• Cheek

This CEO is making change from the top down

The CEO of prestigious law firm Minter Ellison, Annette Kimmitt, might lose her job after sending a company-wide email criticising senior partners' decision to take on Christian Porter as a client. She stated the usual process was not followed when it came to Porter, saying

“The acceptance of this matter did not go through the firm’s due consultation or approval processes. Had it done so, we would have considered the matter through the lens of our Purposes and Values.”

She went on to say that the decision to take him on as a client was upsetting to her, and apologised to any other staff who may have felt similar hurt.

My first question when reading this news last week was why does Christian Porter appear to be exempt from regular processes and procedures? But this article isn't about that...

It's about the CEO herself, Ms Annette Kimmitt.

It's very likely she will be called to resign, or even removed from her position after sending the email. Senior staff at the law firm have said her actions were inappropriate, and that she should have consulted her colleagues, particularly Peter Bartlett, Christian Porter's lawyer.

And I agree. It probably was inappropriate.

It may have embarrassed the senior lawyers, especially Mr Bartlett. It could be seen as unethical, and at the very least, a bad look on the company. It could communicate infighting in and distrust among senior management. You don't need an MBA to know that's bad business, and fosters pretty negative workplace culture.

But that's the point.

Annette Kimmitt probably knew it was inappropriate. She probably knew she could get fired. I'm sure she's a very smart woman, and is obviously highly qualified. She did it anyway. And that gives me literal chills down my spine. We need women like Annette Kimmitt to disrupt the ongoing culture of silence and complacency.

Women didn't get the vote by playing by the rules. Second wave feminists were notoriously 'angry women'. They didn't send a polite email requesting equal rights please. And for everyday women who feel like they're yelling into a void, unheard, watching a woman at the top put her foot down, consequences be damned... That's fucking powerful.

As Sherly Sandberg once said, we need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored. I don't have much time for Sheryl, but this quote is pertinent, and it is correct.

Ms Kimmitt isn't the first woman to use her power, position, and privilege, and she won't be the last.