In the year of high profile women's movement campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up, gender equality has certainly been on the centre stage in the mainstream media. InterLaw Diversity Forum spoke to several women lawyers and allies to find out whether these campaigns are making a real impact in the workplace. In the first in our series, we speak to Lorna Gavin, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility, Gowling WLG.
Do you think high profile gender equality campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up will help progress gender equality conversations in the workplace?
LG: Definitely. I think complacency is a huge barrier to achieving genuine gender equality. Poor practices that have gone on for generations have been hidden away, as an open secret or otherwise, for too long, and what's been missing has been a sense of empowerment for people to speak up. Shining the spotlight on these behaviours, whether in the film industry or any other sector, makes us all reflect on what women have been experiencing. Once you know it's happening, you've got to act.
What can gender equality allies do to help advance women in the workplace?
LG: I'm a huge believer in the role of allies when it comes to gender (or indeed any other underrepresented group). Having someone of a different gender spell out why it benefits everyone in the workplace for there to be a balanced representation at the top, removes any suggestion that might lurk in the mind of a cynic that this is 'just women looking out for their own.' There are countless Harvard and other academic studies that show the business benefits of diverse teams and perhaps having a man saying 'this is good for us too' might reach a different audience. And I 'm a big fan of the whole #HeforShe movement – Emma Watson's He for She speech at the United Nations is definitely worth googling.
What are you/Gowling WLG doing to celebrate International Women's Day?
LG: In a break from the last few years' practice of having an inspiring speaker in , we're running a training session, open to everyone, on the topic of personal power and influence, which links in well to the #pressforprogress theme. We're also distributing #pressforprogress selfie cards across all our offices globally, for people to take photos with to use this via social media to give a visual representation of people's commitments for gender equality.
Keep up with Lorna and Gowling WLG's International Women's Day activities HERE.