Women at McKinsey: Lareina Yee, Senior Partner, Bay Area


Lareina Lee

Advises technology companies on growth and organization transformation; a leading expert in gender and diversity, she became the firm’s first diversity and inclusion officer

Lareina writes and speaks on technology and diversity. In her role as chair of the McKinsey Technology Council, she recently published the firm’s annual “Technology Trends Outlook” and “Value creation in the metaverse” reports, which examine long-term technology shifts and the implications for different industries.

Lareina also cofounded “Women in the Workplace,” an annual research partnership with LeanIn.org, which reports on the state of women in corporate America year over year. In addition to this yearly report, she has coauthored a significant body of research on diversity including “Race in the workplace: The frontline experience,” and “Delivering through diversity.” Lareina frequently speaks about women in business at prominent industry events. She writes and speaks widely on diversity and inclusion topics, including appearances in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fortune, Fast Company, and CBS News, among others.

Outside of McKinsey, Lareina is on the board of the San Francisco Ballet and the advisory boards of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and the Beyond Barnard programme at Columbia University.


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This Women’s History Month, we’re chatting with McKinsey leaders about their role as women in the workplace and beyond. Today, we’ll hear from Lareina Yee, a senior partner in the Bay Area who advises technology companies on growth and organizational transformation. As a leading expert in gender and diversity, Lareina became the firm’s first diversity and inclusion officer. For more Q&As throughout the month, bookmark this page

Women in the Workplace:

Even in the metaverse, women remain locked out of leadership roles,”  McKinsey & Company, November 2022

Weighing the pandemic’s impact on working moms,” ABC News, May 2021

Creating a postpandemic recovery for women in the workplace,” McKinsey & Company, March 2021

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Women in the Workplace 2020,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Ten things to know about gender equality,” McKinsey Global Institute, September 2020

Confronting the early-career gender gap,” McKinsey Quarterly, January 2020

Women in the Workplace 2019,” McKinsey & Company, October 2019

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Women in the Workplace 2016,” a study undertaken by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, September 2016

What It Will Take to Make the Tech Industry More Diverse,” Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2016

Breaking down the gender challenge,” McKinsey Quarterly, March 2016

Women in the Workplace,” a study undertaken by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, September 2015

Fostering women leaders: A fitness test for your top team,” McKinsey Quarterly, January 2015


Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs
MA, economic policy

Columbia University (Barnard)
BA, history and political science


March 19, 2023

This Women’s History Month, we’re chatting with McKinsey leaders about their role as women in the workplace and beyond. Today, we’ll hear from Lareina Yee, a senior partner in the Bay Area who advises technology companies on growth and organizational transformation. As a leading expert in gender and diversity, Lareina became the firm’s first diversity and inclusion officer. For more Q&As throughout the month, bookmark this page.

Tell us about a career-defining moment

One of the most significant defining moments was my very first promotion at McKinsey. I was a business analyst, which means that you’re kind of done in two years, and I was having such a great time. The significance of getting the associate promotion meant it felt like I belonged here, and it felt like I could build a career. I was so excited for that. That very first promotion meant a lot to me.

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of being a co-founder of Women in the Workplace. Every year, women I don’t know will come up to me and say, “Thank you. Thank you for putting data and facts to my lived experience. Thank you for giving me something I can bring back to my company, in terms of highlighting things that are wrong, but also what could be better.”

For me, the human stories are so powerful—when women come and say, “You know, that specific thing, that microaggression, that happened to me. Thank you for calling it out. Thank you for helping me think through it.” We do Women in the Workplace for women to thrive in their careers, and hearing these stories just makes me more motivated to do the report again the next year.

What’s a big or surprising lesson that you’ve learned as a woman in the workplace?

One of the lessons I’ve learned is the power of vulnerability and hope as a leader. I think I spent my earlier years being so buttoned-up, always wanting to be tough, and have everything organized and well-prepared. What I realized is while those qualities are really important, as a leader, when you show your vulnerability, when you show that you’re worried, or that you fear something, when you share how you feel, it gives permission for everybody else to also share how they feel.

That creates a completely different culture. It takes the culture beyond performance to one that operates as a team, almost as a family. So that’s something that I’ve learned and to be much more comfortable about as I’ve gotten older. Also as a leader, remember to always give your teams hope. Vulnerability and hope would be two things that I have learned over time.

How do you stay energised?

I don’t think it’s surprising that women are burning out at record rates. I, myself, have three children. The oldest one is 20, and the middle one’s in high school, and the little one is eight. The juggle between home and work are significant things that happen each day. What I try and do is carve out restorative time. I have my introvert come out and get that time to think, reflect, and recoup. That can be exercise, dance, running, taking a walk.

The other thing I do is I call my friends. That also makes a huge difference, just being able to talk through something and to have that sense of human connection. But I don’t think getting that restorative time and avoiding burnout is easy. It’s a lifelong project to get it right.

What advice do you have for women in their professional journeys?

The advice I would give younger women is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. And there are two things that are helpful in the journey: having a bit dose of grit and resilience. It’s not all roses on the way up, and we talk about this in Women in the Workplace. There are a lot of challenges.

And, by the way, both men and women face these challenges. Having that sense of the ability to get something wrong, and get back up, the ability to work through challenges, that’s a huge piece of how you make it in the professional world. That inner capacity to get up again, try, keep learning– that is really, really essential. And that will fare you well for that long marathon.