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Executive leader Sam Mostyn AO has issued a challenge to workplaces to “rapidly” increase the numbers of women in leadership during a sell-out International Women’s Day (IWD) event at the Law Society of NSW.

The breakfast was the first member event held at the Law Society of NSW headquarters in Phillip Street since an International Women’s Day event exactly one year earlier, just before pandemic shutdowns.

The highlight of the breakfast was an illuminating conversation between Mostyn and Law Society CEO Sonja Stewart, with both women noting the timing of the event; coming one day after tens of thousands of women took to streets across Australia’s capital cities and outside Parliament House in Canberra for the March4Justice. 

Mostyn noted the 2021 theme of IWD – “choose to challenge” – highlights “the notion of still having to challenge” for equality for women in leadership positions.

“Hoping, wishing and praying for women to get into leadership positions just hasn’t worked,” Mostyn told the audience. “My challenge is we just have to work more rapidly to get women into leadership positions.” 

Stewart and Mostyn are the current and immediate past chairs of the board of the Goodes O’Loughlin Foundation, with Mostyn stepping down to make way for the leadership of Stewart, who is also the Law Society’s first female and first Indigenous CEO.

A supporter of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Mostyn said, “I want to stand with Sonja and other Indigenous people to say we can do better than we are currently doing [regarding constitutional recognition].” 

The pair also discussed how the post-pandemic economic recovery poses “the greatest risk and the greatest opportunity” to change workplace practices that will enable more women to take the helm in leadership roles. 

“Our women are the most educated in the world … that is an extraordinary asset that we are squandering,” Mostyn said. 

In discussing how to ensure IWD events are inclusive for all, Mostyn urged privileged women to understand when “[we] need to get out of the way” and prioritise diversity. 

“We all have to listen,” Mostyn added, emphasising it was a skill she had honed over her career spanning legal and executive positions. 

Finishing the conversation with some rapid-fire questions, Mostyn revealed her first stop once international borders reopen will be Tokyo and her favourite TV shows include Schitt’s Creek and Your Honor.