Re-charging through real conversation: The Women in Sustainability Network launches a Glasgow hub
Written by Katy Murdoch, Sustainability Consultant
On 2nd May we held a Taster Event for a new Glasgow Hub of the Women in Sustainability Network (WINS). I was nervous about attendance figures – is there even enough women working in sustainability in Glasgow to warrant its own hub? But nearly 40 women turned up, all with stories to share. It was clear after five minutes of informal networking, at the beginning of the evening, that this was the start of something extremely nurturing.
WINS aims to enable women to flourish in careers and businesses creating a better world. There are lively hubs in Manchester, Stoke-on Trent, London, Bristol, Newcastle, Oxford, with Edinburgh and Aberdeen starting up soon. I’ve attended a few women’s networking events in Glasgow and always find I can talk a little bit more openly than at mixed gender networking.
The theme of the evening was, ‘How to Grow Your Sustainability Career’. We had three guest speakers who told us about their route into sustainability. First up was Rebecca Ricketts from Circular Glasgow who shared key lessons on how working within predominately male environments helped shape effective delivery within her current role. Amanda Swan told us how a STEM scheme for women had been useful in encouraging her into the renewables sector. Victoria Barby was our final speaker of the evening with some fantastic advice from her varied career spanning, RBS, Edinburgh Airport to her current role at Scottish Parliament. There were some stories from the speakers which I’d love to share but confidentiality is important at Women in Sustainability Events – just as I’m sure, some things on the golf course are kept on the golf course!
Between the talks, we had discussions in smaller groups. In the sustainability sector we are increasingly seeing people entering from a mix of backgrounds and this event was no different – we had designers, business-owners, academics, PR professionals as well as environmental managers. Sustainability is very broad-reaching in definition and it’s no wonder that people from different disciplines are popping up. With no silver-bullet solution to our climate change and environmental emergencies, this is important as answers need to come from everywhere and everyone.
Women bring skills such as compassion and the ability to multi-task, which are vital in making progress towards sustainability, where politics and business-as-usual is failing. My role models at the moment are Greta Thunberg, Christiana Figueres, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sally Uren, Naomi Klein and Solitaire Townsend. These women have energy, forthrightness, optimism and communication skills by the bucket-load. I was shocked to discover recently that there is still a pay gap within the sustainability industry itself even though gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals! Despite great educational attainment, women aren’t reaching the levels men are in the workplace. Whether it’s discrimination or the system, women don’t hold positions they crucially need to if the human race is going to navigate this climate crisis in a just and equitable way.
WINS is about empowering women in the advancement of their careers and creating a collaborative network where we can come together in a way that builds confidence and nurtures our leadership and purpose. Founder, Rhian Sherrington says:
‘At our Network events we share stories and strategies, taking time out of our busy schedules for vital reflection within a safe space that allows us to voice our concerns as well as explore solutions. From our beginnings in Bristol, we have grown to eight Hubs across the UK so far, with new Hubs looking to get established in India, Europe as well as elsewhere in the UK. I’m delighted to see such positive response Katy has received in Glasgow for a new WINS Hub to get established.’
Sustainability is one area of business where companies working within the same sector can and are dropping competitiveness and genuinely collaborating on a shared goal. I’m very much looking forward to the next event and being back, sharing insights with a room full of smart, purpose-led women. It doesn’t get much more inspiring than that for me.
The next hub event will be on 22nd August at 5.30pm – 8.30pm. It is kindly hosted by our event sponsor Jacobs. The topic is ‘How to Have a Powerful Voice’. Please come along if you are working in sustainability or interested in a career in the field. Tickets are available here.
Katy Murdoch is the Director of Sustainability Sense Limited as well as being the Hub Leader for the Glasgow Women in Sustainability Network.
Follow WINS on Twitter at @SustWomen
Join ‘Women in Sustainability’ group on LinkedIn.