Meet a Ladybadass: Jessica Shor - Mentor, Pragmatist, and Advocate
Over on our #ladybadass sister-site, we highlight many of the fearless, courageous, and inspiring ladies in business and in life around the world. We’re taking this idea a step further and finding out what it is that motivates and inspires these phenomenal women.
... and by the way, privacy is dead. Deal with it.
Overcoming challenges and hardships have set a blueprint of tenacity and grit for Jessica Shor from the earliest age: “Growing up without any means at all. Struggling with my mom being a single parent, not having any money, having to work a million jobs from the age of 12.” She realizes that the quest for “financial stability and support is a pretty fundamental color in my life.” This adversity also motivates her passion for mentorship. “Most of what I do for myself and others with mentoring with WILPower and Hipower is aimed at ensuring all women have the ability to create their own financial freedom and independence, a sense of security.”
Shor early experiences with financial insecurity led her to study Law, a profession that would last the ages. Shor is currently in Denver, Colorado as Vice-President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Vendavo.
A Boise Idaho high school teacher, Keith Carlton was a pivotal influence in Shor’s early life. He taught Shor not to accept life's roadblocks as a fait accomplis but to challenge and tackle them head-on. When a growing school population forced her to transfer to a different High School, Mr. Carlton helped her appeal to the school board for permission to go back and forth between both high schools. This allowed her to attend his law-focused class and attend field trips to the courthouse. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year. For Shor, his enduring legacy and influence taught her to “Seek opportunity where there are barriers.”
Throughout her studies, Shor used this advice to take opportunities that before were out of reach. As a college sophomore, she applied for and won a place studying in Dubai, an honor previously reserved for upperclassmen. While attending Santa Clara Law School, she became the first at her school to work for the United Nations.
Jessica Shor perpetuates Mr. Carlton’s generous spirit and legacy through her work with the Peace Corps in Mozambique, with the UN, and volunteering with Leon Panetta. Her most recent opportunity was serving as President for Leading Women in Technology.
What Could Have Been
Sometimes we have to make decisions based on financial pragmatism rather than idealism. During Law School, Shor had the opportunity to work and volunteer with the UN, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, and the Center for Justice and Accountability. While noble, these organizations tend to pay less than the corporate world. Having had financial limitations in her youth and the subsequent mortgage-sized loans that accompanied Law School, Shor realized that her passion had to take a back-seat to financial security.
“My passion has always been and always will be helping people giving back and making a difference. While I wanted to follow a path of international human rights law, unconventional was not going to pay well in the near term.”
Privacy and Regulation
Shor acknowledges that “You can't visit a website without them collecting data on you and tracking you.” However, unlike many other attorneys, she prefers not to be an alarmist. Shor fundamentally believes that “We should just accept that privacy is dead. Unless you want to live in a hole in the mountains, why don't you accept your data’s everywhere?”
Characteristically, never one to swim with the tide, Shor holds a less conventional and more pragmatic view of the data privacy and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) currently on the horizon. GDPR (effective May 2018) sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU.
These EU regulations are designed theoretically to give individuals the right to be forgotten.
Shor is not certain this regulation is even plausible. Putting the burden on corporations to delete and track transferred data is not only an “over rotation” she argues but, in practice a “big waste of time, money and resources in an effort to try to accomplish something that probably won't be accomplished anyway.”
Shor is skeptical that corporations will be able to achieve the specified mandates. Her critique, in a nutshell, is that we are being unrealistic to expect privacy in this day and age. Furthermore, if we do have that expectation, then we should take some pretty drastic measures personally to achieve that goal ourselves, and not rely on legislation or even corporations for protection.
“Go back to the flip phone. Get off the email that's free. Stop shopping online. Stop doing all of these things. If your privacy is that important to you, start taking pretty aggressive steps, and stop putting it on the businesses to comply with all these regulations.”
Shor believes that technology is working well for us essentially, even if does come with some less than ideal repercussions. That's just the trade-off we make.
Women and Sexism in the Workplace
Shor admits that she’s not very successful at navigating the male-dominated law arena. The challenges arise when people don’t call out sexist comments, or if done, often being labeled “uptight”. Women continually are asked to organize things, take notes in meetings, or be the social chair - roles that are historically women’s work. This can be particularly humiliating for executive level women.
For better or worse there is a fine line between what you're able to say and continue your employment, right? That is unfortunate.
Shor is optimistic about the future, especially as we get more women to the Arianna Huffington levels of power in the boardroom. Women in power positions can push back against the institutional sexism that is currently so pervasive. It is incumbent on her and others at the “C” level to “look back and inspire motivate and help others, as that's really the key, finding your own personal success ensuring that you are looking back to lift everybody else.”
Continuing the lessons of Mr. Carlson, Shor is an advocate for mentoring the next generation and supporting her peers. Shor is actively stepping up to that challenge to change the culture by her leadership roles within HiPower and WILPower.
HiPower is a group of executive women brought together to share accomplishments and frustrations. Shor explains that the organization gives an “amazing sense of community. Every ring has its own tight-knit circle of people they can lean on and call for personal/professional successes and losses.” Each year the organization invites a class (known as a ring) of 15 successful businesswomen to participate. Each member is asked to promote each other’s successes, help with personal projects, and make introductions.
WilPower, under the umbrella of Leading Women in Technology, mentors the next generation of women leaders. During Shor’s term as WILpower President, the organization grew from 50 people in just one city to over 200 in four cities (San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Palo Alto.) She sees the need for more chapters across the country, “Once I’m settled here in Denver I will start a chapter here.”
Women helping women succeed.
This LBA doesn’t let adversity stop her. She is doing everything in her power to bolster the next generation.
Connect with Jessica Shor