Dr Funke Abimbola MBE

Dr Funke Abimbola is a global diversity champion. In March 2019, she was appointed as a Champion for Action as part of Grant Thornton International’s global diversity campaign, challenging gender-based barriers to career progression including recruitment bias. As part of the Law Society’s Women in Law Group, she contributed to the success of the largest ever international survey of its kind, resulting in the Law Society’s ‘Influencing for impact’ report with practical recommendations for increasing gender diversity across the global legal profession. We asked Funke about her views on the profession and the legal industry.

Describe an experience when someone has held you back - what should they have done differently?

When I was looking to enter the legal profession 20 years ago, a recruiter told me that my choice of corporate law would be "too competitive for a black woman". I was advised to consider other areas of practice instead. This did not hold me back but was hugely discouraging at the time. What the recruiter should have done differently was reviewed my CV on its merits and think of how best to position me as a candidate for entry-level corporate law roles. Thankfully, I was able to qualify as a corporate lawyer despite this feedback.

Name a public or professional figure you believe is making a major contribution to the diversity and inclusion agenda.

David Lammy (MP for Tottenham) is arguably the most outspoken when it comes to issues concerning race and social mobility. I contributed towards his independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system. I have seen his consistent contributions towards improving outcomes for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and have also seen, first hand, that this has often come at significant personal cost. David is a great example of courageous leadership in this space.

Is there an awards category that intrigues you most? Why?

Male diversity champion of the year. I have been so impressed with the number of male champions within the legal profession. Allies are essential to improving diversity and should be encouraged as much as possible.

What will you be looking for as a judge in these awards?

I will be looking for exceptional contributions and long-term, sustainable impact that stands out heads and shoulders above the rest.

The deadline for entries is at 5pm on Friday 28 February 2020 .