Read on for the key discussions that took place at the IFLR Asia Women in Business Law Forum as follow:
Navigating work-life balance in your career
You can be flexible by leaving work early but should at the same time be willing to put in extra hours on weekends. As an employer, you should understand what issues your employees are facing and offer hem the flexibility to take time off to deal with emergencies or specific family issues.
Engage in pro bono work even though it is a short-term task, but when delegating work to your subordinates you should understand that they can’t take on your work just because you want work-life balance. You should instead give it some time to prove to them that it won’t affect them.
When be asked to make conference calls at midnight, you should first think whether you will be contributing to a call and try, if possible, to re-schedule it for a later time. A lot of the time people will try to accommodate, but sometimes people are too afraid to ask.
You need a support system both inside and outside your workplace, and don’t see yourself as a superhuman being and do everything on your own. You can’t please everyone and sometimes you might get unkind comments but let people know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
Promoting diversity and inclusion in senior management
As you move up to a senior partner position, encourage your juniors to speak up at meetings and to attend networking events.
If you don’t have male champions in your organization, you should try to find out who is easier to talk to in the company and who you get along with and build your network from there.
You need a structural reform to increase and to set the quota for the employment of female staff in a company. Such a reform could also help orient internal assessment towards the basis of meritocracy, as opposed to gender, and thereby shaping how staff are rewarded and incentivised.
There is too much emphasis on billable hours in Hong Kong and the city’s corporates need to set a quota for the recruitment of female staff, and this is something that needs to be worked on.
Mapping your path to partnership and the boardroom
By holding a board position, it enhances your reputation and but you have to ask for a board directorship. It is important to keep in mind the three main aspects of building one’s profile and they are performance, image and exposure.
In order to enhance your personal image, you should pay attention to the corporate dress code and to enhance self-promotion.
Self-promotion is intertwined with value and it helps expand your network. When there is a gap, you fill it. Make full use of your past experience, such as human rights and pro bono.
Get yourself off a board if you have detected that something is wrong as your own persona brand or reputation is worth a lot more.
Building your own personal brand
It is other people’s comments that define your personal brands and it’s important to know how you can shape others’ perception of you, and capitalise on your brands.
Online branding is a good thing but the starting point for a mentee is to find their spokespeople and to build that up. An in-house, external network is just as important and, by building up your company’s brand, you are also building your own brand.
The first step is to think about your passion and value, as well as things that define who you are as a person and look for mentors who can give you guidance.
There is the expectation that at least a couple people know you as a candidate for a job, but it is important to step outside your comfort zone and to turn external networking into internal networking.
Making the most out of mentoring in your organization
You can take advantage of short-term opportunities to mentor individuals when you can and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a long, sustained relationship, for example by giving them recognition for their work.
Be in search of female role models and take their traits and learn from them, as they think differently from you and therefore can provide you with different perspectives, thereby giving you a push.
Be open and communicate by setting your expectations with your mentor. While it is up to the protégé to catch up, when you find your mentor, you have to open yourself up and be honest about your goals.
Build a relationship with informal mentors and this personal bond could turn into sponsorship. It is an organic change from a mentor to a sponsor. Establish that bond and be successful and that reflects well on the sponsor.
There are things you should not talk about with your mentor, such as promotion, salary. You are advised to set guidelines and formalities with your mentor in advance.