Looking back at 2020: A WeAreTheCity round-up

WeAreTheCity & WeAreTechWomen - Looking back at 2020

2020 is nearly over and to celebrate the year gone by, WeAreTheCity is taking a look back at our top moments.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year we had to adapt and innovate to host some of events, conferences and awards virtually. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without our supporters. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us this year. A huge thank you to our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community. We look forward to supporting you and your progression in 2021.

Check out what happened during our 2020 below:


WeAreTheCity kicked off the year with a bang – announcing our 2020 Rising Star Awards.

In its sixth year, the Rising Stars Awards are the first to focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level. Our strategic goal, set in 2015, aims to showcase 1,000 outstanding women by 2022. By highlighting the accolades of these women, WeAreTheCity are not only promoting the amazing female talent that exists across the UK, but actively encouraging organisations and business leaders to invest in and recognise these women as leaders of tomorrow and individual contributors to their respective industries.

The awards recognised and celebrated a further 100 female individual contributors across 25 different industries that represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow. The winners joined our award’s alumni of 550 previous winners, across the UK and India.

Alongside the usual categories, this year, we also introduced a Men for Gender Balance category. This category is for men who are championing women and gender balance either inside or outside their organisation.


In February, we held our first Gender Networks meeting of the year.

The Q1 2020 Gender Networks meeting was kindly hosted by EY, where we were joined by representatives from over 50 member companies.

The meeting kicked off with a network update from Vanessa Vallely OBE, Founder/Chair of Gender Networks and WeAreTheCity and we also heard from the amazing June Sarpong OBE, Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, Presenter and award-winning author.

WeAreVirtual, Lauren Paton, 800x600


The COVID-19 virus has, and will no doubt continue to have a significant impact in terms of how we all continue to work.

In the light of these challenges, we have had to adapt and innovate in order to find our new normal. This may have meant working from home, eliminating travel, managing work and family as well as learning how to continue to operate, albeit in a virtual world.

As a direct influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, WeAreTheCity launched WeAreVirtual in March, to offer our support to keep you engaged and inspired over the coming months.

WeAreVirtual offered free weekly skills webinars. This ‘pay it forward’ initiative has been kindly supported and shaped by over 45 amazing speakers and companies, who have all pledged to share their expertise.

Thanks to our speakers, we have and will cover a myriad of topics relating to both work and life. You can watch our previous webinars on playback or discover our upcoming ones here.

We also celebrated International Women’s Day on 08 March.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8, with the first day being held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

This year’s theme was #EachForEqual – which looked to celebrate women’s achievements, to raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality.

RS B&W Banner featured


In May, we announced our 2020 Rising Star winners!

The list of winners showcases remarkable women within the UK from across 20 categories representing different industries and professions. Those highlighted include Joanna Monck, a Stonewall Schools Role Model and National Diversity Mentor, who works voluntarily as a hate crime ambassador for Sussex Police; Anuradha Damale, UK Director  of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, an organisation set up to advance the leadership and professional development of women in colour in the fields of international peace; Catherine Cobb, who lost her left leg to bone cancer when she was seven, but realised her dream of becoming an engineer; and Dr Larisa Corda, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and is ITV This Morning’s and Channel Mum’s Fertility Expert.

The awards also included a Company of the Year prize, awarded to M&G, a leader in the provision of retirement income, savings and investments, managing investments for both individuals and for large institutional investors.

The awards also recognised five Rising Star Champions, who are actively supporting the progression of women in the workplace. These include Ana Perez, Senior Director at Oracle UK & Ireland, who leads Oracle’s Women’s Network (OWL) and is also a trustee and company secretary for women’s charity, Smart Works; and Lindsay Law, a visible and vocal champion of women, who is the Co-Chair of RBS/NatWest’s Women’s Network, Chair of the board of Connect and a Board Member of Scottish Women’s Aid.

New for this year, WeAreTheCity announced their Men for Gender Balance winners, including Philip Baldwin, a human rights activist and writer, who focuses on equalities issues, homelessness, asylum and faith inclusion; and Danny Pallett, Co-Founder of Badass.Gal, a platform that exists to elevate, celebrate and up-skill young female creative talent.


In July, we celebrated our Rising Star winners at a virtual award’s ceremony.

Given the circumstances, the team at WeAreTheCity had to do things a little differently with the Rising Star Awards this year. The event was attended by winners, judges, sponsors and special guests and our winners had the opportunity to network with each other in our interactive breakout rooms. Each winner received a goodie box with their award, complete with champagne, chocolates, books and other treats.

The virtual award’s ceremony was hosted by Julia Streets, CEO, Streets Consulting. Throughout the evening, guests were entertained by comedian and actress, Sally Phillips; singer-songwriter, Antigoni and Southend Vox Choir.


In September, we celebrated 12 years of WeAreTheCity.

WeAreTheCity was founded in 2008 to help women progress and excel in their careers. Through our websites, events and social channels, we provide easy access to career related resources, networks, jobs and development opportunities.

Over the past 12 years, we have run over 85 events, including two annual conferences – WeAreFutureLeaders and WeAreTechWomen; established a network directory of over 350 women’s networks; expanded WeAreTechWomen to its own dedicated site; ran a number of Careers Club events; hosted quarterly Gender Networks meetings; and promoted thousands of jobs – and that’s just for starters.

We have also launched two awards – Rising Stars and TechWomen100. The Rising Star Awards, now in their sixth year, are the first to focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level and to support its winners through on-going learning and networking opportunities long after the awards process has concluded. Like the Rising Star Awards, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women working in technology.

In 2015, WeAreTheCity set a strategic objective of promoting the achievements and supporting the careers of 1000 women through these awards by 2025 – a target we a fast on the way to breaking!

WeAreTheCity are firm believers in social responsibility and paying it forward. Over the years, we have sponsored a number of charitable programmes and initiatives both in the UK and abroad. As well as our charitable giving, we gift a percentage of our conference tickets to returners, students and charities. We also regularly feature key charities, social enterprises and schools, where our members can give back to their local communities.

Through our website, we have created a incredible portfolio of inspiring career-related and female-centric content of over 10,000 articles. We provide a comprehensive directory of women’s networks and business support groups. Alongside promoting these networks, we also have a calendar of female-orientated events where our members can enhance their networks and grow their skills.

Black History Month Featured Image


In October, WeAreTheCity marked Black History Month.

Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987. It was setup and organised by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who then served as a coordinator of projects for the Greater London Council and created a collaboration to get it underway. It was first celebrated in London and has become a national institution ever since.

At WeAreTheCity, we believe in equality for all and will continue to help increase representation of the BAME community and share a variety of voices and opinions – and never has it been more important.

Over the month, we interviewed some amazing Black women and men; featured events and networking groups across a variety of industries; and showcased resources designed to educate and understand.


November saw us celebrate and raise awareness of International Men’s Day.

International Men’s Day is celebrated around the world on 19th November.

This year, the theme of International Men’s Day is men’s health and wellbeing and promoting a positive conversation about men and masculinity. The aim is to help address some of the issues that affect men and boys today, such as high male suicide rate, men’s health, male victims of violence and the negative portrayal of men.

IMD in the UK takes a gender inclusive approach and therefore believes in ensuring that issues affecting women and girls are also resolved. It also recognises the intersection between gender and other factors such as race and sexuality which can compound the inequalities affecting men and boys.

Here at WeAreTheCity, we showcased events, covering news and continued to shine a spotlight on the issues of wellbeing, equality and diversity.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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