From education to employment

Honorary degree for renowned Barrister and EDI leader

Award-winning Common Law Barrister and equity, diversity and inclusion champion, Dr Sally Penni MBE, to receive honorary degree for outstanding contribution to law and EDI

Dr Sally Penni MBE, the high-profile Barrister and diversity leader, will receive an honorary degree from the University of Salford Business School this July, due to her distinguished work in the field of law and her commitment to paving the way for social mobility and diversity in the legal sector.

Sally, who currently sits on Salford Business School’s Industry Advisory Board and spends a great deal of time helping to develop and mentor the next generation of Lawyers and Barristers, has paved the way to open doors for underrepresented groups to enter the legal profession throughout her career which spans more than two decades.

As a specialist in employment and criminal law, with an emphasis on vulnerability, Sally has an array of career highlights, but credits her greatest achievement as succeeding with three children and continuing to practice law today. Sally has previously and continues to handle many complex cases. In addition to being a Bencher at Gray’s Inn, Master of the Bench, as well as a Barrister at Kentworthy’s Chambers, specialising in crime, GDPR, data protection and employment law, she is also the Founder of social enterprise, FMD, a community network focused on connection and aimed at ending loneliness and isolation.

In reaction to receiving the honorary degree, Sally said,

“I am absolutely thrilled for my work to be recognised in this way. I hope to use this great honour to affect further change both in the court room and in our sector. I hope to work further and use this to create more opportunities for young people in the sector.”

Sally is of Ghanaian British Heritage and has dedicated her career to driving equity and diversity in the workplace, as well as social mobility in the law sector. As a result, she was awarded an MBE in the late Queen’s birthday honours list in 2020.

As the Founder and Chair of Women in the Law UK, a not-for-profit networking and professional development organisation that supports gender diversity and women’s progression in the sector, as well as Founder and Host of the organisation’s Talking Law podcast, Sally is passionate about striving for gender equity in all areas of the legal profession. Her podcast has amassed over one million listeners and downloads, comprising aspiring lawyers plus women in business.

Dr Francine Morris, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement, Salford Business School, comments:

“Sally’s prolific and successful career is truly inspirational. I am always impressed by the critical work she does to fight for justice in the legal sector, but I am often astounded by the time she manages to give to students, ensuring that there is enough diverse talent to continue her work.   

“I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that many of our law students have told me that Sally is their ultimate role model. Sally supports the school and our students in many ways and I am delighted to have nominated her for this honorary degree.”

In addition to her work in law and EDI, Sally dedicates much of her time to charity work and fundraising, supporting several charities including Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. She is also a Vice Chair of the Association of Women Barristers, a Board Member at The Advocate’s Gateway and The Productivity Institute, plus a Non-Executive Director on a variety of other boards including, Arawak Walton Housing Association, Codethink Ltd and Camberwell Park School.

Having experienced many rejections early on in her career, Sally has become a true advocate for breaking down barriers with this only further fuelling her ambition to succeed. Despite there being few real female and black role models in the industry during those early days, she continued pushing herself to succeed so she could personally change the face and perception of the legal sector, particularly when it comes to intersectionality.

Francine concludes:

“Sally does vital work to create meaningful career pathways for our students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. In particular, she has been very generous, opening up her network to our students, including Judges, Barristers and Solicitors who have themselves gone on to support our students. We look forward to continuing to work together for years to come.”

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