For decades women in the law industry have traveled an invigorating yet rocky road. History has witnessed that women in the legal industry have offered an unparalleled view of their profession. Hence, the progression of women in the law industry is significant for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that will generate broader discussion and ideation. As a result, it enhances client services and embarks a cohesive and robust culture. To take this culture further to face rigidity and constraints and assert a cultural shift in the industry, Yosr Hamza is leading with perseverance.
As a Director of Legal affairs at Gartner, Yosr leads the Middle East legal team and ensures that it remains one of the top-performing regions globally. She also continues to track sales growth by maintaining a culture of high performance and accountability.
A Confident Peregrination
Yosr’s journey has been quite remarkable. She is an award-winning bilingual legal counsel who was the first locally hired lawyer in the Middle East. Fast forward to today, she leads a small team supporting legal work in an emerging, complex, dynamic, and rapidly growing region. They are constantly improving how to leverage finite resources to align their practices with expanding business needs closely. Yosr and team have been recognized multiple times for being an effective strategic business partner while championing ethical values and a growth mindset and maintaining a culture of high performance and accountability.
Yosr is a massive champion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). She leads the efforts for Women at Gartner – Middle East chapter while also co-leading the DEI efforts in the global legal team through Mosaic at Gartner.
“In Gartner, we believe that as individuals and as an organization, we are stronger and better by bringing diverse perspectives and experiences together. Through the work of our ERGs, we establish inclusive and supportive environments for everyone globally because that’s what we need. We need for everyone to be able to achieve the same, no matter who they are and where they come from,” mentions Yosr.
A company’s success is all about the people. People want to work in an environment that fosters and rewards diversity and is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone to bring their authentic selves to the workplace.
In addition, Yosr also represents the Office of the Ombuds and Data Protection team in the Middle East.
The books ‘Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain and ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by Morgan Scott Peck have hugely influenced Yosr.
Alongside books, another factor that impacted Yosr was relocating to Dubai, considering law practice is an exciting and rewarding experience given the nature of clients, the scale of projects, and the variety of the work, especially in private practice.
Moreover, Yosr had recognized early in her career that she wanted to move in-house. She tried to give herself a chance to get used to being outside her comfort zone as a lawyer and interact confidently with senior stakeholders to ensure they take risk-assessed business decisions.
One of the crucial issues Yosr mentions is that gender inequalities still shake the Middle East. Women still face more cultural rigidity and constraints than their western peers, and there is so much yet to achieve in this area, fight for the cultural shift about gender equality. To help her in this fight, Yosr’s son has been her biggest motivation to be vocal about DE&I in the legal profession. “Arguably, his most important quality is his inability to judge. Because of his neurodiverse condition, he doesn’t see differences in skin color, religion, or gender. He willingly offers the same kind of acceptance that most people spend their entire lives searching for,” says Yosr.
The last factor that impacts Yosr is to wholeheartedly embrace as an in-house counsel by wearing multiple hats and fulfilling the shoes of a decision-maker and business advisor.
Changing Times, Changing Work Culture
Sharing her views on implementing a positive work culture, Yosr opines that the work culture has never been a priority than it is today. The company’s success is all about the people. A diverse and positive work culture leads to amplified efficiency. Gartner’s inclusive culture encouraged her to bring her authentic self to work. Individually or collectively, it is essential to value each other’s unique experiences, backgrounds, values, views, and contributions. All these factors play a critical role in a company’s collective success.
The Pandemic Out-Turn
Talking about the impact of the current pandemic on the Law Industry, Yosr expresses that personally, social distancing and remote working have forever changed the workplace. Colleagues are now working from home with their pets, kids, and partners, blurring the line between their personal and work lives. Once seen as a sign of weakness in the legal industry, which values ‘in-person meetings,’ remote work is now center stage.
Likely, more companies and law firms are endorsing flexible work in a way the legal profession has rarely seen before the pandemic. In the future, those who request flexible time to take care of children will no doubt deal with less pushback since employers know work can be done remotely.
Similarly, candidates once competed for jobs, and employers now advertise their flexibility to help attract talent. Hopefully, the historical barriers of promotion to in-house lawyers or the admission to partnership for private practice lawyers will also be re-thought.
Traditionally, DEI was seen as an HR initiative at work only. But now, it goes beyond the internal focus towards an external footprint as well. Personally, Yosr is committed outside work to DEI, mentorship, sponsorship, and creating opportunities for younger female students to thrive throughout their legal career journey.
Yosr has mostly found this remote working environment good for her career since it gave her more control over her schedule and work. She has found the time to be part of Gartner’s internal DEI efforts and mentor law students and junior lawyers externally. Everyone has something to offer, and the mentor gets as much from the mentorship as the mentee.
In these unprecedented times, gaining work experience and networking is difficult, but hopefully, mentors can help students build resilience and perseverance. Yosr asserts, “A lot of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety can be relieved with a few supportive words and genuine advice. We have all been there and hoped to find a good mentor to reach out to. Besides, people never forget when someone goes above and beyond, and even small, daily gestures add up over time. Everyone wins when the mentorship machine is well-oiled. After all, a student will likely turn to you for advice throughout their career and maybe even refer a few potential clients or employers your way.”
On advising women aspiring to venture into Law Industry, Yosr says, “Be confident and authentic. You don’t need to be anyone or anything other than who you are right now to succeed in this profession. Keep an open mind while staying true to yourself, your values, what you believe in and want to do regardless of what your peers think is the right path.”