The gender gap – what ambitious female in-housers can do to push their career on
A recent article in Legal Week highlighted a book that has been written in the US by two senior female GC’s. The article begins with highlighting that 101 women currently hold the title of GC across the largest US corporates although 80% of Fortune 500 GC roles are still held by men.
Is there a secret formula that can help women rise to the top? The book that has been produced is called ‘Courageous Counsel’ and ‘courage’ is the first attribute that the authors found was required – not shying away from challenges was a key ingredient to success, networking was also seen as crucial and in particular the use of mentors.
Louise Pentland, chief legal counsel for Nokia commented that what she learned “is that what you do matters, but that you also need your network. The days when only ability is counted are over”. Continuing she advocates the use of mentors and asks you to question: “Who can you learn from?”
Amilha Young, a senior legal counsel with Standard Chartered Bank states that for her “what resonates is the drive that is required and the understanding of the business as well as having the courage to keep moving and not to just sit back”.
It was also clear from the article that having someone interested in your success was key, as well as the need to keep on networking and development of your ‘brand’.
Having said all of the above if you are not in the right company/ environment for you it doesn’t matter what you do – if the people you work with don’t care about you progressing isn’t going to happen.
Reading the article and pondering on the ‘Top tips for women climbing the general counsel ladder’ which include:
1. Find role models or mentors
2. Don’t shy away from challenges
3. Network, network, network
4. Understand the business
5. Choose an organisation where the culture fits your values
6. Check you are in a place where your managers care about developing you career
7. Identify your strengths and weaknesses (and work on your weaknesses)
8. Always do your best
…..it left me thinking… is this really specific to gender as all of the above applies to any lawyer looking to develop their career to GC level!