G(irls)20 Summit

On the 14th June, girls aged between 18 and 20 will gather in Moscow as delegates for the fourth annual G(irls)20 Summit, an event that brings together representatives from each G20 country, as well as from the European Union and African Union.

Taking place the week before the G20 Leaders’ meeting in St Petersburg, the G(irls)20 Summit gives young women from all over the world the opportunity to look at the G20 agenda through the lens of the economic empowerment of women. Participants will debate, discuss and design innovative ideas to improve the growth of communities, countries and companies by empowering girls and women globally. The participants will then present their ideas to G20 leaders at the end of the Summit via a press conference and communiqué, providing a blueprint on how the G20 leaders can utilise and engage girls and women throughout the world.

The theme of this year’s Summit is Opportunity Gained: Jobs, Growth and Investment & the Role of Technology as an Accelerator of Change. During the Summit delegates will attend a number of workshops to help them develop the skills they will need to make changes happen in their countries and communities. These include workshops delivered by experts on the use of technology, media communications, raising capital and a leadership workshop run by Norton Rose.

The workshop has been specifically developed and tailored for the Summit to provide participants with effective leadership skills, which lie at the heart of economic and social empowerment for change. To date, the participants in the summit have all, in their own way, demonstrated leadership. However, few of them will have been trained to lead.

Research has shown that the most effective leaders are those with good self awareness. As a result, much of what we do during the training is orientated towards giving the participants a clearer sense of who they are as people and the implications of their style and approach for the leadership roles they already have, or will take on in the future.

The training takes the form of a multimedia workshop, specifically developed to further the participants’ understanding of what it means to be a leader and the skills necessary for effective leadership. The workshop covers the qualities of inspiring leaders, what the best leaders do and how they do it. We will also look at the results of the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (personality assessment tool) which provides information on each girl’s personality and discuss the implications for their roles as leaders. We run similar training for our lawyers. Where this workshop differs is that participants at the Summit do not yet have substantive work experience to draw on. Instead, we draw comparisons with the types of organisations and agencies, for example non-government organisations, which participants have set up or volunteer for.

The delegates aspire to a range of careers, law being just one, and are passionate about improving the lives of girls and women in their country. To be in a position to provide G20 leaders with advice, the participants need a variety of skills and training which they can continue to apply on their return home.

Norton Rose is one of the founding partners of the G(irls)20 Summit. Other partners include Google, Nike Foundation, The NOVO Foundation, Caterpillar, Kinross and the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation. Norton Rose is the only legal practice to be involved with this initiative. The legal profession has a key role to play in supporting diversity and inclusion. Our role in the G(irls)20 Summit is an important way for us to equip girls and women from the G20 countries with the skills they need to achieve their ambitions, and to enable them make a difference in their local communities.

Historically, the legal profession has not had a great track record in building a diverse workforce. However, we, like other firms, are actively working to change this. Policy making and implementation lie at the heart of this. In recent years we have addressed diversity head on and have made good progress in the area of women’s progression to partnership. Nearly half of our partner promotions over the past three years have been women. In 2009 12 per cent of our partners in London were women; today this figure stands at 21 per cent, so while we still have some way to go we are making headway.

We will only achieve our goal of a more gender balanced partnership if we train men and women in areas like anti-bias and embrace flexible working and sponsorship: managers putting women forward for key projects which build their skills and get them noticed as talent which in turn leads to promotion. Our ambitions for our women need to be high and we are working hard to create a culture where female lawyers believe and experience as a reality that the legal profession is one where they can reach their full potential, and where the most senior roles are open to them.

The right training and development strategies are needed both for young female lawyers and for the wider legal community, to give everyone the tools needed to address the issues of diversity and inclusion.

As a result of the past three Summits, 27 initiatives put forward by the delegates have been put into action. We believe our involvement in the G(irls)20 Summit and the time spent on developing the leadership capabilities of participants will better equip them to act as role models and catalysts for change for the legal profession and beyond.

Carolann Edwards is Director of Learning and Organisational Development at Norton Rose.

Norton Rose is supporting the G(irls)20 Summit, which brings together one girl, aged 18-20 from each G20 country to look at the G20 Leaders agenda through the lens of the economic empowerment of girls and women.