From One Lawyer to Another
December 7, 2022
Reading time: 2 minutes
When I started my legal career, my goal was to be a criminal prosecutor. That goal was not to be realized because the First Assistant DA at the time told me I looked too young and he didn’t believe I was tough enough. In other words, I was female. For most of my career, I have encountered those kinds of roadblocks. While most of the roadblocks were not that blatant, they were still there.
I am privileged to work for a company that hired me, a woman, to lead a start-up. That has not traditionally been a female role. I believe they looked beyond my gender and saw my ability. Isn’t that what most of us hope for – to have our abilities seen? And to not have the stereotypes about our gender, race, national origin, etc. hold us back.
I am further privileged because I was asked to lead our women’s initiative four years ago. It has been an exciting and challenging opportunity to make a real difference for women. More recently I asked to participate in our D&I initiative. I still have a lot to learn about how to make our D&I initiative more impactful but the training I have had has changed my thinking in a significant way. The most important thing I have learned is how much I still have to learn.
I have learned that some things I might say, while intended as compliments, could be perceived as insulting to people of color. I have learned that it is important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable when having discussions about race. I have learned that I must have more discussions about race with POC. I have learned that younger women entering the workforce still have some of the same disappointment when looking at what they can achieve as I did more than 30 years ago. I have learned that people hire people who act and look like them unless they get intentional about doing otherwise. I have learned that I must speak up and be an ally for those who cannot always speak up for themselves. And I have learned I have a lot yet to learn.
To me these issues at their heart are about compassion. If we cannot feel compassion for those who feel marginalized, we might have failed as human beings. I am trying to start with compassion, follow that with listening and learning, and then try to turn what I have learned into action. I hope we have added to your learning process in a positive way.
Sally Field is an attorney of 30 years and former President of Attorney Protective, as well as a Bobby Flay wannabe.
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