In this third and final instalment of our week-long interview series for International Women’s Day, we are turning to the topic of allies. Over the course of this week we have been hearing words of wisdom from three leading women in Intellectual Property, who tell us “If I could say one thing…”.
Male allies play an essential role in the work towards a gender equal world – we are not going to achieve equality between the genders if only one gender is demanding it. We need male allies. A crucial part of the discussion around gender equality therefore must be how to include men in the conversation, and how can we harness the support and power of male allies.
We’ve asked our interviewees for the one thing they have to say to male allies. We thank the interviewees for their insightful and powerful answers. We hope that the below advice helps to engage you, whatever your gender, to work towards a more equal world.
Line Køhler Ljungdahl
Line Køhler Ljungdahl is Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and member of Bang & Olufsen’s Executive Management Board. As one of the most iconic audio-video brands, Bang & Olufsen recognise “equality and diversity are the basis of true innovation and an enabler of success”.
I think people spend too much time talking and coming up with their own perspectives instead of trying to understand other people's perspectives and then adding more value by building on these. I believe that collective knowledge will get you much further.
By listening you will also become much more aware of unconscious bias. In Denmark, we currently have a debate about unconscious biases in job adverts. When you read some of these, they can be very male-dominated, and this may be what is holding some women back from applying for such jobs. For example, if you say in a job advert that you want people to travel 100 days a year, this might put a lot of women off. If instead you just outline the job you want done, there may be another way of doing it which does not rule out certain groups. In the end, it is the result that matters and not how it is done. I would encourage my male – but also my female – colleagues to continue to think about that.
I believe everyone should obsess about nurturing the best talents. And talent doesn’t always look like yourself or have the same background as yourself. Having the best people – and people that bring different perspectives than you to the table – is often the best way to add value to your team and your business. Listen to those talents – and do what you can to help them realise their full potential.
Carolyn Herzog is EVP, General Counsel at Arm. Arm is committed to connecting its employees with the positive change they create for people, communities and the environment. Carolyn has taken leadership roles in women’s rights advocacy throughout her career.
I want to say two things. First – thank you. You did more than you know, and I doubt that you are fully aware of what you did for me. I am forever grateful because I have achieved more than I ever thought that I could because of how you challenged and encouraged me. Second – now that I am aware of this, I can say with confidence in looking around me that it is clearly not enough. You did it for me, perhaps because you saw potential that I did not. But what are you doing for the invisible woman who didn’t ask, who is perhaps more introverted and just doing her work? We are now aware that women require more touch points than men because we do not ask. We do not ask for equal pay or for the promotion and we are left behind if you do not do what you did for me. Are you asking other men to do what you did and more? Because the situation is not yet equal. Are you challenging the women who aren’t lifting other women up? We still don’t have enough women represented at the middle, nor the top and we do not have enough women in under-represented areas such as IP. Are you satisfied with that? I am not. What about the women of colour? We have to ask the hard questions now – can we do that together? You have allowed me to ask some challenging questions along the way – and you have made that comfortable for me, for the most part. Thank you, again. Are you ready to step forward even further and challenge your peers and the next generation? I think we can do this, together.
Kalpana Srinivasan is an IP litigation lawyer and Co-Managing Partner at Susman Godfrey. In 2020 Kalpana was named in the Top 100 Lawyers in America and the Top 10 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation. Susman Godfrey is fiercely committed to growing and maintaining diversity, the firm has a Racial Justice working group which is “dedicated to improving diversity within the firm and advocating for racial justice in our community.”
I appreciate that a lot of men have become cognisant of the importance of diversifying their teams and workspaces. But it is important not to stop there. We can’t lose sight of preparing women to go to the next level by giving them a chance to be seen in important roles.
Think about where you see women in your team in the next 5 or 10 years, and what you could be doing to help them get there. Look for meaningful opportunities for women that you work with to demonstrate their skill, to have something significant for which they are responsible. It’s more than just saying “I’m going to bring you on board”; you are putting in place the stepping stones for them which will allow them to one day have their own team and their own clients.
In our profession women make up 50% of law school graduates, which is great, yet we still have small percentages in GC roles, partnerships and management. We need to think about how we translate the enthusiasm and interest in diversifying teams into supporting women in long term development and allowing them to advance.
In the previous instalments of this series we have explored “If I could say one thing to my younger self at the start of my career” and "If I could say one thing to women in a male-dominated profession".
We thank Emily Collins for this interview series with such an impressive group of women for International Women’s Day, as well as Amy Auger and Erin Turner for their help in interviewing and editing the series. Of course, we thank each of the amazing women we have interviewed for giving their time to help others to benefit from their wisdom.
Emily’s own passion for Inclusion & Diversity, equality and mental health has enriched our website many a times, see below.
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