I once attended a business position as the only woman among many men. However, this was not an unusual occurrence; As a female advocate general, I had encountered many interesting situations.
On this occasion a man came up to me and asked who I was with. I looked at him for a second, took a rather dramatic gulp of my water and brushed my hair back a little to really enjoy it. I introduced myself in a James Bond movie and said, “Sir, I’m going to be unattended tonight. Imagine all the damage I can do. “
Perhaps that was a little undiplomatic, but there was some frustration in this area – he was just the person unlucky enough to put the last straw on the camel’s back. Fortunately, there is more to the story because it was the incident that prompted me to do a little bit of research.
In my research, I found that very few Fortune 500 companies had women on their boards. Instead of being outraged, I took the same fire I could have used for anger and ignited a passion within myself instead. I took it upon myself to bring this issue to light and for several months I tweeted and shared satirical posts urging Fortune 500 companies not to have female representation.
The response exceeded my expectations and my actions took off. Before I knew it, a little movement had formed.
All of this was great, but one of the biggest disappointments of our time is that we’ve given people so many platforms with little progress. Social media gives everyone a voice that resonates with people, but a voice cannot force change until the words are on paper. Not any kind of paper; I am talking about laws.
Within a few months this passionate fire had turned me from a lawyer to a lobbyist. I drafted and promoted California Bill 826, focusing on equal opportunity and promotion on corporate boards of various races and genders.
You see, real change is structured change. Changing the law changes the baseline. Even before the law was passed, Fortune 500 companies were early on to the ideas behind it. Several women joined the executives of their companies.
That’s not even the best. While these were the immediate effects, an unexpected followed – one that is more beautiful overall. I got feedback from graduates and girls preparing for college that their dreams had changed. That they saw themselves as lawyers, CEOs, board members and more.
Young women who had just left school told me about their plans to make it to the boardroom and told me exactly how they would get there. It was pretty moving.
This is the real beauty of law – not only does it challenge hierarchies and social complexes, but it also tears down the inferiority complexes in the minds of 16 year old girls.
It draws closer to the horizon, expands its reach and gives people more space to dream while removing the space between them and their dreams.
That is why the law is the director of dreams. It tears down barriers and opens the door between dreams and reality. You can learn more about this on this legally speaking podcast, Forbes Features Miniseries with Robert Hanna.
What laws will bring about structural changes that will bring the horizon closer in 2021?
Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next generation contract management company that pioneered online negotiation technology. Embracing legal innovation, Olga has dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She believes that with the adoption of technology, the legal profession will emerge stronger, more resilient and more inclusive than before. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup consultant, speaker, associate professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women serve on board Movement promoting women’s participation on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. she wrote Get on board: Earn your ticket for a seat on the corporate board and Fundamentals of intelligent contract security. You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.