Lawyer, businesswoman and prominent diversity advocate
Margaret Casely-Hayford grew up in London and came to Somerville in 1980 to study Law. She was called to the Bar in 1983, working for City law firm Dentons for twenty years and becoming a partner. One of the first black British women to become a partner in a City law firm, Casely-Hayford was named Black British Business Person of the year in 2014.
During her term on the Board of NHS England, Casely-Hayford was one of the Directors who promoted and championed ‘NHS Citizen’, the listening structure for the National Health Service. She was Director of Legal Services for the John Lewis Partnership for nine years and spent four years on the Board of the British Retail Consortium. After chairing ActionAid UK, she was awarded a CBE in 2018 for charitable services. Now retired from executive roles, Casely-Hayford supports and advises organisations on governance and she also offers advice to young entrepreneurs and those, in particular women and BAME or LGTBQ+ people, who wish to embark upon board careers.
Casely-Hayford is a member of the Institute of Directors’ Governance Advisory Board and a Fellow of the Centre for Public Impact. She is Chair of the Advisory Board of the award-winning Ultra Education and is also Patron of the John Staples Society, a body created across the Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools to develop social mobility. Casely-Hayford supports Target Oxbridge, which helps talented black students to apply for and study at Oxford and Cambridge. She is the Chancellor of Coventry University and Chair of the Globe Theatre. She also a member of the Metropolitan Police Oversight Panel. Casely-Hayford is an Honorary Fellow of Somerville.
Margaret Casely-Hayford on Somerville ‘It gave me confidence and self-belief, and it also gave me a platform to be stronger in the cause of promoting women and diversity. I’ve always been a champion of equality, pretty much from the age of 11 onwards. Going to Somerville gave me greater strength to be able to champion what I believe.’