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| 2 minutes read

How open should we be?!

This was a question we asked ourselves when preparing for a panel session about women in leadership. 

Our answer was that we answer people's questions openly, from our own experiences and be true to ourselves. 

By way of context, we held an internal event ‘Women in leadership’, which almost a third of the firm attended. 

The topic was inspired by this year's International Women's Day theme. We invited people to submit questions anonymously beforehand and they didn't hold back!  This is exactly what we wanted. We wanted to give people a safe place to ask everything and anything about being a woman in leadership and hear thoughts from the panel. 

The panel - Angela Skuce, Ramjeet Kandola and Victoria Jardine - kindly offered to answer anything, along with me too. Between us, we span leaders in a partnership sense and the central management team, mothers and women without children, some of us in male-dominated areas of work and some not, lawyers and non-lawyers, and a range of different personal backgrounds. 

As I said, almost one-third of the whole firm came to the session, which was brilliant. Some were there because they are thinking about taking their career into a senior role; some are leaders already and reflecting on how that’s going; some wanted to get an insight into what it’s like for women around them; some wanted to be allies; others wanted to know whether the leadership of the firm is representative; and no doubt many other reasons.  

From the outset, we really wanted to stress that being a leader isn’t restricted to being a partner or the head of a team. We can be leaders in lots of other ways. And on top of that, being a leader isn’t the badge of success. There are people I know who don’t have a title but they’re absolutely at the top of their game and command enormous respect. We need to recognise the leaders amongst us who naturally lead people in quiet ways.

We all need a safe space to ask questions about leadership. That might be challenging whether our leaders are representative or asking how we can become the leaders of tomorrow. 

As food for thought, here's a snippet of the questions we answered today (paraphrased to respect the anonymity with which they were posed):

  • Is there a stigma about getting pregnant? As though people think you don't take your career seriously?
  • As women in leadership, what are YOU doing to encourage and empower other women to become leaders too?
  • Has the stereotype that women are more emotional affected your behaviour in the workplace? 
  • How do you ‘claim your place at the table’ if male colleagues speak louder and for longer?

I'd encourage all organisations to put on a session like this. 

It really, really matters for people and for business. 


gender, ed&i, equity, women in business, women in leadership, international womens day, equality