As the publicity surrounding Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In rightfully steers the conversation to the obstacles of women in leadership, the time couldn’t be better to bring up something that’s been bothering me. Over the past year, I’ve made a significant professional change—resulting in my hiatus from this blog as I catch my breath. As with any position, settling into a new firm has been full of adjustments, but one change has been the most striking to me: I’m becoming a better professional now having a successful female in a leadership position above me. Something that bothers me? This seems to be an anomaly for many young professionals at similar stages in their careers.
I came across two articles the other day that worry me: 1.) The most recent wage gap statistics, which are back to 2005 levels. Ladies, this should keep us up at night. And 2.) An article about “Queen Bee Sydrome,” when the most successful women distance themselves from other females and refuse to help them rise through the ranks.
And we wonder why so few of us sit in Fortune 500 C-suites.
That said, within the legal marketing industry (emphasis on “marketing”), I see positive change on a regular basis. A quick, awesome example: During the LMASE mini-conference in Charlotte, I cornered Erin Corbin Mezaros to let her know that even though she may not remember me, I certainly remember her. During my first 7 months in legal marketing, I found out I was expecting, and at my first LMA Annual Convention, she told me a few extremely comforting anecdotes about accepting her CMO position with a bun in the oven. Here’s what’s most impressive: during the same mini-conference, another colleague of mine (same age as I) pulled Erin aside to thank her for similar advice. She had offered her guidance that she’ll never forget. That’s an amazing professional.
This is a call to action to those of us with the energy and power to change the workplace as we take on bigger roles. Let’s participate in this discussion and set a plan of action for our respective workplaces. Most importantly, look at yourself and your network as you consider your career trajectory. If you aren’t smart women to your professional circle, both younger and more senior, then don’t complain about the salary gap. We can change it for our daughters. That’s my $.02 on what we as young professional women can do in addition to “leaning in.”
What else can professional women to secure more roles in leadership?