Obelisk Support has been named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2015, which recognises the most inspiring companies leading on gender equality in the workplace in Britain.
London-based Obelisk provides professional outsourcing to major law firms and in-house teams. The concept behind the business is to re-engage highly skilled lawyers who leave the profession to raise families. From the 850 lawyers on Obelisk’s books, 96% are mothers. Through Obelisk, lawyer parents choose the hours they want to work, giving them the flexibility they need to combine careers with family life.
Obelisk was formed in 2010 by Dana Denis-Smith, a former Linklaters lawyer who started her own family four years ago. Responding to today’s announcement, Dana said: “I am delighted and so proud that Obelisk has been named as one of the top employers for women in the UK. I’m proud of the concept and the company we have created, proud of the Obelisk team and proud of the clients and consultants that we work with each day. Obelisk is a company built on values. We have a purpose beyond just running a business and making money. Obelisk is here to help bring positive change for women in the workplace, so to have our work and our values recognised by The Times newspaper feels very special.”
All the companies listed in the Top 50 have demonstrated that gender equality is a key part of their business strategy, with consistent commitment to progressing women in the workplace that covers their entire organisation, not just isolated areas. Having spotted that the legal profession was developing a “lost generation” of highly-trained female lawyers as a result of unfair policies and opinions around mothers returning to work, Dana created a new concept in professional outsourcing, driven by technology.
Dana said: “At Obelisk we let our lawyers choose the hours they want to work. The core team in London acts as a sales force and project manager for the work from clients, which it then allocates to our lawyers according to their reported capacity. By eliminating “time” and “space” constraints from how our talent pool works, parents with child-driven schedules are empowered to work. I knew this innovation would offer a reliable and cost effective service to legal industry clients.”
“My ultimate aim is to prove through the company that fully flexible working can actually work in the law and to inject a dose of realism into the profession. Most people in the upper reaches of the profession are aware of the talent drain, and understand that family, rather than making partner is most lawyers’ priority. With Obelisk, a legal career path, with the continuing stimulation of high calibre work servicing giants such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, and family, no longer need to be mutually exclusive.”
The Obelisk concept, and the values that underpin it, caught the eye of the Times Top 50 this year, which is being published in a special supplement in The Times today, as part of Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week. The Obelisk story made the inside spread in the supplement, and a special photo shoot was arranged to capture the Obelisk team in their office in Farringdon. Emma Tucker, The Times’ Deputy Editor, said: “The Times is proud to support Business in the Community’s campaign to improve women’s careers by publishing a special report, for the fifth year running, to celebrate the Top 50 Employers for Women. The supplement will bring to a wide audience the steps that these 50 organisations are making to create a fairer and better working environment for women and will also highlight the challenges still to be overcome in the wider workplace.”
Kathryn Nawrockyi, Opportunity Now Director at Business in the Community, said: “Congratulations to Obelisk Support on being included in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2015. They have recognised that putting inclusive behaviours at the core of what they do and making gender equality a business priority not only benefits the women they employ, but also the organisation as a whole and the clients, customers and communities they serve. Their dedication and commitment to driving change should educate and inspire other employers to make a difference, whatever their size or sector.”
Obelisk has ambitious plans for growing the company by working with more clients and consultants, and this year Dana is launching a series of ground-breaking projects to drive change for women in the workplace, including the First 100 Years. Supported by the Law Society and the Bar Council, the project runs over the next four years, marking 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919. Dana Denis-Smith said: “The time is right for companies like Obelisk to reshape the workplace for women – placing much more emphasis on human qualities, not just business. In fact, when you get the balance right between work and family life, when you help create much happier and valued employees, you see productivity and profit rise as a result. But change needs momentum, and visibility, and awareness. Being in The Times Top 50 will bring Obelisk all these things during 2015 and beyond.”