(CHICAGO) Katten announced today that it celebrated Women's History Month with two guest speakers: Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia "Cynt" Marshall, the first Black female CEO in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA); and Dame Inga Beale, the first female CEO of Lloyd's of London.

"At Katten, we place a high value on diversity and equality and foster an inclusive workplace where everyone is empowered to achieve success," said Partner Kenya Woodruff, national chair of Katten's Women's Leadership Forum, which supports the growth, advancement and retention of women attorneys through various programs and events. That group hosted both guest speakers in honor of Women's History Month.

"This is a time to reflect on the many achievements and contributions of women that hopefully doubles as a call to action to break down barriers, eliminate discrimination and challenge biases that restrict women's opportunities and representation," Woodruff said. "We are so honored to have been joined by two extraordinarily accomplished women who smashed glass ceilings and bucked gender stereotypes."

As Mavs CEO for the past five years, Marshall has been an advocate for inclusion and diversity in the NBA and elsewhere and was named among the world's most inspiring female leaders by Forbes in 2021. During her virtual Katten presentation, moderated by Woodruff, Marshall offered pearls of wisdom culled from her 40+ years of management experience.

"I believe that, in order to be a very effective leader, I have to do three things: listen to the people, learn from the people, and love the people," she said, crediting that approach for her noted career success. Her remarks were a continual scroll of bite-sized insights: "There is value in showing up … Results matter … Learn not only about your company but your industry." A stage 4 colon cancer survivor, she urged listeners to listen to their bodies.

Marshall touched on issues professional women commonly face. As the mother of four adopted children, now adults, she said she prioritizes dueling demands on her time by categorizing them as "crystal and rubber balls," the point being that some projects can be dropped or tossed to someone else without trouble while others must be personally handled with care. Her son's first swim meet at his new school in a new state where the family moved for Marshall's new job — that was a "crystal ball."

"I knew he needed to see me supporting him … Sometimes, you do the best you can but then you realize that you can't do it all and that people will understand," she said, having worked as a leader at AT&T for more than three decades, improving workplace culture and encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion. In this way and others, she and Beale thoroughly mesh.

Known as a champion for women and the LGBTQ+ community, Beale became the first female CEO of the financial institution Lloyd's of London in 2014 and served in that role for four years. Then, in 2017, she was awarded damehood, recognizing her preeminent contribution to the field of finance and her ongoing advocacy of gender parity.

"I underestimated the absolute resistance to change," Beale said at Katten's International Women's Day event in London. "I had some of the market supporting me. A lot of women were cheering, 'this is amazing.' I had (some) men not supporting me … and I had people in the middle. But it wasn't actually about me. It was that they didn't want to change. And who could blame them? They had been successful (without change) for 325 years."

Beale's talk focused on concrete efforts she took to tackle the lack of diversity, bring more women into leadership roles, and change the Lloyd's of London culture. She emphasized the importance of empowering diverse voices, establishing mentoring programs and creating greater inclusivity to foster success. She also discussed the value of allyship.

"Men as allies for women are so important," she said. "It's so powerful if you can show your support to encourage women and be there for them. So, if you see that we are spoken over by someone, if we've raised something and then been criticized for being too angry or aggressive about something, then someone else steps in and says 'no, no, I think that was perfectly fair.' It just takes courage, in the moment, to actually speak up and challenge."