Creating a Culture with Pathways to Leadership


Women’s leadership and advancement have shaped Cornerstone Research’s culture and driven our success since day one.

Founded in 1989, we were the rare economics and finance consulting firm with women cofounders. From the beginning, this distinction helped us create an innovative corporate culture dedicated to quality, collaboration, and making sure every individual in every role feels valued and is able to contribute fully.

Attracting and retaining the highest-caliber people is foundational to fulfilling our mission. The practices we employed to achieve this goal have led to a high share of women in our leadership. As we built a culture that focused on engaging sharp, committed employees, we discovered and formalized the most effective ways to cultivate professional development. Our women succeed because we deliberately build pathways to leadership for all employees. Today:

  • 46% of our staff are women
  • 39% of our officers and principals are women
  • 50% of our practice and office heads are women
  • 50% of our C-suite are women

Our purposeful efforts to engage our employees and build pathways to leadership have led to our inclusion in Inc. magazine’s “List of Best Workplaces” (2020) and other regional and industry honors for our unique teamwork culture and commitment to developing future leaders. Later in this series of posts, we will discuss the importance of creating an intentional culture and more of the specific strategies we’ve implemented to develop these pathways.

Beyond our own firm, Cornerstone Research’s Women’s Forums help women in the legal community build networks and promote professional development at all stages. Hosted in cities throughout the United States (and remotely during the pandemic), the forums feature inspiring speakers, foster discussion of thought-provoking topics, and share practical strategies and best practices from leading authorities for professional and personal development.

Women’s leadership and advancement have shaped Cornerstone Research’s culture and driven our success since day one.

Gender Parity: Good for Business, Critical for Industry

Studies have shown that companies with greater gender diversity simply perform better. The relative scarcity of women in the finance and economics fields puts a premium on finding creative ways to attract—and then retain—high-performing staff. For us, that has included, among other things, working with people on a flexible basis and thoughtfully reintegrating both female and male staff after extended parental leaves.

Our ability to meet exacting case requirements demands a depth and breadth of expertise that would be impossible to achieve without a diversity of perspectives. The presence of women across our firm and their progression to senior positions create a positive feedback loop by making our firm appealing to new female hires and helping us attract and retain an expansive pool of talented candidates.

Meanwhile, senior female staff continue to encourage and mentor the next generation through regular group conversations about topics such as advancing their careers, work/life balance, and communication. And gender-balanced leadership teams continue to help us creatively and effectively navigate the workplace changes brought on by COVID-19.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “Choose to Challenge.” At Cornerstone Research, we recognize the significant strides we have made and challenge ourselves to keep pushing the needle forward on gender parity. We invite you to join our explorations in the coming months.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Cornerstone Research.

Additional Resources

Women in the Workplace 2020. McKinsey and Company, and, 2020.

Within Reach? Achieving Gender Equity in Financial Services Leadership. Deloitte Center for Financial Services, 2019.

Closing the Gap: Leadership Perspectives on Promoting Women in Financial Services. McKinsey and Company, 2018.