Flaming June it has turned out to be - but this has not stopped the City, nor me, in the many activities that mark the midpoint of the year and the Summer Solstice.
As a woman in a predominantly (still) man’s world I can get labelled around the diversity issue and, whilst I have achieved so many firsts or even seconds as a woman in my career (first woman partner at my law firm and second woman Alderman), there is still a lot to do to encourage the widest of diversity in our work and provide opportunities. I was therefore pleased to attend the Air Pilots Livery Dinner and find not only a female headline speaker but also a significant number of senior women pilots. The speaker was Angela Stubblefield from the Federal Aviation Administration and I was also delighted to meet the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Kerissa Khan and CEO of Wizz Air Marion Geoffrey. If they cannot move the aviation world forward no one will.
This idea had a lot of resonance in the City Corporation’s new flagship initiative called The City Belonging Project. https://belongingproject.city/ Launched at the Conservatory in the Barbican Centre, the City wants to connect and improve the links between the diversity networks in the City and its businesses which must help everyone feel part of this great City that I love.
Another programme that has been around for a few years now is City Giving Day. https://www.thelordmayorsappeal.org/news-and-events/events-calendar/1089/city-giving-day-2022/ I was pleased to host and speak at the breakfast in Mansion House that is part of the regular links with existing and new businesses who are encouraged to sign up to participate. September 26th marks the day when businesses (including Liveries and other organisations) can celebrate their philanthropic work - be it fund raising or volunteering, such as mentoring and pro bono advice.
The City businesses are always a big focus for me and I have made many visits in the recent weeks. CIBC, a Canadian Bank are based in Cheapside, but I also visited them in Toronto last year with the Lord Mayor. They were holding their annual reception in the Guildhall and I was pleased to speak and welcome them and, indeed, thank them for their amazing innovative work around sustainability. Please to engage with their CEO, Wayne Lee, and meet their President, Victor Dodig.
As you will know that my passion is to create a green and sustainable City and I have been gradually growing the Livery Climate Action Group over the last 18 months. There is a great core of Livery colleagues helping and we now have 85 Livery Companies who are members and working towards a net zero square mile. More details are here on the website https://liverycag.org.uk/ We are holding an in person conference on 3rd July with further events and information online. It was aligned to this that I represented the City Corporation at the launch of their Solar Farm and have written a separate blog about this https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/visit-to-a-greener-future.
The last week of June saw London Climate Action Week and many events all over Greater London. The City scooped the pool with two amazing conferences. See my separate blog https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/london-climate-action-week-2023
It is fascinating how environmental issues are such a thread of interest and importance. I am part of the City’s Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce that will be launching its report soon and are now working on how green skills in the construction industry can and need to be enhanced in order to meet the expertise needed to create environmentally sustainable buildings. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/Business/skills-for-a-sustainable-skyline-brochure.pdf
I co-chair the group looking at policy issues and the need to influence decisions. Thus, I was pleased to attend the City’s’ Parliamentary reception on the terrace at Westminster and meet several MPs and Lords who were interested in the City’s stance on such matters. Our City MP Nickie Aiken chaired the event. A second reception on the Terrace with BusinessLDN drew a different crowd and a chance to catch up with the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Ken Olisa.
I also engage with a variety of Ambassadors to the UK as they are key links to the important overseas markets of our financial City. Following a lunch with the Mexican ambassador I was delighted to then receive an invite on board ARM Cuauhtemoc, a tall sailing ship that is the flagship of the Mexican navy and in dock at West India Quay. Very excellent Mexican food and music followed with some great Mexican weather. Its near neighbour the USA celebrated Independence Day a bit early with some wonderful fireworks and fun at Winfield House in Regents Park.
Earlier this year we celebrated 600 years since the death of Dick Whittington and on 27th June we remembered 300 years from the death of Sir Christopher Wren. A polymath who was professionally a surveyor but also acted as architect, mathematician, astronomer and scientist. The Surveyors and Architects’ Liveries led the celebration in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. We were told the story of a man who shaped his age in the 17th century and still shapes the landscape in the 21st.