I attended DiversCity, my first ever experience of a corporate LGBT event, on 10 July 2012. I heard Daisy Reeves, partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner, speak about being herself throughout the partnership track and Stonewall discuss what it meant to be your authentic self at work. Many of the panellists mentioned positive results and experiences following their coming out at work.
That was the first time I had heard that coming out at work was anything other than a ‘challenge’. After DiversCity, I started to think about professional LGBT events a different way – could coming out at work actually be good for my career?
I began my training contract in 2015 with Clifford Chance LLP, the host for last year’s DiversCity. I sat in Insolvency and Restructuring, Debt Capital Markets in the Paris office, Real Estate Finance and finally Litigation with a three month secondment to the Howard League for Penal Reform. In the second year of my training contract I became co-chair of Clifford Chance’s international LGBT network, Arcus and joined the committee of the London Gay Women’s Network (GWN). In December 2016 I was appointed co-chair of the GWN.
The London Gay Women’s Network aims to give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professional women access to career development and networking opportunities in an inclusive and welcoming space, and to support positive change for LGBT women in the workplace. In addition to large events hosted by our corporate allies, we also aim to offer tailored events which are inclusive of the wide range of professions our members are drawn from.
The GWN Committee includes representatives of many organisations including Citi, Deloitte, Freshfields, KPMG, Linklaters and Schroders and of course, Milbank.
The GWN runs monthly networking events in the City and in Canary Wharf, annual Summer and Christmas parties, regular speed-networking events, panel events and skill-development workshops on topics ranging from presentation giving, to building resilience, to demonstrating confidence in the workplace. Usually our events are completely free to attend.
This year the GWN collaborated with Milbank and Huma Qazi, a HR and diversity consultant and coach to run a joint GWN and Milbank event offering GWN members and Milbank staff training on ‘Succeeding with Diverse Teams’. During the session, facilitator Huma Qazi led a conversation with the group on the differences between inherent, acquired and cognitive diversity and how that diversity can help teams better solve problems with greater creativity and innovation.
In the past, the GWN has collaborated with the Institute of Directors to help launch their new LGBT network with a speech by John Bercow, created training delivery opportunities for Trans*formation and partnered with P3 to deliver a panel discussion on alternative routes to parenthood.
I have found the GWN to be an invaluable source of support, advice and friendship especially as a junior professional in a relatively new city. I would encourage anyone interested to come along to one of our events and get to know our members and the committee – if you are coming along to an event and would like a buddy that is something we can help with!
The GWN welcomes women from all sectors, levels and industries and is completely free to join.
To receive our monthly newsletter which contains our event details, follow this link.