Mariette Lynn Clardy-Davis is an attorney, consultant, creative entrepreneur, mental health advocate, blockchain enthusiast, speaker and trainer. She uses her personal journey of mental illness and autoimmune challenges to connect, empower and serve.
Mariette Lynn Clardy-Davis is the founding attorney of M.L. Clardy Law, LLC. She provides strategic and proactive legal and advisory counsel in the areas of mental health, Web3, and small businesses. Her services include business advisory, Americans with Disabilities counsel and involuntary commitment counsel. Mariette has over 15 years of experience in financial services as a compliance consultant with Securities Compliance Management and a broker and registered principal with select broker-dealer clients.
As a creative entrepreneur, Mariette launched ML Digital Collection. A collection of digital self-care, gratitude and law art pieces. Mariette is also passionate about using her skills and talents to support projects in the Blockchain, NFT, Cryptocurrency, Web3 and DEFI arena. This includes her experience with non-profit startups, and AML/KYC (“Anti-Money Laundering” “Know Your Customer”). Her background gives her a unique lens in the legal and regulatory landscapes of Web3. She is an active participant in a number of DAO’s (“Decentralized Autonomous Assets”) and a supporter of various NFT projects.
When did your passion for issues with mental health and professionals begin?
It started with my own personal journey of being a professional of color with a diagnosis of bi-polar depression. I was diagnosed my senior year of college. When I first entered the financial sector, I quickly realized that mental health challenges were not something you openly shared or were encouraged to share. On the outside, I was doing well but, on the inside, suffered and struggled in silence. I did not see other professionals who openly spoke about mental health. I did not have a guide or even a point of reference besides my own. This pattern continued even through law school and into my law practice.
After a nervous breakdown that landed me in a behavioral healthcare facility, I worked to rebuild and find my journey to stability. I began to share my experiences with other professional women in the financial and legal sectors. I would often have employees, partners, executives, managers, and anyone in between, confide to me about their struggles with mental health challenges and/or burnout. My story was one of the few that they heard that they resonated with, and my openness to share my ups and downs helped others to see that they were not alone.
Why are you focusing on professional women and specifically professional women of color and mental health?
I quickly realized that in the mental health space, professional women with mental health challenges were not a focus and this is amplified when it’s women of color. There was an assumption that working female professionals didn’t have the same severity of challenges. On the outside, they were “highly functioning” so there was a myth that they were more resilient, had stronger coping skills and didn’t let the challenges stand in the way of their success. They were “Ok”. What I have learned through my experience and through speaking with others in the space, is that many professional women hide their challenges, based on the fear that they will be seen differently, discriminated against, targeted and/or fired for mental health. So many professionals learn throughout their careers to suffer in silence, push through and perform. As a woman of color, this is nothing new. Diversity in the financial sector continues to be a challenge and when you add mental health on top of it, it is something that pure DEI initiatives or pure Wellness initiatives struggle with that intersection. In an industry where your job in financial services and finance is to provide solutions to others, many professionals feel that their clients will think that they are “less than” if they struggle.
What are some major challenges that you see with mental health and wellness for women in the financial sector?
As an industry, I believe that we lack associations that encourage and provide resources in this area. For example, as an attorney, I have access to not only the American Bar Associations’ resources for lawyers’ mental health but also other associations that provide resources and information and awareness for the legal profession. I don’t see this happening in the financial sector to the same extent as other licensed professions.
I believe that the financial sector also continues to struggle with employee burnout, which effects employees in the sector both personally and professionally by reducing performance, overall career happiness, as well as health risks, substance abuse and mental health challenges. Because the financial sector is a mix of a helping profession and a technical profession, the focus on perfection, deal closings, commissions, fees, client acquisition and retention and risk management exacerbate the problem.
Finally, another challenge is creating a safe space for those in the sector to feel comfortable with sharing their challenges openly without fear of reprisals from management and the company. What I have learned through conversations with those in the industry is that they don’t feel comfortable speaking openly about it, this even includes leaders who are afraid. When I meet with leaders, I encourage them to lead by sharing their own stories, which in turn will create an atmosphere where others may feel that they can share.
How are you “changing the room”?
I’m being the change in the space that I so desperately needed many years ago along my journey to stability. This sector is forever changing and evolving, and I want to keep employee wellness and mental health at the forefront through it all. It matters to so many of those who are in our industry that suffer in silence but on the outside are powerhouses in the financial sector. So, I will continue to be the voice for professional women who have not yet felt safe to share their own.