Director of Responsible Business, Slaughter and May
Western Europe and North America
Embracing the superhero within: Becoming an SDG Pioneer is like becoming a sustainability superhero, fighting to make our world greener and fairer. What's your special power for this mission?
I find that most people would welcome the opportunity to contribute to a greener and fairer world through their jobs, and this is the key energy I can tap into. My strengths are to lead with purpose and to engage stakeholders positively with a solutions-based mindset. There are challenges in aligning business and societal agendas, and it is critical to make the business opportunity clear to motivate others to act, take responsibility and collaborate.
Origin story: Please briefly describe your journey towards becoming an SDG Pioneer.
I grew up in Scotland as a Muslim and witnessed the impact of poverty and inequality in the UK and in South Asia, which marked me profoundly. I studied these themes at university and started my career working on strategy and human rights with senior leaders committed to using business as a force for good. I’ve since developed more than 20 years of expertise as a responsible business professional, holding roles at KPMG, HSBC and Slaughter and May.
Turning passion into purpose: Your SDG Pioneer recognition shines a spotlight on your incredible work. Please explain the work for which you are being recognized as an SDG Pioneer and how your interest in this field developed.
I believe businesses should not only minimise their negative impacts but proactively create positive impact and link this to business opportunities. I have worked over many years to make our firm a leader in the sector, setting ambitious targets and establishing a robust SDG integration programme. My work includes facilitating change and transformation within my firm and beyond my sector to tackle complex problems that the SDGs seek to overcome.
Every epic tale has its share of challenges: Please share some challenges and battles you've encountered while pursuing your SDG ambitions.
Our SDG journey involved building capacity, mapping impacts, strategic prioritisation, setting and measuring targets, and identifying local actions and innovation for global implementation. As such it was a firm-wide effort, and that comes with its own battles. Conflicting business priorities and a lack of clear understanding as to how global problems can be tackled locally are part of this. We have made good progress, but there are ongoing challenges to be consistent in our ambition across our priority SDGs and to approach it as a whole business proposition.
Accomplishments: As part of your SDG journey, what stands out as the most rewarding? Please describe a moment that made you feel like you were unlocking a new level of impact.
I spearheaded a collaboration with seven other firms to launch the first cross-firm collective to tackle the underrepresentation of ethnic minority groups in the UK’s legal sector. Legal CORE is now formed by 36 law firms, and it has been really rewarding to see how C-suite leader engagement and grassroots momentum can create a much-needed paradigm shift within the sector. Coupled with our recent announcement as the first major firm to set social mobility targets, I am really pleased that we are moving the dial on inequalities.
Next chapters: What’s next in your career and journey? Please give us a sneak peek!
I am leading the development of a reporting framework with interconnected KPIs to support the integration of SDGs into the business. This ensures that we focus our energy and resources and integrate them as a business-as-usual activity. This is only the start – we must keep raising the bar to continuously improve our impact on society, the environment and the economy.