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Speaking about her passion of equity in the workplace, employment lawyer Therese M. Lawless shared with us how she uses the law to overcome gender bias in last Tuesday’s Morning Meeting. In addition to her role as an employment lawyer, Therese is also a Bay parent and member of Bay’s Board of Trustees. Therese was the prosecuting attorney in the high profile case of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, in which she represented Ellen Pao, a former Junior Partner of the venture capital firm, who sued the company for gender discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent discrimination.

Therese spoke to Bay students about her work to make the workplace fair, equitable and inclusive for employees and how she uses the law to overcome obstacles.  Some of the major obstacles in the workplace she discussed were:

  • Implicit Bias: stereotypes, assumption or preconceived notions about a person in the workplace.
  • Systemic Discrimination: a pattern or practice in which an entire company or industry discriminates.
  • Income Inequality: an uneven distribution of income among a certain group of people.

Therese shared with students the importance of recognizing that we all have biases, and although they may not always be intentional, we need to use our awareness to overcome them so we can create a fair, equitable and inclusive environment for all. She stressed the importance of public forum and how using a public forum to bring these biases to light can help to elicit change for others in a similar situation. Because the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case was presented in a public forum, it has helped other women and minorities in the same industry to speak up and the industry is beginning to change its ways as a result.

Therese’s presentation mirrored many of the values and lessons that Bay students are already learning in the classroom and in the Bay community. She also left our students with a call to action- that they will be the generation to end the income inequality crisis that we face today.

Bay is exceptionally grateful to Therese for sharing her expertise with us and we look forward to having her back in the near future to update us on this important work.

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