2021 was a pivotal year for Women in Cleantech & Sustainability. Marking the 10 year anniversary of our organization, it was a year of expansion, accomplishments, and catalytic call to action to shape the next decade of climate activism.
From celebrating the “Next Decade in Action” as part of our 10 year anniversary to the launch of our Scholarship Program, as well as the continued growth of our membership base, we are proud of the growth and success we have achieved this past year.
Looking forward to 2022 and beyond, we have some big plans. While we might have started out as a modest organization in the Bay Area, this next Decade of Action calls for us to expand to new locations, not just within the U.S., but globally. Within this mission, WCS is also expanding our commitment to increasing the state of diversity in our sector. We are committed to boosting the diverse representation of not just women, but minorities in the green economy and believe in the importance of creating a space where they see themselves within this sector.
Looking back at all we have accomplished in the past year, we know that there is much more our organization can achieve. We face this new year (and decade) with more optimism than ever – fueled by some of the examples highlighted below that illustrate the milestones achieved and the impact our organization and its members have made.
MEMBERSHIP BASE CONTINUES TO GROW
With all of our varied membership offerings, our community has now grown to over 5,000 members! While a majority of our members are in the U.S., our influence is far-reaching – with members from Europe, Africa, and more – combining a total of 13 countries our members reside in. We also added a chapter membership in Los Angeles for local members in the area.
Our growth wouldn’t be possible without the incredible generosity of our sponsors and partners. We added a total of 29 corporate member sponsors this year! Special recognition to our enterprise corporate members: Microsoft and Aurora Solar. We would like to thank you all for helping to empower our work here at WCS.
SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM LAUNCHES & DONATES LAPTOPS TO PARTICIPANTS
This year, we saw the launch of our vital Scholarship Membership Program – a mission-driven initiative to fill the diversity gap in the cleantech industry. These limited scholarships are designed to open up career opportunities and resources to enable emerging leaders to join our network and benefit from the resources WCS has to offer. Through this program, we were able to open doors to 10 new participants and expand our membership into 4 new countries.
To support our participants, we partnered with Corporate eWaste Solutions (CEWS) who donated 10 refurbished laptops to our scholarship recipients to enable them to take full advantage of the program.
PITCH COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Let’s not forget the brilliance that came to light from the entrepreneurs who competed in our Pitch Competition. In its 3rd year, this program allows a selected group of women to pitch their innovative cleantech or sustainable-focused business idea to a panel of industry leaders.
Congratulations to Laureen Meroueh, former CEO of Alchemr, for winning our 3rd annual Talks Pitch Competition! Alchemr is making green hydrogen through a stable, large-scale, and ultra-low-cost water electrolyzer. Laureen was also identified in 2021 by Forbes Magazine as a top 30 under age 30 in the Social Impact category.
Special recognition to all of our talented participants: Melody Brenna, Madeline Miller, Lindsey Hoell, Kristin Sampayan, and Susan Blanchet. We look forward to watching you all make strides within your industries.
10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY IDEATHON SPARKS DIRECTION FOR NEXT DECADE
Our 10 year anniversary, sponsored by Microsoft, was filled with many insightful and robust discussions. From Executive and Youth Leaders discussing how they plan to tackle climate challenges to an insightful keynote address from Dawn James, U.S. Director of Sustainability and Environmental Sciences at Microsoft, we heard from the women who are leading the way in cleantech! During this time, we also set course for the “Next Decade of Climate Action”. We brought over 130 participants together for an Ideathon that resulted in a rich brainstorm that set forth a base for our future direction. The three key areas focused on were:
- Climate Issues
- The Future of WCS
- Careers in CleanTech
A top issue for us. The topic of WASTE came in as the most critical issue during our discussion. How do we rein in waste in plastics, in the food industry, and in the supply chain? This is something we will be focusing on in upcoming events and panel discussions to see how we can gather experts, address these concerns and propose solutions.
The Future of WCS
By far the predominant theme for this discussion was CONNECTING, both locally and globally. As mentioned, WCS plans to focus the expansion of our reach outside of the Bay Area and that has come as a result of this discussion. We were specifically called on to make a difference with more mentorship programs, cross-industry collaboration opportunities, outreach/marketing (job fairs, industry awards), and activities such as more workshops, impact projects, and influencing policy change. These are all things we are working towards and implementing into our future plans.
Careers in Cleantech
As many of you know, our job board is one of our most popular offerings. But posting available jobs is not the only thing we can do to help our members. How do we help address concerns and challenges of moving into a new career field? How do we help create new leaders in the industry? One of our goals is to foster discussions on mentorship and education to help tackle these challenges.
MEMBERSHIP SURVEY REVEALS KEY INSIGHTS
Earlier last year, we conducted our annual survey and gained some key insights into our membership base. We learned what our base is looking to accomplish in their careers, as well as how supported our members feel as women in the workplace. Driven by this data, along with other demographic and membership participation data we gathered, we have made recommendations when it comes to events, membership, and career + mentorship sectors that will guide us in the coming year to better position our organization to meet the needs of our members.
Take a look at some key insights we gathered below.
As mentioned, we have great optimism about what our organization can achieve in the next decade, not just for women in our industry, but for the future of our climate.
The IPCC report tells us in no uncertain terms that we have a short nine years to turn back the worst effects of climate change. Looking ahead, we welcome your ideas, feedback, and comments on how we can continue casting a wider net to advance our organization’s mission, and ultimately bring more people into our shared fight against climate change.