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If I’ve learned one thing from 20 years as a woman in business, it’s this…

Jenna Lauer
Managing Partner, LA
Hall & Partners

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In the build-up to International Women’s Day, I got to thinking how the business landscape has changed.

And where Hall & Partners, the company I work at, sits within that landscape. This question is easy, Hall & Partners defines the ultimate landscape. It defines the ideal culture for women and working moms.

I remember the day I was first approached by Hall & Partners like it was yesterday. I was sitting at my old-fashioned oak desk, wearing a suit and high heels – probably being judged that my suit was too masculine, or maybe too feminine, or that I should be wearing pantyhose… I could never get it right. Or so I thought, pretending to fit in as one of the few female executives at a large corporate financial services company. I had spent about five years at this company trying to fit in to a culture that wasn’t me, would never be me, and should never be me.

The phone rang and it was one of my partners from Hall & Partners (I was a client). This partner went on to tell me about the opening at Hall & Partners to run the LA office. When I let her know I wasn’t interested in such a position, she proceeded to say, “I told our Global CEO about you and she would like to meet you.” I responded, “your Global CEO is a SHE!” I told her I would have coffee with any female CEO. She had me at “she.”


Now it’s acceptable, almost trendy, to talk about a woman’s place in the workforce


I joined Hall & Partners as the leader of the LA office three months later, in early 2013, and every Managing Partner in the company was female. This was everything to me at the time. I still value our diversity across the business. Hall & Partners values diversity. We’re proud of our culture and we continue to nurture it. “She,” who is still our Global CEO, had it right and still gets it right. She sets the tone and embraces the wonderful differences across the team. Everyone gets a voice. Everyone gets a seat at the table. We’re all different; therefore, we have different ideas. All those different ideas ladder up to better ideas and creative output for our company and our clients.

Being aware of and nurturing your culture and environment are the change in the business landscape. Hall & Partners was just ahead of the game. But now it’s acceptable, almost trendy, to talk about a woman’s place in the workforce. Let's hope there's a growing trend to do something about it. It’s not really #metoo; rather, #obviouslymetoo.

All professional women have overcome obstacles in their careers. All women have seen poor behavior from men in the workplace, some worse than others. But now we have dialog to help fix the divide. You don’t have to work for a female CEO to have this conversation. Women are now empowered (I hope) to have these much-needed discussions… to be the change agents. Let’s take the reins ladies!

It took me almost 20 years in my career to fully understand that the most important part of my career is company culture. That being “you” at work is the only way to be the best you. Nobody should tell you to dress more masculine, or that your fabulous glitter high heels are too girly. Bring on the girly! Bring on the sass, attitude, mad smarts, creativity, and total genius that females add to all executive boards and cultures. We don’t need more facts telling us a diverse team is a stronger team (duh). We need action. And always bring the glitter!

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