Sara Wakili

Senior AML Officer in our Compliance team tells us about what Break the Bias means to her and the challenges faced by women

What does Break the Bias mean to you?

To me, Break the Bias means actively challenging and dismantling the biases and discrimination women face in every aspect of life. First and foremost, this is an opportunity for each of us to look inwards and reflect on our thoughts and beliefs around gender and unlearn harmful gender norms and stereotypes that perpetuate inequality and reinforce discrimination against women. Secondly, it is about taking active steps to end biases against women wherever we see them, whether it’s in our homes, communities, or place of work. 

How can allies help to break the bias (or any specific form of bias)?

Allies can help by listening to understand the lived experiences of women and how biases make it challenging for women to progress. And, to work alongside women to reach practical solutions to challenging and ending these biases and effectively remove barriers to women’s success. An easy starting point is to join the gender equality network within your organisation and attend network events, sponsor initiatives, and meaningfully engage with the dialogue.  

What one piece of advice would you give a woman entering the legal sector?

Expand and diversify your personal and professional network. Establish and build genuine connections with mentors, sponsors, and friends who understand, support, and guide you in your journey to achieving your goals. It’s also important not to limit your network to women only. During my career, some of my biggest sponsors have been men - true allies who have actively empowered and supported me whilst I navigated my career. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women?

Gender stereotyping remains the biggest challenge women face and is the root cause of most biases and discrimination against women in the workplace and outside of work. Common examples include the penalisation of assertive women as unlikable, unkind and non-communal whilst misjudging a woman who may fit the gender stereotype of women as caring and gentle, to not be fit for leadership.  

Who would you say is your role model?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) - she is the epitome of resilience and strength for me and a warrior for women’s rights. Despite facing numerous obstacles, barriers, and adversity, RBG persevered to fulfil her ambitions and fought tirelessly and selflessly for justice and equality.