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What women should be doing to help each other

Frances Green Photo Last week, I had lunch with three women. We were chatting about all kinds of things when I asked one of the women, Fran Green, about her experience as the founder of the Women’s Initiative at her law firm, Epstein Becker Green.

Green is one of the most interesting women I have met. She truly believes women should help each other. Green is a former nun, a respected employment attorney, an equestrian, a fluent speaker of Japanese, and she's married to the name partner in Epstein Becker Green, one of the country's most recognized employment law firms. Fran and I discuseed the Women's Initiative and its success. Eight years after formation, Fran says it has connected dozens of women inside and outside the law firm through workshops and by providing a place to share information on how to get ahead.

Fran has something even more impressive to her credit than founder of the Women’s Initiative.  She has fully embraced mentorship: “I don’t go to a client meeting or lunch without bringing a young female associate with me to watch and learn.”   Can you imagine if all women in senior positions  made that effort?

Coincidentally, one of my lunch guests was Cindi Perantoni,  a young account executive at a local PR firm. She had come to the lunch with her boss, firm co-owner Sissy DeMaria.  Afterward, Cindy told me how much she professional had gained from watching Sissy interact with Fran, a firm client. “There’s a value to seeing someone in action and learning through osmosis," she said. "How else can you grow in your profession?"

We all know women in senior positions who have no interest in bringing other women up the ladder. I've seen them at my workplace and I'm sure you have, too. I hold out hope that the Fran Greens out there will encourage future generations of women to invite young associates along on client meetings or lunch with senior members of the firm. Am I being naive?

Do you think that women are doing enough mentoring? Have you ever been invited by a senior person at your workplace to an important meeting? Would you be willing to reach out and bring someone else up the ladder?