INTERVIEW: Inclusive leadership with Tuvia Borok

Contributed by
Tuvia Borok
18 May 2020

Tuvia Borok is an Executive Director & Senior Counsel in the Legal Division of Goldman Sachs where he heads the Structured Finance legal team in EMEA. He currently acts as Secretary to the Firm’s Sharia’a Supervisory Board and is Firmwide Sponsor of the Make Things Possible Pride Academy for LGBT+ talent. Tuvia previously chaired the EMEA Pro Bono Legal Committee for a number of years. Tuvia is a LLM/MBA lecturer at Osgoode Hall Law School, and in 2018, took up a leadership fellowship at Windsor Castle. Tuvia is also co-founder & CEO of The P3 Network. P3 is a UK based not-for-profit that provides support, advice, advocacy and role models for non-traditional and LGBT+ families.

Last October you won the In-House ‘LGBT+ Lawyer of the Year’ award at the inaugural Chambers D&I Awards: Europe. Why is it important to recognise firms and individuals, not just for their legal skills, but for their efforts to make the profession more diverse and inclusive?

For me, it’s simple. One – legal skills require the ability to interpret the law, regulation and, for transactional work, legal structuring options; two – interpretation requires a perspective; and three – through diversity we see diverse perspectives. So, diverse people lead to diverse perspectives, which in turn leads to the ability to approach a problem from all angles to ultimately find the right solution, or at least present different alternatives to a problem. Recognition of those individuals and firms that drive for the inclusion of diversity doesn’t just make good business sense, but ultimately it showcases good legal risk management. Through that lens, how could recognising strong D&I players not be the right thing to do? As for the profession, the greater the ability of firms to support inclusion of authenticity in the workplace, the more productive, the more driven and the happier members of our profession will be. People being happy is never a bad thing.

You won that award for your work on the Goldman Sachs Legal Insight Programme and the P3 Network. How have those programmes developed since then and what plans do you have for the future?

The Goldman Sachs Legal Insight Programme was a pilot. I am pleased to report that following the success of the pilot, the firm launched The Make Things Possible Pride Academy, a first-of-its-kind LGBT+ internship into investment banking across a host of different divisions, including the legal division. That is really powerful messaging to the next generation of LGBT+ professionals that they are welcomed for their skills, and that bringing their authentic selves to work is not something to shy away from. In respect of P3, we have seen an increase in dedicated in-house programming. We are currently finalising plans for events in two European cities. I’m very excited about the growth plans for P3.

You are a leader in a number of different ways – you lead the Structured Finance and Securitisation legal team at Goldman Sachs, you’re the CEO of P3 and you’re a single father. What are the key traits of inclusive leaders?

I’d like to first comment on leadership generally. Leadership comes down to being human. There are so many books that talk to vulnerability being at the forefront of good leadership. For me, if the pandemic has shown anything, it is that being relatable and human is the key. It builds trust and rapport and means that teams are more prepared to come along the journey with you because they feel engaged, and in turn are more committed. Once you have that, you can create a space that nurtures and values inclusion, because teams are more trusting to be able to express their true selves, to own their own narrative, and to feel that they can express diversity of thought. I invite people to create that kind of environment and to see the amazing results that will be fostered.

If you could encourage companies to make one change to move the dial on D&I, what would it be?

It is important to not lose sight of the fact that people are diverse for multiple reasons; that it is not about a single diversity strand. Accepting the notion of multi-faceted diversity will help facilitate an environment which hinders pigeon holing people into one diversity category over another and the stereotyping that can unnecessarily follow as a result. My TEDx Talk spoke to this. You can watch it here:

If I were to summarise one practical step, it’s do not make presumptions about people in the diversity context. What I mean is, I am LGBT+, but when I think about the support I need to be included, it has not to do with my sexuality, but rather with the fact I’m a single parent. So, I would strongly suggest managers and leaders are encouraged to ask questions and listen more, to better understand what their people need to feel included. It’s all too easy to assume, but then efforts will have a lot less impact.

In the current global crisis, leaders have to make tough decisions every day. What advice do you have for those who want to keep D&I at the forefront of their business?

Remember that diversity is a statement of fact: people are diverse. And the practice of law is a people business – by people for people. So, a strong, committed and engaged workforce could help businesses stay better connected with their clients, and support a trusted advisor relationship that the market particularly needs during new, uncertain times. And as I discussed earlier, new challenging times require an even greater diversity of thought to achieve creative solutions and the right result for clients. No one should be turning their backs on D&I at this time; it is more important than ever.

If I think about tips for other in-house counsel, don’t lose sight of the progress that was starting pre-COVID-19 with holding law firms accountable and asking questions about law firm diversity practices, metrics and ambitions. I think now more than ever is a prime time when in-house teams and their external counsel can come together to work on projects to drive inclusion in the industry. Not only is it good for the profession but think about the team building that’ll be achieved and business relationships that will be strengthened!

You can find out more about Tuvia and his approach to inclusive leadership by reading his in-depth Forbes interview, here.