“Women are standing up saying this isn’t acceptable”: Denise Wilson White OBE talks gender equality and women on boards | Gender Networks Breakfast Meeting

“Women are standing up saying this isn’t acceptable and I am hopeful,” says Denise Wilson White OBE, Chief Executive, Davies Review, Women on Boards.

Speaking at the Q1 Gender Networks breakfast meeting, White gave an overview of the Hampton Alexander report and spoke about gender equality and encouraging more women on boards.

She said, “This is a journey that we are partly through and we have been on a remarkable journey in the UK, in terms of gender equality.”

“We are hugely admired on what we have achieved voluntarily in the UK, but that’s not to say that more isn’t needed to do.”

“I don’t want to make it seem like all we have achieved was easy – but we did achieve our target six months ahead of schedule.”

“I remember for many years when it was a corridor conversation and I hope that all of you feel comfortable talking about this with your peers and colleagues.”

“Many companies are doing great, great things, some are not. But what we are doing in the UK is working. You might think it’s slow, but if you look back five or six years, the progress we have made is phenomenal.”

“But we need to make sure that we keep the progress going.”

Over 80 network leaders, chairs, co-chairs and D&I leads came together at the meeting on Tuesday (7 February), hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright, London. Breakfast refreshments were provided, as well as a chance to network; hear a round up of all the latest news stories, presented by journalist, Harriet Minter; and discuss network hacks.

networking at the gender networks meeting

Opening the meeting, Vanessa Vallely, founder and co-chair of Gender Networks, thanked Norton Rose Fulbright for hosting and welcomed new members to the group, including HSBC, Chubb, Deutsche Bank, Citi and BT.

The session started with speed networking, with Vallely imploring into delegates that, “the doors of opportunity won’t open if you don’t get out of your comfort zone.”

Delegates were also treated to an insight to the Women of the World (WOW) Festival with Jude Kelly OBE, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre.

The WOW festival champions gender equality, celebrates the achievements of women and girls everywhere and examines the obstacles that keep them from fulfilling their potential.

Jude Kelly

Kelly, speaking to the audience, said, ““We have to break that barrier and glass ceilings all around.”

“I wanted WOW to be a celebration of all women, all girls, all men and all boys who want gender equality.”

“I thought, we must start something to show how much women have achieved.”

“What I didn’t recognise was that it would become a global movement.”

This quarter’s network spotlight fell on the Women in Norton Rose Fulbright network, with co-chair Julie Keefe detailing how the group came about and what their objectives were.

Throughout the years, the network has organised a number of both internal and external events including Tennis on the Terrace, talks from distinguished speakers, coffee randomisers and a talk from Linda Addison, Immediate Past Managing Partner at Norton Rose.

Gender Networks brings together gender employee network leaders, chairs, co-chairs and D&I leads from a broad range of industries and sectors.

Gender Networks was originally launched in 2009 as The Network of Networks (TNON) by current co-chair Vanessa Valley alongside senior individuals from Bank of New York Mellon and Morgan Stanley. The aim was to create an informal networking forum to share challenges and opportunities as well as leverage peer-to-peer support to enable network success and growth.

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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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