I recently attended the launch event for Women in Law London (WILL) with my two colleagues, fellow employment lawyers, Claire Dawson and Paula Chan.
WILL is a network aimed at women lawyers at pre-partnership level, both in private practice and in-house. The network aims to mentor, promote and engage primarily with female junior lawyers to support them in seeking promotion. It was incredibly inspiring to see such a large number of female lawyers coming together to support the launch of this network on 17 October. It was also great fun!
This wasn’t your average evening networking event where you turn up, mingle with other professionals and give out business cards. It was clear that the organisers had put a lot of care and attention into every detail of the event; from the influential female speakers down to the goodie bags.
I was impressed to hear the key note speech delivered by the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf CBE. It was really interesting to hear about her journey to becoming the second female Lord Mayor of London in 800 years. She is the 686th Lord Mayor of London and was the first woman partner at CMS Cameron McKenna.
Her speech was inspiring and also informative. It highlighted the fact that there is still a lack of diversity and inclusion in UK companies particularly in the City of London.
There is a concern that the issue of diversity and inclusion has become nothing more than a tick-box exercise for management; something which is discussed but no action taken to really implement change. The Lord Mayor encouraged all the women at the event to “say yes” when opportunities present themselves.
Our society contains an increasingly diverse talent pool and City firms should be able to draw the best talent from this pool. At present, companies do not always do this. The City at all levels of management needs to maximise the potential that diversity can bring to a business. Whilst some progress has been made over the last ten years, there is still much work to be done.
In the future, I hope to see more women, disabled, ethnic minority and LGBT individuals at partner level, in senior management roles and as owners of companies. In order to create new ideas and energy, firms need to consider a wider and more inclusive talent pool which will facilitate social mobility. Only then can we begin to try and redress the imbalance.
Networks such as WILL will help to encourage businesses to take a positive step in the right direction and consider all the untapped female talent available in the City.
Diversity should be at the forefront of all businesses. It's simply essential!
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