It started, as these things often do, with a late-night text. Hey Soli, I said (that’s Solitaire Townsend, founder of the brilliant Futerra). How about getting together with lots of women working in sustainability, spending a couple of days thinking properly about all that stuff that we normally chat about over whisky late at night. Like, do women have different working styles than men? Does it matter? Should we be ‘leaning in’, and what does that even mean? What if we got women together, had some honest chats, and worked out what we could do better?
Soli’s response was characteristically enthusiastic. And so She Is Sustainable was born. We spoke to friends at Unilever, and they gave us a venue to use. We spoke to more friends, who offered to help out. We spoke to yet more friends, and people we’d never met but had always wanted an excuse to contact, and they offered to come and speak. With zero funding and maximum goodwill, we pulled together a sort of un-conference – a couple of days of discussion, some structured, some not; and a good dinner of course.
And what a joy it has been. I’ve pulled together a lot of events in my time, but never I have I encountered such amazing levels of enthusiasm from all those involved. Although it could have turned into a bit of an angsting session, it didn’t at all. The atmosphere was upbeat and supportive. As one participant put it, “For those two days I felt like I was part of a community, and I left feeling bigger and taller. Even though we talked about a lot of challenges, I felt empowered when I left. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities in my career.” (Have a look at the write-up here for more comments and blogs.)
Nicest of all, it seems to have developed a life of its own. Emily Dunning, who came along to the London event, has done a brilliant job of pulling together an event for women in and around Cambridge; and She Is Sustainable has now hit the North too – with a Lancaster session at the end of July. (registration for the Lancaster event is open until tomorrow if you want to come along!)
If you like the idea, and want to plan your own session, or come along to one, have a look at the website or just get in touch. We have no funding, organisation or strategy – it’s not that sort of thing – we’ve just got a good idea and a whole load of enthusiasm. We’d love to hear from you.