Women are key to the battle against climate change from multiple angles, so how do we get more women in climate leadership?
Women are natural innovators whose ideas we need at the table in order to find the best solutions. Women are also the most vulnerable population on the front lines of the crisis. Women are the caretakers of their families and communities.
Yet, the huge United Nations climate conference known as COP26 this year was still largely dominated by men. To address this disparity and pressing need, and help more women advance into leadership roles in combating climate change across various industries, I interviewed three highly-influential women leaders who took the stage at the huge recent United Nations climate conference known as COP26 on my Electric Ladies Podcast. These three women move in the highest levels of government, media, business, NGOs, science and academia.
Sandrine Dixson is Co-President of the Club of Rome and chaired the high-profile session at COP26 with President Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and other global leaders, when they announced their ground-breaking commitment to deforestation. The Club of Rome is comprised of heads of state and top CEO’s, scientists and academics from around the globe who “are committed to facilitating the difficult conversations and the bold actions” to combat climate change and its devastating impact on people, the planet and the economy.
Gillian Tett is the Editor-at-Large of the Financial Times and chair of the FT’s Editorial Board, cofounder of their popular Moral Money newsletter, and formerly was its U.S. Managing Editor, among other roles. She’s also the author of four books on the financial markets, has a Ph.D. in social anthropology, and writes weekly columns, covering a range of economic, financial, political and social issues. She has won many awards, including in 2014 being named “Columnist of the Year” by the British Press Awards.
Twila Moon is a climate scientist who is a leading expert on glaciers and a top professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Science, housed in its Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. She regularly speaks on climate issues in the media and at events.
Here are their career tips from these extraordinary leaders, especially for women who want to make a difference in climate issues:
- “Never underestimate her capacity and never underestimate how much people realize what she’s doing”: With this important statement, Dixson reminds women to acknowledge how much they have done and the difference they are She added, “So many of us continuously feel guilty, and in particular, we feel that we’re giving up on our children, we’re giving up on our husbands or our partners, and we’re not being a proper mom, when we’re actually delivering on the front lines of our career.” She also reminded us that, even when they don’t say it out loud, “our kids are proud of us, our husbands are proud of us, or our partners, and we should be proud of us.”
- “Women need to have more confidence in what they can deliver”: Men get more of the great jobs in part because they seek them out and have the confidence that they can do them, even if they do not meet all the requirements, Dixson said. Women, on the other hand, are too cautious, and she encourages women “to take those risks and to go for those jobs, even though they may not have 100% of the criteria that’s necessary, because what happens most of the time, women over-deliver.”
To that point, Twila Moon says:
- “Recogniz(e) that you’re in a continually evolving space”: That is, recognize and honor how you’re growing and learning new skills. “You may have outgrown a job you thought was your dream job. That position that you were trying for three years ago, “ Moon added. Instead, she suggested, women should think about, “Is that still the place that you might have the most influence? Because you might’ve already grown out of that dream and already be able to take on bigger responsibilities or bigger roles.” And don’t get complacent, Dixson insists, “continue to develop our own capacities.”
- “Take care of ourselves as we climb up that ladder:” Dixson also said it’s “so important to take some ‘me’ time,” even though “that is incredibly difficult.” We are useless to anyone and endanger our health when we get burned out, which is easy to do especially in mid-career because we are running on all-cylinders 24/7 trying to be superwoman in all areas of our lives. Covid reminded us of this too.
That includes choosing your priorities and….
- “Learn how to say ‘no’…saying ‘yes’ to the things already on your plate”: That was how Moon put it. That is, decide on your priorities and where you want to focus, so you do fewer things, but do them better. She also suggests that you refer the projects you cannot do to other people, and Dixson reminds us to refer them to other women who may be able to do that work – so we support the sisterhood. It will also keep these people in your network in case “it’s something you do want to be involved in, in the future,” Moon added. It also demonstrates your influence and the power of your network.
And, most importantly….
“Be tenacious. Don’t give up”: Gillian Tett insists. Understand that life is not a ladder, Tett said, referencing Sheryl Sandberg’s comment that, “it’s a jungle gym.” Therefore, “you have to think more creatively and flexibly.”
Especially in the climate-energy-ESG economy, which intersects with every industry, you need to be both persistent and creative. You need to tap knowledge and trends from various different industries, and don’t let the rejections knock you off your game.
This was originally published in Forbes here.