Today the Women’s Executive Network has named Professor Carol Liao a recipient of the 2021 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Award category. The category recognizes the achievements of women in mid-level stages in their careers who have demonstrated vision and leadership and who are passionate about innovation and learning.
Dr. Liao is an internationally respected scholar in business law, a dedicated educator and a community activist, whose research focuses on corporate law and sustainability. As Director of the Centre for Business Law, Dr. Liao leads a dynamic research centre that provides professionals, scholars and students with cutting-edge legal education and networking events year-round. She is the UBC Sauder Distinguished Scholar of the Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics and Principal Co-Investigator of the Canada Climate Law Initiative, which is developing key strategies to encourage meaningful governance action from corporate directors and other fiduciaries in the transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
Women, especially racialized and Indigenous women, are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. I feel this award only motivates and reminds me of the responsibilities I have in contributing to positive social change.
In addition to her teaching and research, Dr. Liao is a public leader in anti-racism education and has made it integral to her leadership. Dr. Liao frequently delivers lectures, workshops and training on EDI, and is a member of the steering committee of the National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism. She is also a director of the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre, a museum dedicated to anti-racism initiatives and BC migration stories. She has made notable contributions to the development of corporate law, consulting with regulators and government officials on the implementation of laws and policies fostering responsible business. Dr. Liao was also honoured as a 2021 Recipient of the Influential Women in Business Award from Business in Vancouver.
We had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Liao about her research, what receiving this award means to her, and what she hopes it might mean for young women lawyers.
“It is an honour to be recognized for the impact my work has had on industry and receiving news of this award has been very humbling,” says Dr. Liao. “Women, especially racialized and Indigenous women, are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. I feel this award only motivates and reminds me of the responsibilities I have in contributing to positive social change.”
I am proud of the young women lawyers I see empowering each other while helping to empower the most vulnerable in our society. It is not too late to change the trajectories of our futures.
Dr. Liao says she hopes the award will inspire young women who are currently in law school or just beginning their legal careers. “Future generations are going to hold the greatest share of the burden created by climate change and entrenched social inequities,” she explains. “I am proud of the young women lawyers I see empowering each other while helping to empower the most vulnerable in our society. It is not too late to change the trajectories of our futures.”
Dr. Liao is currently engaged in a number of research projects relating to climate governance, equity and inclusion, critical race, and feminist perspectives – with the aim of influencing structural change. Among her current projects, she is looking forward to her new edited collection coming out in the spring: Corporate Law and Sustainability from the Next Generation of Lawyers, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. The book amplifies the voices of a diverse group of young lawyers with new ideas on the future of corporate law under our climate emergency. “As our planetary problems have intergenerational effects, the solutions and paths forward must also include intergenerational voices,” she says.
The Allard Law community congratulates Dr. Liao on this well-deserved recognition.