At Everise, we believe in continuously evolving our company culture to fit the needs of our Champions and empower them as members of our Everise family. Our leaders guide our people by promoting our inclusive values and inspiring progressive changes for our organization.
In this installment of our Championing Diversity & Inclusion series, we're featuring one of our most tenured and experienced female leaders, Everise Chief Legal Officer, Helen Franco.
An experienced corporate attorney with more than 20 years of experience, Helen's pool of knowledge and expertise helped guide Everise in our early years. Since joining Everise, Helen has been protecting our company from legal risks while ensuring that we adhere to sound corporate governance practices.
In this interview with Helen, she shares valuable lessons from her experience in the legal field and how it has helped her evolve in her career. Helen also talks about her leadership journey while discussing the importance of diversity and empowering women to take leadership positions.
Q: How is Everise choosing to challenge and expand gender diversity?
A: Everise chooses to challenge and expand diversity; gender diversity, especially, by hiring the best candidates. And they're totally blind to where you are, where you're from. The only thing that matters is your background and your skillset. And I've always found that to be true at Everise.
Q: Why is diversity important to our success?
A: Diversity is important to our success because Everise is a people-first company. It doesn't just announce that; we actually live that every day. It's a matter of respect for individuals. It's a matter of respect for where they come from, and who they are, and how they perform their function within the company. Diversity is a factor that we don't just make a point of adhering to because that would be stilted. I think it's just the way we go about finding people and empowering people.
Q: Why is Everise a great place for women to work?
A: Everise is a great place for women to work because Everise looks at people's skillsets and not necessarily their gender.
Q: How has Everise fared during COVID-19, and what have been the most tangible impacts and challenges?
A: Everise has actually fared very well during COVID-19. For good or for ill, we wound up sending most of our workforce remote within about four to five weeks from the start of the shelter in place last year. And as a result, we've managed to stay ahead of the game. People are getting more and more comfortable working remotely and doing a really good job.
As far as I know, the productivity has been steady, if not improved. People enjoy working from home, and it's given us a lot more access to the labor force, as well as simply being able to offer people a position that they feel is more attuned with their daily needs, their family needs, their personal need. Being able to stay at home has been a real boon for a lot of the people who work for Everise.
Q: As a female leader, in what ways are you empowering the next generation?
A: I feel that I'm empowering the next generation simply by being the type of person that's open to other people and their concerns, their wants, and needs. As far as how it is that Everise, I've been here for a long time. I've been here for over 10 years. And a lot of people will look to me, as I guess you could say, as an example of what it means to survive. I enjoy my work. I really like waking up to it every day, and somehow that rubs off on people.
Q: Where do you see Everise in five years?
A: I see Everise being stronger, more diverse, and making its mark in the marketplace and in the workplace. I've seen it grow the last few years. It’s been a pleasure for me, and I'm really excited to be part of it.
Q: What is it like being a woman in the corporate legal field?
A: It's unusual. It's exciting. It means people don't quite believe it. Sometimes I get weird reactions, but on the whole, for me, it's been a challenge.
And it's a challenge that I enjoy - one that I don't want to give up any time soon. And I believe that it's been valuable to the company to get a feminine legal point of view as well. At least, that's what I found in my career.
Female attorneys tend to be more pragmatic. They tend not to take and take the job so personally or have to prove themselves. The fact that they've already challenged the other half of the gender population and succeeded means that they have a certain level of confidence in their abilities that is refreshing.
Q: Any advice to young lawyers?
A: My advice to young lawyers is to be very certain that this is the career they want because it's not easy and it's very stressful, and it burns you out really quickly. So you have to have a very measured approach to the profession and always have a sense of humor about it.
Q: Any last things that you want to add that you would want to say?
A: My personal belief is that everyone is doing a really good job as far as gender diversity is concerned. I've witnessed the fact that there are so many women in leadership. In most of the conference calls that I'm on these days, there's rarely a man present. That, to me, is a sign that everything is way ahead of the curve, and things intend to stay that way.