company, to support female leadership in tech?
Colbert: We know that gender diversity leads to more productive and successful companies – yet women are still woefully underrepresented in tech leadership. From a Thomson Reuters perspective, as a technology company, we have a part in that underrepresentation and a responsibility to effect change. As a company in the midst of a major technical evolution and desire for change, we have no choice if we want to succeed. Without diversity in tech leadership, how can we expect to transform?
Dodda: Diversity of thought is very important for the leadership in tech given the growing needs of building inclusive and compassionate products and solutions for customer bases in any domain or market. Thomson Reuters as a technology-driven company is hyper focused in promoting diversity and inclusion, and building diverse teams and creating inclusive culture.
Naidoo discussed what she sees as the top challenges facing women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a recent interview with Thrive Global: “One of the biggest challenges I believe women in STEM face is finding their voice to speak up in a room full of people. There are a lot of reasons we hesitate and don’t speak up — the fear of being wrong, or that we’ll be met with resistance, create conflict or be judged for what we’re saying. When we as women, or people of colour, hold back and hesitate, we hold back diversity of thought and different perspectives. We fight so hard to get a seat at the table and then the seat is not being used — it’s just being warmed up.”
She emphasized that everyone can contribute to unlocking the power of diversity: “To help address this hesitation, it’s not only incumbent upon people of minorities to have the courage to speak up, but on all of us to foster a group dynamic that provides the psychological safety to make it easier for diverse members of the group to speak up.”
Thomson Reuters was honored to sponsor the WomenTech Global Conference. For more on how Thomson Reuters supports gender diversity and women in leadership roles, check out the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) program and download the latest TWLL annual report. Also, learn about the company’s Leadhership1 program, and read the white paper “Pandemic Nation: Understanding Its Impact on Lawyers from Underrepresented Communities,” which explores how COVID has affected career progression for women lawyers and lawyers of color.