She is Sustainable

She is Sustainable, SiS, Spoon

McKenna (BG team member) outlines her experience co-organising She is Sustainable below.

She is Sustainable (SiS) is an event that was initially held in London (then Cambridge, Lancaster, Oxford, London again, Dublin, and most recently the She is Still Sustainable event in London!), to connect women starting out in their sustainability careers. I was lucky enough to co-host Scotland’s first SiS on April 20th, with over 10 speakers coming from all over Scotland and England. The one-day interactive workshop offered the women attending a forum to share insights and discuss some of the many challenges faced in the workplace. From the gender pay gap to recent equality movements such as Time’s Up, Me Too, and Mentor Her, She is Sustainable aimed to create a positive and an informal environment to ask tough questions.

The workshop drew women from all sectors in Scotland and even Liverpool, who are interested in developing their careers in sustainability. Initially the day started off focusing on the facts and figures regarding the gender pay gap, and women in the workplace today. It was a fantastic start to the day’s discussions, lead by Becky Willis (one of the SiS founders). Sonia Oladoyin then gave the first ‘life-story’ of the day, which highlighted her experience in a male dominated engineering world and time as a board shadow for SEPA.

The SiS event programme then moved onto the idea of success, and how being successful can be different for women. The panel discussion consisted of Becky, Sonia, Fran van Dijk (One Stone Advisors), Rebecca McLean (Sweco), and Fleur Ruckley (Wood). It was inspiring to see so many women from different areas of sustainability coming together to identify similar themes of success.

After lunch, Dr Sarah Ivory brought her daughter to SiS to highlight the pros and cons of working with or without children. By bringing her daughter into the session, attendees were challenged to think about tough questions such as “if women chose not to have children to advance their career, is it fair to judge her against a women who does have children for the same position?”. These questions were not meant to be answered, but rather to invoke a deeper thought process around working when having children.

Finally the day ended with our very own BG Managing Director, Paul Adderley, talking on a panel about unconscious bias and mentoring with Michelle Brown (University of Edinburgh Head of Social Responsibility and Sustainability programmes). The attendees were pleased to see that a man was involved in the important discussions around bias and mentoring.

Capping off the event was the dinner, where Professor Lesley Sawers OBE gave a keynote speech. Lesley’s speech touched on the need to make room for the women that are coming up behind us. By explaining the challenges her generation had to go through, she was thrilled that it allowed for events like She is Sustainable to exist.

The structure of the day was meant to be informal, allowing the attendees to interact in a meaningful way. During the day people were encouraged to network, and the dinner demonstrated how well people had gotten to know one another. With the speakers sitting in-between the attendees, the dinner was the final place for attendees to ask questions and connect.

I’d like to give a massive thank you to my Directors at Beyond Green for allowing me to take volunteering time to organise She is Sustainable. Without their support and flexibility, the event wouldn’t have been able to happen.

If you’re interested in finding out more about She is Sustainable, or want to join us for a future event please go to or keep an eye out on the BG news page!