Review: UK Diversity Legal Awards 2016 & Dinner at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London – 22 November 2016

On a crisp November evening over 250 hundred guests representing a cross section of firms, chambers and legal industry bodies turned out in their finery to recognise and celebrate those seeking to promote diversity across the legal profession.

These awards were presented by the BBC News presenter and correspondent, Reeta Chakrabarti. Now in their 7 th year, these are the only industry awards that focus solely on recognising and promoting, equality, diversity and inclusion across the legal profession. It is a testament how these awards are viewed that a message of support was sent by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Congratulations to all of the finalists, highly commended and winners, whose details can be found below.

During the ceremony moving speeches were given by the Awards’ Charity Partner – African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust’s co-founders: Beverley De-Gale OBE and Orin Lewis OBE about the life saving work their charity does to help all those affected by leukaemia.

The BSN Lifetime Achievement Award this year went to Dr Sandie Okoro. Currently General Counsel of HSBC Global Asset Management but who will soon be moving to work for the World Bank. Accepting the award in a sparkly gold dress Dr Okoro gave an inspirational and, at times, emotional speech during which she recalled a teacher saying to her “black girls from Balham never go anywhere”. She was also advised to change her surname as “it is ethnic sounding. You’re not going to get anywhere in the City with a surname sounding like that”. However, she ignored them and said that in order to succeed people needed to be “their authentic self”. She has had a very successful career in the City working at: Schroders, Barings and HSBC. Towards the end of her speech she said that, “we all need to continue with the initiatives taking place to improve diversity in the profession and to ‘shout out’ racism when we see it”.

An enjoyable and inspiring evening concluded with guests networking and some shaking off their lawyerly reserve by getting down on the dance floor. Roll on for the 2017 awards!!

Paul McFarlane

Partner, Weightmans and BSN Director