Danielle Hirsch is a partner at Morrison & Foerster (International) LLP and is based in the London office. She advises clients on all aspects of global real estate and private equity transactions. Danielle has acted for a full range of real estate clients, including sellers, purchasers, lenders, institutions, investors, and servicers. She has also worked closely with finance teams in dealing with the real estate aspects of financial transactions, including direct/indirect investment in property, loan origination, loan purchases, CMBS transactions and restructurings.
Why is it important to celebrate Women’s History Month/International Women’s Day?
Just because we have made enormous strides in gender equality over the past 100 years thanks to the efforts of incredible and notable women, it does not mean that we can rest on our laurels and assume that the hard work has been done, or else we risk lethargy. We risk ambivalence. We risk regression. We celebrate Women’s History Month/International Women’s Day to remember how far we have come and also to remind ourselves how much further we have to go. Hopefully there will come a time when 50/50 splits of males and females on boards of companies and equity partners in law firms won’t be the cause of celebration or even be worthy of comment, but until that day arrives we have serious work to do.
I have two young daughters and so this is a cause that is very close to my heart. I want my girls to know that they truly can achieve anything they put their minds to. And I have to help create the world in which that statement is true.
What would be the most meaningful action that allies could undertake to help advance women in the workplace?
I think it is incumbent on everyone in the workplace to be responsible for calling out examples of gender bias and unhelpful language. For example, if someone uses the word “girl” when actually the person being referred to is a woman. Language matters and it matters what we call people. Words have meaning and are powerful, and they change the way we frame things in our minds. When we use the word “girl” to describe a woman, it changes the way we view women, even subconsciously. It translates to women not being equal to men. There’s an implication that they are inferior to men, even if that is not the intention. We don’t call men “boys” and rightly so as it is demeaning and emasculating. Let’s look at the language we, and others, use so that we can change the narrative.
Tell us about the woman who most influenced your career and how she motivated you.
Throughout my career, there have been many women who have influenced me and my behavior in different ways. There have been women along the way who have garnered my respect and my admiration, who have blazed a trail, and who I have wanted to emulate. And there have been others who have tried to teach me that in order to be successful, you have to act like a man, compete as a man, and lose those qualities that make you a woman. Numerous times I’ve encountered the (unhelpful!) attitude of “I’ve had a tough time getting here, why should you now have a smooth ride?” Since moving to MoFo, I’ve been blown away by the emphasis on support, collaboration, and collegiality from the most impressive women at every level who have made it their mission to create a culture of kindness and respect, and a platform to push forward an unwavering commitment to gender equality. The combined power of these voices at MoFo continues to motivate me.