Yesterday, we had an uplifting, candid, and honest conversation with legal leaders centered on building inclusivity in the workspace. Moderated by our very own Melissa La Forest, we were joined by Darya Pollack (AGC, Compass), Jessica Villanella (Co-GC New York Mets), and Viviane Windmiller (Sr. Director of Legal, Illumina). Here’s what we learned.
1. Do your research
Let’s be honest. We all know law school doesn’t exactly prepare you for your first legal position. The knowledge you gain at a law firm is important before you go in-house. It teaches you the foundation of practicing and helps you learn the business. It’s easy to jump at the first opportunity you get right out of law school. Take time to find an organization that aligns with your values, and meets your goals for where you want to be both now, and in the future.
2. Being a woman in law is not a limitation
Or a hindrance, or a barrier, or a setback. The dialogue has completely shifted over the past decade. We’re seeing more women in senior-level, executive positions than ever before. We’re seeing more moms in these roles. Aim to work in a forward-thinking company that fosters equity, empowerment, and most importantly—flexibility.
3. Allyship starts with open dialogue
Look to lead in, or work for a company that is ready to have those tough conversations. If you’re a leader, speak openly about life outside of work and encourage others to do the same. Learn the limitations of your employees, and be ready to step in when necessary.
4. Uplift & empower those around you
Lead and manage with empathy. As a leader, look to understand the career goals of those below you and do what you can to support that growth. Understand your values as a leader and how they fit within the organization. Champion transparency and inclusivity at every step of the way. A happy and well-supported team will optimize functionality across not only your team but the organization as a whole.
5. Find strength in community
There’s strength in numbers. Going in-house can be tough, and learning the ropes takes time. The great news is that there are so many communities out there that offer both valuable resources and mentorship—however broad or niche you like to go.