Women are doing it for themselves: Each generation is striving for equity and inclusion at work

Among my constellation of mentors, the women I look too, both within and outside of the legal profession, have advocated for me and pushed me when I needed it most. Gender equity in the workplace has been, and will continue to be, a pervasive issue. The women I am lucky enough to call mentors inspire me to keep focused and hopeful that equity and inclusion are achievable goals. Their individual paths may be different, but their collective commitment to leave things better than how they found it is a call to continue fighting.

To that end, relationships between women across generational divides are so important to ensuring our continued progress towards equal pay and representation in leadership. Mentorship and sponsorship are words often used with great intentions, but without enough direction. I also think they are misunderstood to be a one-way street when, in reality, regardless of years of experience, we all have a lot to learn from one another.

Younger generations of women are often frustrated by incremental change that is slow and winding, but I think that frustration is itself validation that the women blazing the trail have made incredible progress over the course of their careers. That younger generations of women feel empowered to keep asking for more and demanding it faster is only possible because the women they look up to as mentors were often the “firsts” breaking down barriers across identities.

And just as junior women can learn from their more senior women mentors, women with years of experience have an opportunity to feel emboldened and inspired by the impact their efforts have had on the up-and-coming generation of women. Rather than be confronted by the expectations of the newest members to our profession, we have the chance to be challenged again to rethink what it means to bring your full authentic self to work and thrive in a profession that all too often rewards conformity.

Through working together and embracing a multi-generational movement, we will truly find our strides towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce. We have to understand how far we’ve come with deep respect and reverence in order to effectively continue to push the pace of change faster and more holistically.