Charlotte Proudman, you are my new hero. Good for you for calling out the Big Law partner who thought “complimenting” you on your photo was a great way to begin a conversation:
We have come so far, yet really, we haven’t. For any male lawyer who is wondering why Ms. Proudman is so offended by having her photo praised as “stunning,” please walk down the hall and ask any woman over 40 about the first time she was sexually harassed in the work place. For me, I was 23-years old working at a restaurant to help pay my way through college. Players from the local professional football team would come in and hang out at our bar after training practice. One Friday night, with a full station of tables working, my manager told me that “Mr. NFL player” at the bar would like me to join him. I was confused, as I was “working.” My manager told me not to worry about my tables, that he thought it was a very good idea for me to go join the player. I told him no. I wasn’t raised that way and went about my work. I was fired that week. That was my first story, but not my last. And if you’re thinking, “But that was in 1988; that doesn’t happen any more.” Um, yes it does. I was just recanting a story of the senior partner, after a major client meeting, leaning over in the limousine and kissing the associate. She did not return to the firm. He did. That did occur in this millennium. While I am sure the big law partner does not need any more shaming (the British tabloids have picked up the story), the lessons obviously still need to be learned. If we truly want diversity, and women in leadership roles in law firms, then we need to be seen and treated, in public and private, as the equal professionals we are.