Just before the Easter bank holiday, we met as a network to hear from guest speakers Clare Rodgers and Wendy Brooks, who joined us from the Environment Agency. We shared a space to pause and reflect on how to champion gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Often these terms can become buzz words and this session was a chance to rediscover and discuss practical ways to reach these intentions.
Clare, our guest speaker, was one of the 2022 winners of the Women in FCERM’s Inspiring Individual Award, and was recognised for championing gender equality, diversity and inclusion across the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) sector. Clare talked about why she was recognised and her activities and experiences. Wendy spoke to us as the strategic lead for Women in FCERM, the network which awarded Clare, and told us about the group. Women in FCERM is a network and mentoring group that aims to provide networking and support to women working in the flood and coastal erosion risk management sector. You can find out more about their work on their website.
Thank you to everyone who attended and shared in our discussion. Below we highlight some of the points raised:
- We talked about experiencing a lack of gender equality, diversity and inclusion and the challenges this can bring. Then we discussed being inspired to strive for a solution to this challenge. We highlighted that solutions can be through mentoring and coaching others to enable to change. It can also be important to raise awareness, for example by telling others and highlighting the issue via articles or blog posts.
- We discussed how important it is to be visible in doing things differently as it can support and inspire others to do the same. For example, working part time in senior positions and occupying spaces that we might not think we should. Equally, even if we don’t see others visibly using different approaches, it is still possible to change our approach. Having the courage to be what you can’t see is important!
- We reflected on the importance of knowing our places of support – who supports us? Where can we find support? This reflection is often intertwined with who we support and we discussed our own role in other’s circles of support.
- Being an introvert or feeling less confident can sometimes challenge us, such as not feeling able to approach senior colleagues to encourage or ask for change. We discussed how often feelings of shyness or imposter syndrome are universal, affecting those we perceive as self-assertive and self-assured. We can all have influence.
- Upcoming training sessions were shared as well as resources that may be of interest to you too; a podcast available on Planet Possible, and information from Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper about ‘Confidence Gremlins’, which we all possess! Read about the gremlins here.
Special thanks to Clare and Wendy for joining us for an informative and supportive discussion. The session was guest-hosted by Hannah Hayes, who is a PhD student at the University of Exeter’s geography department and previously worked at the Environment Agency.