The 21st century is bringing some inspiring changes to the business world. Two of the most notable of these changes: an increased presence of women in senior-level positions, and a strengthened interest in environmental consciousness.
After years of spearheading a variety of environmental initiatives, National Women’s Business Council Member Jaime Nack realized that despite these great advances, women leaders in sustainability still lacked a strong support system and community. Taking matters into her own hands, in 2009, Ms. Nack founded the Women In Green Forum (WIGF) with the mission of highlighting women’s impact on the environmental industry and the goal of encouraging more women to join the field.
Last week, the WIGF celebrated its fifth anniversary of its flagship Los Angeles conference focusing on a theme of “Design Your Impact.” The theme allowed attendees to experience a range of activities at the conference and to fine-tune ways of incorporating sustainable principles and practices into their work, their communities and their spheres of influence. Sessions explored sustainable design innovations and how technology is driving change within the economy and our built environment. Throughout the event, attendees heard from experts leading environmental efforts across a wide variety of industries. Many speakers came from the sustainable fashion sector, including Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute President Bridgett Luther, I:Collect USA Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Gilbert, and Wear No Evil author Greta Eagan. Several presenters came from the green transportation sector, including South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Lisha B. Smith, Los Angeles World Airports’ Environmental Director Lisa Trifiletti, and American Honda Motor Company’s Raminta Jautokas who leads their green dealership program. The clean tech sector was also well represented at the WIGF, with speakers including Hewlett-Packard’s former Vice President of Environmental Sustainability Engelina Jaspers, WaterSmart’s Dominique Gómez, and UCLA’s social media maven Beverly Macy.
Although there is always an abundance of successful women ready to teach and inspire others working in the environmental arena, every year WIGF organizers struggle to showcase all of the sectors in the large (and growing) sustainability industry. As society becomes increasingly aware of the negative effects many human activities have on the environment, demand for and presence of sustainable businesses, services and clean technologies are on the rise. Recognizing the importance of this growth, every year the Women In Green Forum aims to highlight as many of these new and evolving environmental sectors as possible.
Allowing participants to build out their professional networks is a key goal that is worked into every aspect of the conference. From interactive panel discussions to exhibitor booths showcasing new technologies to the popular Clean Vehicle Ride & Drive, attendees are able to engage in the overall experience of growing their knowledge base and industry network. This year, WIGF offered a “Wellness Lounge,” where exhibitors showcased eco-friendly products and wellness services. Several small, women-owned businesses specializing in recycled products or environmentally conscious items were able to showcase their offerings to a receptive audience.
The attendee evaluations were overwhelming positive and one attendee remarked, “It was my first time to participate and I was floored by how the green movement is valued by so many, and how it cuts through all sectors of society.” By creating a venue for women to develop the skills necessary for professional success, promoting women’s leadership across the environmental industry, and channeling our efforts to build a better world where both genders have equal access to and involvement in leadership and decision-making, the WIGF continues to strengthen the community of women working to make the world a greener place.