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Carrie Parikh

Carrie Parikh recently became chief operating officer in the New Jersey governor’s Office of Information Technology and chief data and privacy officer for the state of New Jersey. The latter role is the first statewide privacy role in the state’s history. She previously was vice president, legal, at Wyndham Hotel Group, having quickly ascended from the position of senior counsel handling privacy matters.

What’s your single best piece of advice for handling a crisis?

It is not a matter of “if” but when. So, BE PREPARED. Practice several possible crisis situations. Know who your go-to team will be during the crisis. Accept responsibility and don’t make excuses. The public is much more forgiving if one accepts responsibility for her actions early on rather than if she backtracks down the road or gets caught trying to cover up a mistake. Be consistent. During a crisis always act like you are on national TV when responding. It is bound to get heated and it’s OK to feel the heat but remember, you will be judged by your temperament in responding as much as on your substantive approach.

Name a mentor or someone you admire, and why.

The Notorious RBG. In the face of incredible prejudice and sexism she beat the odds and made her mark and continues to inspire women, all over the globe with her simple yet, immensely powerful words: “I dissent.” It is many women’s battle cry. It is certainly mine.

Best advice you ever got…

No one ever gets to the top alone. Women often try to be Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. But someone I love dearly once told me that there are people who not only want to see me reach the top but, they want help me get there. It’s OK to put down the world and let someone else help you carry it. Knowing when you need help and being able to ask for help is a strength, not a weakness.

What has the #MeToo movement meant to the legal profession?

Fear of speaking out, of repercussions or of damaging a hard-earned career is still very real. But, with #MeToo, it is getting better. The more we see women come forward, the braver others get to come forward. We are seeing firms and corporations and even courts respond by reviewing sexual harassment policies, examining reporting procedures and structures, and fostering dialogue meant to find systematic changes. But, this isn’t enough. We need to ensure that no partner in a firm, even the rainmaker, or a judge or high-level company executive is untouchable. We have to keep insisting that the humanity of women matters more than the almighty buck and yes, FIRE offenders no matter the cost to the bottom line. #MeToo is certainly helping in this fight but, we have a long way to go.

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to improve opportunities for women lawyers?

Unless women are co-creators we cannot shape the culture. Real change will happen when more women take high-level and influential positions … where policies are being made. For this to happen, men will not only have to champion for women, they will also have to volunteer to step out of the way.

David Gialanella

David Gialanella, Bureau Chief, has been with the New Jersey Law Journal since 2010, covering business of law, litigation, legislation and various other topics. In his current role, he is responsible for the Law Journal's print and web products. Reach him at dgialanella@alm.com.

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