Meet Karen Morton, 2019 Academy of Women Achievers Awardee
On June 4th, 2019 we will join together and celebrate the achievements of five unstoppable women who demonstrate YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women at our 24th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon.
Since 1995, as part of our mission to promote and celebrate the achievements of women, YW Boston has held the Academy of Women Achievers luncheon. Through this event, we recognize and honor some of Boston’s brightest, boldest, bravest and most influential women. Leading up to the event, we are sitting down with each of the 2019 awardees for interviews and releasing one each month.
YW Boston is thrilled to be inducting Karen Morton, SVP and Deputy General Counsel for the Litigation and Coverage Group at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, into the Academy of Women Achievers. Learn more about Karen by reading our interview with her below:
We are excited to be recognizing you at our 24th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon! Can you tell us a bit about how you were introduced to YW Boston and what it is about our mission and work that resonates with you?
I was introduced to the YW Boston approximately 25 years ago through its Black Achievers program. This work actively engaged Black and other professionals of color in meaningful mentoring relationships with Boston youth to ensure their success. The YW’s mission and programs resonate with me because they provide a constructive forum for facilitating discussions regarding race and empower women and youth in Boston.
Throughout your career, you have been a thoughtful leader dedicated to advancing racial and gender equity in the workplace. Can you tell us more about your unique approach when tackling diversity, equity, and inclusion in different industries?
I have been fortunate to work for a couple of employers who have had diversity and inclusion as part of their core values. As a result, I have been able to be a champion for diversity in the legal profession and community. With my organization’s support and the support of my colleagues, we have been able to increase the number of in-house lawyers of color through partnering with various diverse bar associations and the creation of other networking opportunities to source talent. At Liberty Mutual, we were able to increase the number of outside lawyers of color and women who worked on Liberty Mutual matters by creating the Liberty Legal Academy, a two day program during which we taught them about our business, priorities, and values so they would be in a position to compete for and handle our legal matters.
According to The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Series on Race, Boston’s top 10 largest law firms collectively have more than 1,000 partners while only eight are black. What advice would you give young women of color navigating the legal field in Boston?
I would suggest that they leverage their networks, develop leadership skills through non-profit board work and take the long-view regarding relationships. Think nationally and globally—not just locally. In addition, seek mentors within and outside of your law firms and develop allies within your firm.
What opportunities do you think the legal and corporate communities have in creating environments that are more inclusive for their employees and their clients?
In order to compete for the best talent and innovate for the future, Companies must become leaders in diversity and inclusion. The data also suggests that the Companies with the most diverse Boards (women and people of color) are the most profitable. Finally, Liberty has been innovative with respect to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of its business by: sourcing and recruiting diverse talent, employee resource groups, Chief Diversity Officer, engagement by employees in communities where they live and work, focusing on the customer—every customer and the establishment of D & I as one oft is foundational business values to drive success.
You are a board member of a number of nonprofit and educational institutions in Boston. Do you have any advice for young women interested in joining a nonprofit board?
I recommend non-profit Board membership as a way to give back and advance those issues that you care about most in your community. Since this is an extra demand on your time, you should affiliate with a Board that is committed to a cause that you are interested in and is aligned with your personal values. In addition, non-profit board service provides professional development opportunities (skill enhancement) and an expansion of networks.
Lastly, the tag line of AWA is Unstoppable Women Changing Boston. Can you tell us about an unstoppable woman who has inspired you?
My mom was an unstoppable woman who inspired me. She passed away in March at the age of 89. She migrated from the south as a young woman with a high school education and took a job cleaning houses so she could start her life in the northeast. She was a smart, tenacious and sometimes sassy woman of faith who believed that an education was our key to success as people of color. Her mantra was that we had to get an education because once you learned something “no one could take it away from you.” As a result, I was wired to achieve as much academic success as I was capable of in order to make my dreams come true. In addition, she always told us to that we were indeed our sisters’ keeper. If we saw someone in need, we should not wait for someone to ask us for help but should voluntarily offer a helping hand. As a result, I have tried to remain open and not distracted by small stuff so I can “see a need and respond with an open heart.”
Catch Karen Morton at our Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.