Interviews March 17, 2015

Ashley Menser Previews Women in Financial Institutions

We recently sat down with Ashley Menser, partner in the firm’s Federal & International Tax Group, to discuss the firm’s upcoming Women in Financial Institutions (WIFI) seminar in Charlotte.

Describe the upcoming Women in Financial Institutions event.

Alston & Bird takes a proactive role in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. The firm has many programs and committees dedicated to discussing how our workplace supports the professional growth and success of women. We understand that our clients have similar programs aimed at helping women in finance achieve success, so this is a way for us to join forces to focus on women in Charlotte’s financial community and to share professional experiences, advance thought leadership and foster personal and professional networking.

Why did the firm and its clients decide to host this event now?

Our female clients frequently comment that they do not often get the opportunity to network with other professional women, even within their own organizations. And despite significant progress over the years, women remain underrepresented at senior levels within financial institutions. We started WIFI as we tried to answer the question, “How can we engage women among our financial institution clients for dialogue about their career challenges and growth?”

You are on the national steering committee of Alston & Bird’s Women’s Initiative — what does your role entail?

The Women’s Initiative, a part of the Diversity Steering Committee, provides internal and external opportunities and events for women in the firm to meet, share experiences and build their careers. The Women's Initiative also helps women with challenges they may face with work-life balance. Personally, being in one of the firm’s smaller offices means it is even more important to me to support my female colleagues in Charlotte and help them build relationships with women throughout the firm. I’m also focused on supporting our recruitment and retention of top female talent.

Alston & Bird is well known for being one of Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” and was recently recognized by Fortune as one of the “Top 10 Best Companies for Women.” Why do you think Alston & Bird is a great place for women?

We are so pleased with this new recognition—being ranked No. 4 on Fortune’s list of the top companies for women, with women making up 53 percent of employees firmwide. I think this recognition is attributable in part to our extraordinary benefits, including adoption benefits and paid leave, child and elder care and telecommuting and alternative work schedules that help us be there for our families and for our colleagues.
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