First Women’s Network in the City celebrates 40th Anniversary

London, 4 June 2018 - City Women Network (“CWN”), the first professional and business women’s network established in the City of London in 1978, will mark the occasion of its 40th anniversary on 12th June at a celebratory reception in London.

CWN was founded by Joni Lysett Nelson, a partner in an international law firm headquartered in New York. The Network was officially launched with its formal constitution at the Law Society in November 1978.  At a time when there were very few female business leaders in the City, the original mission of the network was to link like-minded women for social information sharing.

CWN’s reception in June will gather members past and present, former Presidents and special guests. Appearing as guest speaker is Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, the first Asian woman to become a FTSE250 company CEO when she was appointed to that role at Mitie Group PLC in 2007.

CWN remains one of the longest standing, independent networks for senior businesswomen in the UK. Members were originally mostly in finance or law, with the growing sector diversity of the network becoming apparent in the early 1990s. Today CWN continues to attract accomplished women and entrepreneurs in fields including technology, management consulting, human resources, real estate and publishing.

In addition to its individual members, today CWN counts EE, Nomura, Derwent London, BCS Consulting, Alexander Mann Solutions and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (“ANZ”) among its corporate members.

Sally Todd, CWN President, said, “CWN did not assume that gender imbalance and related issues could be addressed simply by fostering a women’s network, but the founders did recognise that women would benefit from the support of other women in the City, so identifying them was the first hurdle.”

CWN has progressed from holding its meetings in relatively cloistered surroundings 40 years ago to acting as a powerful forum for mobilising debate. A consistent thread in CWN’s work over four decades is its ongoing belief in the economic value of gender diversity.

“Networks such as CWN can bring insightful context and momentum.  The senior female talent deficit has been about working practices and entrenched behaviour. The newly mandated UK gender pay gap numbers for example help to challenge this complacency. With greater attention from clients, shareholders and employees on the value of their brand, companies are recognising the business risk. CWN aims to make a contribution that is relevant, providing a collaborative voice to help advance its members’ interests in the future of work and the workplace, and beyond,” continued Sally Todd, CWN President.

CWN has remained a social organisation - a supportive and vibrant community where members can make meaningful connections to grow their personal networks, and find camaraderie, advice and career support. CWN continues to focus on fostering personal and professional enhancement through development programmes and events.


Brenda Trenowden, Head of Financial Institutions Group Europe, ANZ, and CWN President from 2013 – 2015, said, “At CWN events I speak to lots of great people and take away something positive. When I have needed to talk to someone about work or career issues, my peers at CWN were great sounding boards and have provided support and encouragement. The experience was a great

foundation for my role as Global Chair of the 30% Club.”  

Many women’s networks have been successfully established since CWN was founded. CWN has remained focused on meeting the needs of senior female participants across different sectors, industries and backgrounds. The network has grown at a measured pace, in order to preserve its community focus and through membership criteria focused on seniority that ensures members engage with female peers. This mission, which has remained consistent for decades has conserved CWN’s culture and differentiated the network from the broader mission of others aiming to meet the needs of participants at different career stages.


Monica Fisher, CWN Founder Member, and former Bank of America executive, said, “CWN’s greatest achievement has been its ability to survive by remaining relevant in the lives of senior businesswomen. The network has been sufficiently flexible to adapt under the stewardship of its various presidents who have continued to strengthen our community. Through CWN, many women have learned from contacts they otherwise would not have met, and like myself over 40 years, have made enduring friendships.”