International Women’s Day – 5 quick questions with Claire Carton

1 March 2018

In the lead up to our 2018 International Women’s Day event, Lead the Change: The Pathway to Gender Equality, we spoke to the event keynote, Claire Carton.

Claire Carton is a Managing Partner at Griffin Legal, with expertise in Commercial Law, Government Advisory, Sports Law, Child Welfare, Sponsorship, and the Not-for-Profit sector. Claire was also the recipient of the 2012 Young Business Woman of the Year – ACT Chamber of Women in Business.

Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.

Nine years ago, in response to an absence of Canberra firms that valued lawyers as mothers with young children, I started a law firm that now has offices in Canberra and Melbourne.

What was or is your biggest leadership challenge?

There are very few women in my profession that have started their own commercial law firms, and have four young children. Finding a mentor was difficult. I was fortunate for some years to have a colleague walk the path with me, but I probably would have benefited more from someone ahead of us in terms of their career and family life. I would encourage young women today to seek out a mentor or someone they can speak to about what to expect, what to plan for, what to watch out for and to give you perspective from time to time.

Why we need more women leaders and what difference can women make in terms of gender equality.

There are too many to list here. The most striking for me as we approach International Women’s Day is that women leaders are role models. Australia’s 2018 Young Australian of the Year is a fantastic example of how leaders can be role models–Samantha Kerr. I understand she may be the best soccer player Australia has ever produced and I’m not sure people appreciate how big an achievement this is– soccer is a huge, worldwide sport. In turn, the recognition of her achievements spreads the message about gender equality to boys and girls – girls can do anything boys can and as well as they can – even in traditional male arenas! There’s a message for all of us here.

What book should every woman inspiring women read?

Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte. I read this book a few years ago when my youngest child was still very much a baby. It is a great book for women and our ‘modern’ busy lives. It’s a great book for shaking traditional gender roles at home. It’s a great book for understanding the structural and historical issues that impact women today as they go about raising children, working and simply being a woman. And then, best of all, it reminds you to focus on what’s important in life.

Share with us the best advice you have been given.

Probably from my Dad when I first starting working fulltime, he said “don’t have a big lunch or you’ll be tired after lunch”. He was right, and I ignore him too often! That is probably not the quote you were after, but the point is I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house where I didn’t have any negative experiences with gender differences. As a result of this, I didn’t understand they existed until it was much too late for me to take any notice of them. My parents gave and expected the same from me as they did my six brothers. I only wish this was true for children today. I am a firm believer that gender equality begins at home, and that there is a significant amount of work to do here.

To hear more from Claire, register to attend our International Women’s Day event now, and stay in the loop with future advocacy events by subscribing to our quarterly Y Action newsletter.

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