As a young associate in the corporate bankruptcy and restructuring group of a large, Philadelphia law firm, it was recommended to me that I join the Philadelphia chapter of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA). The TMA is a global organization of professionals involved in the insolvency and restructuring industries – a community of reorganization attorneys, accountants, financial advisors and turnaround professionals that support companies in distress. Of course, this was the perfect organization for me to learn, network and become involved.
So I signed up for my first event: a breakfast meeting at an iconic, traditionally-all-white-male-member club. I remember walking down the long, mahogany hallway lined with huge, imposing portraits of men, their eyes following me as I made my way into the event. As I walked in, it was as though those men had jumped off of the walls and into the room, as a sea of older men in dark navy and black suits stood there, eating breakfast and talking. There were a handful of women, but they were hard to find. I did not see anyone that looked like me.
After several more similar experiences, I started thinking that something had to change. I knew there were certainly some women in the male-dominated industry. So I approached the president of the Philadelphia chapter and asked him if there was any kind of women’s networking group. There was not. When I asked if I could start one for the chapter, he was incredibly supportive.
And so that was exactly what I did. I coordinated a list of as many women attorneys, bankers and accountants that I could find and invited them to a networking event at a local restaurant. It was a huge success and over several years, I created events that drew women and cultivated a culture of comradery and inclusion. This experience allowed me tremendous growth and I subsequently co-chaired the women’s leadership and development initiative for TMA Global at the international level for several years. By that time, the issue of diversity and inclusion, and particularly gender diversity, was being discussed more. No longer were simple networking events enough. Women wanted to know more about how to develop business, how to navigate the workplace, how to be viewed as equal in the business world. So I created those opportunities – panels and training sessions and half-day, substantive leadership summits – to address those issues and give women the tools that they needed to succeed in the ever-changing business world. And it made a difference.
I started wondering if I was on to something – if the value I was creating inside the turnaround industry could be extrapolated outside the industry – to professional service firms and companies who needed support for their gender diversity initiatives in order to create more substantive programs. And so Trellis was born.
The Story of Trellis:
The evolution of Trellis germinated from a seed of gender programming support to much more. It grew into a comprehensive, integrative platform that cultivates culture and provides the foundational structure to create environments of equal access for all stakeholders. Rooted in gender diversity, the Trellis team began to understand that it was essential for everyone to be included in the conversation. We understood that diversity is not a dichotomy – it is not about black or white, male or female, young or old. It is about looking beneath the surface to the myriad of factors that makes each of us who we are and valuing those differences.
Based on research, interactions with over a thousand stakeholders and discussions with company and professional firm leaders, Trellis developed a methodology that positions organizations for competitive advantage, high performance and sustainability in the 21st century workplace. Trellis focuses on leveraging the different strengths, skills, mindsets and experiences of stakeholders as the mechanism to drive diversity and inclusion. Utilizing a unique, from-the-ground-up/top-down execution approach, Trellis helps instill a cultivating culture throughout all organizational processes of pipeline development to attract, retain and develop the best talent. Through a data driven, empirical framework, Trellis has grown from a programming provider to a customized, outcome-oriented, embedded diversity solution. We help stakeholders climb, achieve, lead and thrive so your organization can.