For Women in Law By Women in Law

Women are an opportunity, not a charity.

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I love feisty, meaningful articles that provoke emotion and I don’t shy away from a word of exclamation (as an aside, consider this a trigger-warning for those of you that shy from colourful language). Although an expletive, when used as an exclamation “fuck” expresses annoyance, contempt and impatience. In reality, it is a wonderful catch-all conveniently applicable to a host of situations and emotions. Jesse Draper, venture capitalist and gender equality advocate, really brings the use of the word home in her recent article “Investing In Women Isn’t a Fucking Charity” published on medium.com.

Jesse begins her article this way: “It’s a smart, strategic business move, and more urgent than ever to invest in women”. I agree with her and although her focus is on business, she broadly describes the need to invest in women in professions and industries across the board.

I have to confess that historically, and embarrassingly, throughout my career I probably kept my head in the sand. I have had some, and still face, challenges practicing law and being a female leader but I am a very strong advocate for myself and realize now that I have had a pretty easy go of it compared to others. That realization has really come to roost for me over the last few years with a growing sense of responsibility to the younger generation of women who will no doubt be the kind of leaders Jesse Draper writes about. The more I educate myself and advocate for women through our Life in Law platform and as a mentor and a leader in my firm, the more committed I am to this responsibility.

In the article, definitely worth a read, Draper notes that women continue to persevere and lead despite the most challenging of circumstances. What a powerful statement. We continue to stand strong and move forward despite the efforts to restrict or restrain us. Whether you are subject to sexual harassment or you channel Ruth Bader Ginsburg and fight for equality and women’s rights — we maintain our hold. We put our heads down and move forward despite the obstacles.

We need to continue to work to shift the paradigm. Why should we have to work harder than men to succeed? As women, we need to engage men in the conversation and encourage them to recognize and commit to a change that benefits everyone. As senior women in the practice of law, we need to be a rock for the younger generation. We need to open our doors and champion them. We need young people at the table in management and on the committees that matter in our firms. We need to teach them that they can advocate for themselves and they deserve a place at the table.

As Jesse Draper says, “Invest in women. We’re not a fucking charity.  We’re a $3 Trillion opportunity.”

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