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Court's women inspiring each other

Court's women inspiring each other

8 March 2024

Two women who work for the UK Supreme Court have teamed up as part of a Reverse Mentoring programme to support and encourage each other.

Vicky and Jade
Vicky Fox and Jade Akinyele

The Court's Chief Executive, Vicky Fox, has regular mentoring sessions with Jade Akinyele who is currently working as a Registry Support Officer during her university course's year in industry.

"I've never mentored or been mentored before" Jade said, "I thought mentoring someone senior to me might be a bit awkward, I have never had an opportunity to speak to someone in a senior position in a personal way, but I also knew I would be able to learn and teach in a safe environment."

Vicky and Jade are 1 of 4 pairs who are mentoring each other at the Court. Reverse Mentoring is the opposite to traditional mentoring, it involves a less senior member of staff mentoring the more senior member of the pair.

When asked why she wanted to get involved Vicky explained: "I think it's really important as a leader to be curious and to keep learning. Being mentored helps me understand experiences and barriers that are different to my own.

"It's only with that understanding that I can make a real difference in building a more equitable and inclusive organisation. Equally, I hope that offering some of my own experiences will help my mentor to progress in their career."

This year's theme for International Women's Day is 'Inspiring Inclusion'. Reflecting on this year's theme, Vicky, who became Chief Executive in 2020 and heads up the Court's majority female Executive Team, said: "Role models can have a profound influence over us. Most people don't attempt to achieve something unless they believe it can be done and if they've seen that someone like them can do it.

"It is important for everyone, men and women, to support their colleagues in meetings, making sure that everyone has an equal voice and gets equal recognition for their contribution."

"I am lucky to see lots of women in leadership roles, I don't take the privilege for granted" Jade concluded, "conversations flow easily when you're talking about something you're passionate about, I am learning a lot and I know my suggestions are being taken onboard."

The UK Supreme Court set up their Reverse Mentoring scheme in 2022. This type of mentoring aims to help people in senior positions learn from the perspective of people in less senior roles, who might also be from an under-represented group.

The key role of the mentor (more junior member of staff) is to provide an insight into the difficulties and barriers they may have faced in life and during their career. This gives the senior leader (as the mentee) an opportunity to learn from and understand their perspective.

As a result, they can adapt their leadership approach to ensure they are more inclusive and appreciative of the diversity of their workforce. The member of staff from the less senior grade also got the opportunity to engage constructively with a senior member of staff.

International Women's Day is celebrated on Friday 8th March 2024. This year's theme asks us to consider how we can inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion and when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.