When our biggest challenge is ourselves

By Carol Hall
March 7, 2010

Carol  Hall-Carol Hall is a partner and new Head of Walkers’ Investment Funds Group in Hong Kong where she specializes in hedge funds and private equity funds and advises on general corporate matters. The opinions expressed are her own.The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–-

Seeing women succeed in management positions is uplifting and empowering. But I think it is fair to say that the challenges women face in the workplace depend very much on the profession. There are certainly some professions that view women and men as equals at all levels, but some professions present more of an obstacle to women. As a general rule, women are still underrepresented in the senior management level of most professions, particularly related to finance.

In my view, one of the biggest challenges that women still face in the workplace, regardless of their industry, is themselves.  We think we have to be the Superwoman – the high-flyer at work, the super Mom, the darling daughter, all things to all people. We try to participate in the classroom. We bake the cookies for bake sales. We help out at scout meetings. In short, we try to do everything. It’s likely we’ve all been guilty of trying to do everything at one time or another.

An important key to our success is to realise it is not possible to do everything and do it well. We need to plan, prioritise and set realistic expectations as to what we can do. We also need to realise that as more women succeed and gain prominence in business, there will be more pressure on women to do it all.

In the global financial and legal industries there is an expectation of long hours and extensive commitment. There is a struggle for power and an expectation to win – all the time. But that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice a work-life balance.

Personally, I’ve benefitted from working at a firm that highly values diversity of gender and ethnicity within its management.  There is a real camaraderie on the local level and on the global level which makes for a great working environment.

The firm is very business orientated and there is a strong commitment to delivering a high quality work product and to developing our various practice groups to meet the challenges of an ever changing business landscape.

Walkers is a progressive, dynamic, forward-thinking law firm that recognises and rewards ability. Approximately 35% of Walkers’ partners are women, and I believe that number will continue to grow.

International Women’s Day is a great way to stop and celebrate the strides that women have made. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to stop and appreciate success achieved by our mothers, sisters and daughters across the world. But we must also remember the challenges women in other cultures and societies face as we honour women who have helped us get this far.

Carol is a partner and new Head of Walkers’ Investment Funds Group in Hong Kong where she specializes in hedge funds and private equity funds and advises on general corporate matters.

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