Lead from a Place of Integrity

Thank you to Profiles in Diversity Journal for honoring me with this award. I am truly grateful for this recognition, particularly during these tumultuous times, which continually present leaders with novel issues. Unexpectedly having to pivot our company to a fully remote working environment for over two years and now transitioning to a hybrid workplace has been one of the biggest challenges of my 20-year career. Prior to the pandemic, workplace expectations were certainly more rigid. People were generally expected to be in the office every day. Personal obligations were not always viewed as a priority and flexible schedules were perceived as an accommodation.

As a young attorney and mother, working my way up the ranks in a predominantly male-dominated profession, I constantly felt like I was being pulled in too many directions, juggling work and children, among so many other things. Even though I was fully committed and excelling at work, I felt guilty for having to tend to personal obligations.

Early in my career, with the guidance of a senior colleague and mentor, I decided I would lead differently. I began with small things, such as not imposing unnecessary deadlines and setting unrealistic expectations. I quickly realized that being transparent, genuine, and respectful, while holding myself and my colleagues accountable, began to cultivate strong relationships and build loyalty among my team members. These core values formed the basis of my leadership style that I have continued to refine throughout my career.

Remote work during the pandemic, however, presented business leaders with many complex issues and no real precedent to help guide the way. Struggling with conflicting valid opinions for and against working remotely, we ultimately decided to institute a hybrid model once we could safely bring our employees back to the office. But what that meant, none of us really knew. I relied and continue to rely on my instincts and core leadership values to navigate through these unchartered waters. Before implementing a return to office plan, it was important to talk to colleagues and learn about their individual circumstances. However, there were so many perspectives and it became clear that there was no single solution that fit everyone’s needs. At the end of the day, schedule flexibility, workplace culture, and career growth were common themes in many of the discussions.

We tried to formulate a return-to-office plan that prioritized those themes and fostered an inclusive work environment that would provide development and growth, motivate, and retain talented employees. While that plan is still in its early stages, I am confident that leading from a place of integrity and understanding throughout these tough times will help us reassess and refine this hybrid plan, as we learn more through experience.