Across the United States and the globe, women are chronically underrepresented in corporate leadership roles. A recent study conducted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics that surveyed women in leadership in nearly 22,000 firms in 91 countries revealed some sobering statistics.
Nearly a third of the companies studied had no women on their boards of directors or in C-suite positions, and half had no top female executives. Another finding—companies where women made up at least 30% of executives typically had higher profits than companies with fewer women in top manager roles.
Businesses could clearly do more to invest in women, which is why Morgan Lewis is putting its support behind Fortune’s Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program for the second year in a row. The program aims to empower female leaders through on-site mentoring with top women executives at US companies. It is designed to foster the exchange of ideas, best practices, and organizational and management skills to encourage the next generation of women to bring positive change to their companies and communities.
Morgan Lewis Firm Chair Jami McKeon, a longtime advocate for diversity throughout the legal profession, is one of 21 US executives selected by Fortune to participate in the program this year. Our firm is hosting Nga “Hannah” Thu Doan, founder and managing director of LAWPRO Limited Liability Law Company in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hannah will shadow Jami and other members of the firm’s executive leadership for two weeks in our Philadelphia office.
“We all share the responsibility to promote gender equality through inclusion and creation of opportunities for women,” said Jami, who became the first woman Chair at Morgan Lewis in October 2014 and has since won recognition for her innovative leadership style. “It’s our goal at Morgan Lewis to lead by example,” she said.
Firm Chair Jami McKeon (left) with this year's Fortune/US State Department mentee, Nga "Hannah" Thu Doan during Hannah's two-week mentorship program at Morgan Lewis.
Now in its 11th year, the mentoring program—which is facilitated by the US Department of State and Fortune in coordination with the Vital Voices Global Partnership—has a profound personal and professional effect on participants. Shadowing a community of mentors enables participants to see great leadership in action and allows them to engage new skills in their own work and communities. Vital Voices reports that six months after the 2015 program, 88% implemented changes to their business or organization and 100% mentored someone inside their business. What’s more, the program forges bonds of sisterhood that cross professional expertise and cultures, allowing the alumnae to continue to encourage and inspire one another long after the program ends.
Hannah launched LAWPRO, one of the first law firms in Vietnam specializing in business law, in 2007. She has since grown the firm to 15 full-time employees amid challenges that include an ever-changing competitive landscape. Among her goals during her stay at Morgan Lewis is to pick up tips on building, developing, and training a strong workforce and expanding her firm’s market share, even as human and financial resources remain modest. She’s also hoping to connect with Jami and other leading women lawyers at Morgan Lewis over the challenges women in the legal profession share, no matter where in the world they practice.
“As a lawyer, I am strongly committed to delivering outcomes for clients no matter how much time and effort is required,” Hannah said. “As a wife, mother of two sons, entrepreneur, and manager of my own law firm, I find it challenging to accommodate the demands of work and family life. I am delighted for the opportunity to share experiences with the women leaders of Morgan Lewis.”