Our series to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) continues today with the views of Vicky Sandry, Head of Legal – Regulatory & Competition, Sky and Siobhán Moriarty, General Counsel, DIAGEO plc about the importance of IWD, inspiring change and their experiences as a woman in the profession.

Vicky Sandry, Head of Legal – Regulatory & Competition, Sky

It is International Women’s Day on 8th March – do you think it is important for the legal profession to celebrate IWD?

Absolutely! It is a great opportunity to take a step back and look at all the progress being made in increasing the number of women holding senior positions in the law, particularly whilst working on a flexible or part-time basis. It is true that there is still much to be done, but all over the legal profession people are serious about making changes that help women to progress.

At Sky we will celebrate by showcasing female led content across our channels including Sky Sports and Sky Atlantic, as well as running a live streamed event for staff in partnership with everywomanNetwork.

The theme for this year’s IWD is inspiring change, how do you go about inspiring change through your work as Head of Legal: Regulatory and Competition?

A phrase I often use is “one thing is certain, that change will happen”. I encourage people in my team to think about their long term goals and to be ready for change and embrace opportunities when they arrive. Also, having been working part time for 10 years I regularly mentor other women who are in a similar position of balancing work and family commitments. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from executive coaching and know how helpful it can be to talk to someone else about the challenges you face as a woman in business.

What have been the most significant developments/changes for women pursuing a legal career since you started out?

When I first started working in the law, I knew no women working part-time or flexibly, and that was still the case when I moved from private practice to an in-house role in 2000. Now it is much more normal and within my own team of 18, four women work part-time and a further two team members work from home a day a week.

The catalyst for that change has been slow but over time I think women have proven that working part-time or flexibly can be just as, if not more, efficient that full-time working. With it, I think the long-held perceptions that you are somehow worth less pro-rata if you work flexibly or part-time are also diminishing. There’s been a real shift in thinking about the value experienced people can bring to the workplace.

Which female in the legal profession do you most admire and why?

I wouldn’t pick out a single female but I would say that I admire the four other female Heads of Legal at Sky who all hold senior and challenging roles working part-time. They all have a different approach to performing their roles and they are inspiring as well as a great source of support.

Siobhán Moriarty, General Counsel, DIAGEO plc

It is International Women’s Day on 8th March – do you think it is important for the legal profession to celebrate IWD?

Yes, because frequently the legal profession, in particular the female lawyers, are at the forefront in leading the battle in many countries for equality and female empowerment and pushing to the forefront the changes that are required to enable women to progress in the workplace and society more generally. This also fits very well with this year’s theme for IWD of inspiring change.

The theme for this year’s IWD is inspiring change, how do you go about inspiring change through your work as General Counsel of Diageo plc?

At Diageo we have, in the last year, made great strides in achieving our diversity targets, where a third of our global executive management team is now female. We are planning to lead an initiative, as an executive group, which will be linked with our existing social engagement programmes focused on building skills and female empowerment in the communities where we do business.

What have been the most significant developments/changes for women pursuing a legal career since you started out?

The most significant development is the increasing numbers of women staying in the law, where intake levels at law school are higher than 50%, and this is starting to translate into women being in a greater number of leadership roles in the profession.

In my experience, it appears that progress is more advanced in the in-house profession, where there are more opportunities for flexible working arrangements, and where valuation of contribution is less driven by long work hours.

Which female in the legal profession do you most admire and why?

Mary Robinson, barrister and former law professor, former President of Ireland and human rights activist – for all the “firsts” she has achieved.