Ainslie Cunningham

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Sharing my passion of governance and risk management as a Company Secretary by supporting boards and companies and providing a unique perspective on principles, policies, controls, accountability and transparency. I am also kept very busy being a strategist, accountant, sales person, marketer, bookkeeper, IT specialist, LinkedIn and social media guru, chef, cleaner, nurse, uber driver and all round miracle worker (aka a small business owner and wife of an amazing husband and proud mother of two beautiful girls (age 8 and 11), who despite the daily challenge of getting ready for school on time (the struggle is real), are growing into kind, loving, strong independent women).

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

As someone who gets extreme satisfaction out of helping others, driving strong ethical behaviour and always keen on analysing and solving problems it makes perfect sense that I have ended up where I am today. Albeit, I have not taken a traditional path. I started out studying to become a mechanical engineer which came to a grinding halt on the sudden passing of my father leaving me to help support my family and take a change in direction in my career before finding my true calling.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Inclusion, equality and opportunity.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Inspirational and transformational leaders to educate and show the benefits of what diversity can bring to the table. Help change the mindsets of everyone within the profession whether it be past, present or emerging. Ensuring there is equal access to opportunities. Acknowledging that women face many hurdles in an industry that breeds an environment of overwork and competition which can ultimately lead to burn-out. There needs to be more flexibility for women who are expected to work as if they don’t have children and raise them as if they don’t work. Creating a culture that fosters inclusive capitalism and grows confidence. Overcoming the stigma to challenge the status quo. Strong mentors to be a catalyst for change to help empower, motivate and support women. Inclusion of women in strategy and innovation discussions, women think differently to men and because of that women offer a unique perspective with respectful challenge and emotional intelligence that can really add value and strengthen the overall outcome.

Ainslie is Co-Founder and Corporate Governance Consultant at 3YS Owls.