On 1st October, fittingly tying in with the start of the new legal year, Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, hosted a breakfast to celebrate the role of Women in Law. The event took place within Mansion House, and Obelisk’s CEO Dana Denis-Smith was invited to talk about the First 100 Years campaign, alongside keynote speaker Fiona Woolf and Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. All three speakers were united in their support of women in the legal profession, and guests were invited to share their ideas on how to most effectively level the gender playing field in the work place.
In the spectacularly ornate setting of Mansion House’s old ballroom, the event brought together many eminent member of the profession, both male and female, all enthusiastic to share ideas on how they could become champions for diversity. Fiona Woolf, only the second female Lord Mayor in a succession of 686, highlighted the disparity between the number of women entering the law and the disproportionately small number of women reaching the very top of the profession. The consensus was that more must be done in order to help women ascend: it is just good sense. Speaking from Obelisk’s table, Sandie Okoro – General Counsel for HSBC Asset Management – spoke of her radical decision to implement a desk-sharing policy within her team, making remote and flexible work compulsory for all of her workforce, and thus removing the stigmatisation associated with the (often female) requirement for flexibility.
Speaking on the First 100 Years, Dana emphasised the twofold aim of the project: to make people become aware of, and then to properly acknowledge, the contribution of women to the legal profession. She spoke of the necessity to commemorate and celebrate those whose contributions to the profession in the last 100 years might otherwise be forgotten. Highlighting the need to acknowledge our past in order to inform our future, Dana announced the project’s aim to commission the construction of a monument to the professional working woman, to be placed within the city of London to mark the culmination of the project.