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 fourth blog in our series, we speak to Daniel Winterfeldt, Founder and Chair of InterLaw Diversity Forum and Partner at Reed Smith.
Do you think high profile gender equality campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up will help progress gender equality conversations in the workplace?
DW: Absolutely. We see real change come into play the more voices we hear and through the power they generate. The fact that the entertainment industry, which is so embedded in the lives of people all over the world, is having such an open and public discourse, should definitely help encourage other sectors to speak up. Some sectors, like legal, have some way to go in advancing gender equality but these campaigns give us the perfect opportunity to start discussions from a newsworthy and topical point of view in the workplace. There is a lot of work to be done before we reach full equality.
What can gender equality allies do to help advance women in the workplace?
DW: Allies can do so much - from engaging in initial conversations to taking practical steps to ensuring there is fairness in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women. Be an advocate, a mentor and a sponsor. Attend gender diversity talks and networks and be that ally in the room. I recently attended a gender diversity empowerment event and was the only male in the room! But it was an invaluable experience in terms of sharing stories and advocating for change.
My work around gender and intersectionality is very important to me. Women are the majority in our profession yet struggle with treatment around fairness, pay, and promotions. I was honoured to help launch women's networks at Simmons & Simmons and CMS in my role as the Diversity & Inclusion Partner at those firms. I also recently marched in the Women's March in London and found it a very empowering and rewarding experience. Be visible, show up, speak up & step in!
Who do you admire in the legal profession and who has shaped your career?
DW: There are so many women who have supported my career and inspired me. At CMS we launched the Athena Project in collaboration with photographer Leonora Saunders, taking pictures of senior women in law and at our clients. The inspiring women in these portraits included Fiona Woolf, then Lord Mayor of the City of London and current Patron of the InterLaw Diversity Forum; and Baroness Scotland, now Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. The project was supported by CMS's Senior Partner Penelope Warne. Penelope, Fiona, and Baroness Scotland have been hugely supportive to me personally, have helped shape my career, and have championed the work of the InterLaw Diversity Forum.
What are you doing to celebrate International Women's Day?
DW: I am attending and participating in the 2 day women's events at The Law Society. The InterLaw Diversity Forum has a stall at the Law Society's marketplace so that's exciting! We have some great plans in store for 2018 to support women in the professions so watch this space.