Funke Abimbola shortlisted for MBE in Queens birthday honours list 2017
I am still taking it all in and feel very humbled and proud to be receiving this honour.
British/Nigerian lawyer, diversity leader and mother, Funke Abimbola (nee Akindolie), has been recognised by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II in her 91st birthday honours list for 2017.
Nigerian-born Funke has been awarded the M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to diversity in the legal profession and to young people.
The Queen has recognised the long-term, significant impact of Funke’s outstanding service to the legal community and to the next generation, serving as an example to others.
Commenting on her appointment as M.B.E. Funke said:
“I was absolutely stunned when I received an official letter from the Cabinet Office informing me of this in early May but have had to keep this news confidential until now”.
“The letter explained that, having taken advice from the Head of the Civil Service and the Main Honours Committee, the Prime Minister needed my permission before submitting my name to the Queen and recommending that I be awarded the M.B.E. It is incredible to think that campaigning for equality in my personal time (having experienced both direct racial and gender-based discrimination myself) and supporting young people to reach their potential has led to me receiving a Queen’s honour.”
“I am still taking it all in and feel very humbled and proud to be receiving this honour. More than anything, I am extremely grateful to everyone who has supported my journey and played a part in shaping and developing my vision – my parents, my family, friends, teachers, mentors and mentees. Mine has not been an easy path at all and I still face many challenges but I am very thankful for the support and encouragement I have received along the way”.
“My aim is to use this recognition as an elevated platform to open more doors for under-represented communities and to further advance the equality agenda by demonstrating that we are all bigger than the box that either society or the workplace chooses to put us in. I will be carrying as many people along with me as possible and continue to drive lasting societal change”.
Alongside her day job and parenting her 14 year old son, Funke has used her annual leave and volunteered significant amounts of her personal time towards influencing and improving diversity (with a focus on gender equality, race diversity and social mobility within the legal profession). She is a widely-cited authority on diversity, commentating on issues for a range of organisations as well as being a volunteer world news reviewer, appearing regularly on BBC One to a weekly global news audience of 320 million people.
For 5 years, Funke was a board director of City Growth Luton, a government-funded economic regeneration initiative aimed at creating more opportunities for those from a socially deprived background. She currently holds a number of voluntary, board-level roles across a range of organisations within the diversity space including Aspiring Solicitors (the UK’s largest organisation supporting diversity in the legal profession with over 25,000 members and volunteers), Women in Law London (WILL, a 2,400 strong network established to support the career progression of women lawyers) and First 100 Years (a project creating a digital library to celebrate the history of 100 years of women lawyers).