Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells

Monday, October 24, 2011

Conversation with Albright Begins Summit

Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and, at the time, the highest ranking female in the history of U.S. government, opened the Hogan Lovells Women's Executive Summit on Monday night, bringing attendees on an extraordinary international trip through her groundbreaking career and providing advice and perspective on issues facing every business and executive today.

Institutional discrimination of decades ago, she said, either made achieving a career difficult or kept her out of certain professions -- she had originally wanted to be a journalist -- altogether. "I think every woman's middle name is guilt," said Albright. "If you're going to school, you feel like you should be working. But if you're working, you feel like you should be with your family."

(Read more quotes from Sec. Albright here.)

The summit is not only about women's issues -- it also addresses contemporary business and political trends as well. Albright's commentary, which ranged from institutional discrimination to foreign affairs and gender and business, reflected that.

She described her first experience in front of the United Nations as having an eye opening “eureka” moment. Since the vast majority of diplomats were men, she realized that not fully contributing to the dialogue -- sometimes forcefully -- would effectively dampen the representation of the entire country. If she did not speak, the U.S. would not have a voice.

Internationally, multilateralism is a critical concern today, and media such as Wikileaks and, more generally, the 24-hour news cycle contribute to a widespread erosion of trust in institutions.

Christian Introduces Summit

Before the Albright discussion, Claudette Christian, Co-Chair of the Board at Hogan Lovells, gave a brief introduction about the summit. (Background: Read a question-and-answer segment Christian did with a Forbes columnist here.)

Christian shared that Hogan, the fifth-largest law firm in the world, employs more than 1,100 female attorneys -- or roughly a 44 percent ratio of female attorneys to male attorneys.

"Women matter at Hogan Lovells," said Christian. "Here, women are office managing partners, heads of practice groups, and high-profile rainmakers [...] Many of our clients are also women. You are presidents, CEOs, managing directors, general counsels, leading journalists."

Industry data on the average female-to-male attorney ratio at law firms isn't immediately apparent.

Tomorrow, a full slate of panels will explore women and today's business environment more thoroughly. Attendees and participants in this summit include household names from politics, fashion, the arts, fashion, and international affairs. Forums like this aren't designed to discover all the answers. They're meant to pose questions and start a discussion.

(Note: Readers who do have reliable data on the split can let us know in the Comments)

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