Tonight, a dream came true. A vision took form.
The Association of Corporate Counsel (the organization for in-house attorneys with about 40,000 members worldwide) launched their global initiative supporting women attorneys.
It all started with one question “Does the ACC offer programming for women?” The answer was no, but we should. And two years later, here we are. In the brilliant hands of Jennifer Chen, the Director of the ACC Foundation, this program has not only been put in place, it has grown wings.
It took a cadre of amazing ACC attorneys (Tracy Stanton, Jennifer Mailander, Katia Bloom, and many others) along with the ACC (Veta Richardson, Tori Payne, and also many others) to share the vision and take actionable steps to make it happen. Last October, we did a soft launch of WITH at the ACC Annual Meeting, where we held a breakfast with inspiring, accomplished women attorneys. We did surveys, wrote articles, developed toolkits, and spread the word.
That word resulted in honoring three women tonight who have truly forged the path and had a vision and a plan long before us: Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO; Gloria Santona, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, McDonald’s Corporation; and Charisse R. Lillie, Fellow and Vice President of Community Investment
Comcast Corporation, Executive Vice President, Comcast Foundation. The fabulous Sunny Hostin, Senior Legal Correspondent & Analyst, ABC News led the discussion, which touched on many key points – mentoring and having a sponsor for one’s career, situations in which they noted “this is what it means to be a woman in the legal field,” salary, plans, and advice. They held the room enthralled – about 200 attendees all nodded their heads in agreement and there were more than a few “yeah. Yeah!” heard around the room.
And this was after David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change inspired the room with his talk on the 17 goals in the 2030 Agenda – and how many are related to the empowerment of women. Knowing that 193 countries are committed to seeing women empowered is simply incredible.
And the room was not just women. There were many men present as well – as it should be. Men are a critical component if women are to “live under the sky” (as opposed to breaking the glass ceiling in a few spots here and there).
We all hope to see this field equalized and celebrate the difference that women make. One thing Irina said really resonated with the audience. When a woman reaches a certain position or role, there are high expectations – people are watching. She must do an exceptional job and far surpass expectations. Yet men in the same role are only expected to do the job. They don’t need to surpass expectations, no one is “watching.” At some point, we – as women – want to be average. Let us simply do the job. Because we can. But it is really hard to always exceed expectations that are only set for one half of the profession. Hitting a metric that should not exist is simply unreasonable.
We are excited about our next steps. And we welcome you to the effort. We have a huge initiative in place with Diversity Lab and the onRamp Fellowships. Caren Ulrich Stacy, the founder, is truly a giant among giants (I think I fell a little in love with her). Five corporate powers have signed on to her program to help women re-enter the legal workforce.
You know you want to be WITH us. Feel free to contact me or the ACC Foundation to learn more. http://www.acc-foundation.com/