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Companies Expected to Hire More Female GCs Despite Some Obstacles

Sue Reisinger LAW.COM

Though women hold only 30 percent of GC jobs in Fortune 500 companies, the survey said 43 percent of new general counsel hires in the group from mid-2017 to mid-2018 were female.

An Association of Corporate Counsel survey released Tuesday showed that women in America may have finally turned the corner in their quest for parity in attaining jobs as general counsel. And some experts believe the trend will continue.

Though women currently hold only 30 percent of GC jobs in Fortune 500 companies, the survey said 43 percent of new general counsel in that select group from mid-2017 to mid-2018 were female.

Eliza Stoker, an executive director for the in-house practice group at legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa, also said that she expects increased female hiring to continue, at least for a while.

Stoker said that companies are “more frank and candid than they used to be” about specifying when they want to hire a woman or person of color. She sees two factors driving the hiring trend: one “is a genuine desire for diversity, including women—because not all companies define diversity as including women,” she said.

And the second, Stoker said, “is a much broader, fear-based drive related to the #MeToo movement. My gut tells me that the fear is a much stronger driver than the altruistic desire for a diverse work force.” Although #MeToo started as a movement against sexual abuse, especially in the workplace, it has grown to include women’s empowerment in general.

She said she believes an increasing share of GC hires will go to women “as long as the #MeToo movement has the power to strike fear into employers.”

Stoker added, “Hopefully we reach some point of critical mass where we have a good number of women general counsel, and there no longer needs to be fear or altruistic drivers.”

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