So far this year we’ve seen the Women in Sustainability Network extend across the UK, moving from our established Hubs in Bristol, London, Oxford, Newcastle and Manchester, to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Stoke on Trent/ Staffordshire, with more in the pipeline. These Hubs, with their brilliant WINS Hub Leads, have brought together 1000+ women whose careers and businesses are focused on creating environmental, social and economic change.
Adding to that the 5,000+ women who engaged with the Network online, it’s starting to feel we’re realising our ambition of creating a learning community where ‘women in sustainability’ can:
- Grow their network;
- Nurture their purpose; and
- Be inspired!
Our mission is to support women to lead, to maximise their impact whilst also ensuring they flourish. We do this through carefully facilitating a space at our Hub events where women can safely explore their concerns, wisdom and solutions.
I often talk about the Network being ‘coaching-led’ in that we consciously create ‘thinking environments’ where women can be seen and heard, practicing their voices which can, often unintentionally, be stymied in their workplaces.
Sometimes I get asked ‘Are you anti-men? or others may question the validity of creating artificial female-only environments as we are ‘all in it together’; that our solutions to the planetary crisis need to transcend gender difference.
Of course I agree we should be able to truly value the difference diversity brings – but we’re not there yet! One clear benefit I see of offering a female space is that the women attending simply enjoy a different conversation when men are not present. And that difference is empowering, it’s talent-boosting and it is also fun!
Another aspect of our mission is to celebrate women in the vital work they do by sharing their voice and perspectives. Hence our ‘Women In..’ interview series here on our blog, fielding requests for female speakers for conferences for example and supporting campaigns that match our values and capture our attention.
But with women’s networks cropping up all over the place, what makes us different and does what we do work?
Fortunately that latter question is now closer to being understood, with a research project kicking off in partnership with Newcastle University Business School and our own annual survey that we’ll be reporting on soon.
In understanding what makes us different, I’d say at heart is the fact that at a WINS Network event you’re able to meet and debate your thoughts and ideas with a wide range of women who share your values, and for whom ‘sustainability’ has been the cornerstone of careers that simply have to ‘make a difference’. Feedback from our Hubs also offers a few clues….
Thank you so much for a wonderful and inspiration evening. I’m so glad I’ve found the WINS Network in Oxford – there was amazing brain power and spirit in the room. I went home so energised.
I really liked the general openness, the variety in discussion and meeting new people. It was really thought provoking and a great confidence boost!
But as our WINS Newcastle Hub lead, Dr Jenny Davidson says, ‘You explain it well but Women in Sustainability needs to be experienced before you really ‘get’ it’.
I completely concur with Jenny, so if you’ve not already attended an event, then do come along to one soon. You can find out about all our Hubs here. And if you’d like to know how to get a Hub up and running near you, drop me an email.
I’d like to finish up by thanking all the many organisations and businesses who make it possible for us to bring the Women in Sustainability Network to our community around the UK. You’ll find them listed on our specific Hub pages, along with profiles of our incredible WINS Hub Leads. Special mention must however go to ‘serial’ sponsors whose wonderful generosity the Network is so grateful to receive.
In Bristol, Smith and Williamson LLP have hosted the Network for all our events, for two years running.
In Manchester, Crowe LLP’s tremendous hospitality and support has been instrumental in getting our Hub off the ground in the city.
I look forward to seeing the WINS Network continue to grow beyond the UK and into Europe and further afield later this year.
Rhian Sherrington, MSc, ACC, Founder of Women in Sustainability Network