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Corporate responsibility and inclusion

Women in the World: Key takeaways and inspiring & sobering moments

Natalie Runyon  Director & Head of the Talent Platform at Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute

Natalie Runyon  Director & Head of the Talent Platform at Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute

This month’s Women in the World Summit was a three-day event filled with inspiration and sobering facts about the state of women around the world.

As a sponsor of the event, Thomson Reuters had as many as 10 women at a time attending the event, including winner of our journalist-for-day event Terrilyn Brumfield.

Inspiring moments for change

Oprah Winfrey, a keynote speaker at the conference, inspired Brumfield, who called the entire summit an “awesome experience, life changing.”

Notably, Winfrey underscored how conferences like Women in the World “inspire us to keep doing the work,” and she challenged women to “pick a cause, any cause… there are plenty to choose from.”

“It is time for women in the world to set the agenda.” Winfrey also issued a call to action for women to channel our own inner Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. “We need to be the truth,” Winfrey explained. “We have to be the respect. We have to be the fierceness, the love that we want to see. And when we do that, mark my words, a change is already coming.”

Likewise, Brumfield said she enjoyed actor and director Brie Larson’s call for transparency on pay equity. Specifically, Larson stated that she is excited to talk money because of the “trap” in which women are made to feel like it is “super icky,” so “you don’t ask for what you deserve, because you know what that number is inside.”


“We have to be the fierceness, the love that we want to see. And when we do that, mark my words, a change is already coming.”


One panel, titled AI: All Too Human, left Helen Respass, Senior Legal Editor at Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law, struck by the discussion on the need for women to have a seat at the table in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). Specifically, Respass mentioned how “algorithms develop the biases of their developers,” and there is some disturbing data to illustrate the point. For example, the panelists noted that “the margin of error for AI facial recognition is about 1% for white males, but up to 35% for dark-skinned women.”

Progress in America ‘is not echoed throughout the world’

For a number of Thomson Reuters attendees, the panel on Saudi’s War on Women was a defining moment which urged all women, especially in the West, to respond to the oppression of women overseas. In particular, Rebecca Rachlin, Associate Editor at Practical Law, was moved by the plea from Lina al-Hathloul to free her sister, Loujain al-Hathloul, who was imprisoned and tortured for campaigning to lift Saudi Arabia’s female driving ban, even though the ban was lifted in 2018.

Likewise, another attendee, Kellie Wellmann, Director of Impact Engagement at Thomson Reuters, was similarly moved by hearing the story of these sisters. “The bravery of both of these women standing up for the rights of the women of Saudi Arabia at all costs was so moving and inspiring,” Wellmann said. “We need to support women across the globe in their fight for the basic rights we take for granted.”

For another Thomson Reuters attendee, panelist Manal Al-Sharif — an activist who spoke about her efforts to protest Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers — was quite inspiring. At the end of the panel Al-Sharif asked everyone in the audience to pull out their keys and make as much noise as possible to honor the women who have been jailed in Saudi Arabia because of their fight for women’s rights.

“The sound of 2,000-plus keys jingling in unison on the heels of her words was utterly powerful,” the attendee said. “Now, when I hear keys jingle, it will remind me never to take for granted how far women’s rights have come in some ways, but also how far they have yet to go.”

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