On October 3, 2018, the Tyson & Mendes Women’s Initiative partnered with the San Diego Lawyer’s Club (SDLC) to host a wonderful and thought-provoking event, inviting discussion and action to promote women in the legal industry. The event was designed to build on “The Ask, Part I,” hosted earlier in the year by the SDLC. The Ask, Part II was held at the La Jolla Country Club with over 100 professionals in attendance. The evening began with a check-in and a half-hour of networking. Members of the Lawyer’s Club and Tyson & Mendes employees mingled over wine and appetizers on the club’s patio, overlooking the beautiful La Jolla Cove.
The event continued inside with a panel discussion moderated by Tyson & Mendes attorney Mia Kelly. The panel featured three prominent guests: Rebecca Green of Wawanesa Insurance, Beth Obra-White of Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP, and Susie Quagliato of AIG’s Private Client Group. Mia asked various questions of the panel members who responded with their thoughts. Attendees were then invited to break off and continue the discussion amongst the individual tables, and then share additional thoughts with the group.
What Are The Main Factors Holding Women Back From Self-Advocating?
This first question was posed to Rebecca Green. In Rebecca’s experience, women hold themselves back from advocating to their full potential due to a variety of factors. These can be both from the pressure experienced by women to have a family and maintain a household while simultaneously advancing their careers, and from self-imposed expectations that they won’t be able to do it all. According to one attendee, another major factor is fear. Women tend to naturally experience more hesitations and lower self-confidence than their male counterparts when it comes to promoting themselves by asking for raises and promotions. Awareness is one key to combatting this. The panel members shared some fascinating statistics from the research being done in the discrepancies between women and male promotions.
How Have You Advocated For Yourself In Your Own Career?
Susie Quagliato shared some great tips on self-advocacy in the workplace. These are applicable across industry lines. Keeping a running personal list of one’s own achievements at work is of course a key to being well-prepared for walking into a performance review or a salary negotiation. But as far as a practical way to do this, employees are often at a loss. Susie mentioned she has kept a folder entitled “Susie Rocks.” It’s an easy place to store everything from records of big results, to small emails acknowledging small actions that made a difference in the goal of the firm/client/company, etc. Others have suggested keeping spreadsheets to track results or updating a list once a month. Things like this can be a source to turn to whenever one needs a quick confidence boost or a list of hard evidence as to why that promotion is well-deserved.
Are Women’s Communication Styles Different Than Their Male Counterparts?
Beth Obra-White shared some fascinating details from various sources about the stark differences in communication styles between men and women at work. While one might assume that one sex is better than the other, the research has shown that women and men have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, women tend to be more emotional, but are also more empathetic and stronger at reading body language and non-verbal cues. Men are more assertive, but weaker at picking up nonverbal cues and on listening as attentively. These are broad generalizations, but awareness can help both women and men use their strengths and weaknesses to their advantage.
Finding Support in Allies
The panel discussion concluded by inviting the panelists and members of the audience to share strategies, tips and tools to help with self-promotion going forward. There was a general agreement that acknowledging individual accomplishments, no matter how small, should be a common and consistent practice. It is important for women to especially acknowledge and support each other in every small win. Another suggestion made is to find someone to hold you accountable for your goals. Banding with one or two other trusted allies in your field and committing to meet once or twice a month is a good start.
Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, attendees participated in a networking happy hour on the golf course. This provided a fun opportunity to reflect over the panel, exchange information and even form some “advocacy support” groups for future networking sessions. Overall, the Ask Part II was a memorable and uplifting event that cultivated support and camaraderie among women.