International Women’s Day – Championing our women in the renewables sector
8th March 2023
Today marks International Women’s Day (IWD) – a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and to champion gender equality.
At MCS, we believe that it’s important to celebrate the achievements, ideas and work that women bring to the renewables sector. We are very proud that over 60% of women make up the MCS team, something we know is outside the norm for the male-dominated industry. We advocate for equality across the sector and want to highlight the brilliant work that our fantastic women colleagues do every day!
The theme for IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity – a campaign designed to shift the focus beyond equality, where people are given the same resources or opportunities, to equity, which recognises the unique circumstances of each person. Equity allocates resources and opportunities to people in accordance with their needs, therefore creating the foundation for true equality.
Learn about our phenomenal women
Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with four amazing women who work within the MCS team:
- Alex Hughes, Scheme Manager
- Lucy McKenzie, Technical Officer
- Lisa Cooke, Operations and Communications Director
- Sheila Burns, Senior Helpdesk Analyst.
They shared their experiences as women in the renewable energy industry and what changes they would like to see to promote even more gender inclusivity and equity.
Let’s hear what they’ve got to say on this International Women’s Day!
What is your role at MCS?
(Alex): As Scheme Manager, I’m responsible for overseeing the scheme’s operations and processes. This includes engaging with our scheme operators (also known as our certification bodies) to ensure successful delivery of the scheme.
(Lucy): I am Technical Officer for MCS. I develop and maintain our technical standards, support scheme development, and offer technical consultancy to both internal and external stakeholders.
(Sheila): As Senior Helpdesk Analyst, I support the rest of the Helpdesk team with calls, systems, complaints and everything in between!
(Lisa): I am Operations and Communications Director and a member of the Senior Leadership Team. My role is broad and spans across leading our communications, people and culture, Helpdesk and scheme management functions.
How did you come to work for MCS?
(Alex): Prior to joining the MCS team, I studied Geology at the University of Liverpool. This allowed me to expand my knowledge of climate change and understand what the short and long-term impacts are. After graduating university, while I was applying for different roles in the environmental sector, I was approached with an exciting opportunity to begin working at MCS as a Helpdesk Analyst. That was over four years ago now!
(Lucy): Despite always being passionate about the environment, after university I admittedly fell into a quality control role within the oil and gas industry. After three years in the role, I decided to explore a future in the production of cleaner energy. I began studying for a master’s in Environmental Engineering and was then over the moon when I was hired as Technical Officer by MCS halfway through my studies.
(Sheila): Before joining MCS, I worked as a team leader in a commercial waste management company for 12 years! Starting at MCS was an amazing change – I was empowered, encouraged, and supported by all my colleagues, which did wonders for my confidence!
(Lisa): I was approached by our CEO, Ian, for a role to lead the communications function for the Scheme. I’d previously worked alongside Ian in another role, so I knew and liked his leadership style and knew we’d work well together. I originally came on board as Communications Director (and as employee number 3!) and led on the rebrand of MCS, as well as supporting the growth of the organisation to where we are now.
What is it like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?
(Alex): There may be more women working in the renewable energy sector than ever before, but it remains a male-dominated industry. I’m proud that MCS is somewhat an exception in the sector, with women making up more than 60% of the MCS team! I’m very happy to say that I work for a company that creates an inclusive environment for all voices to be heard.
(Sheila): I loved joining an industry that was male dominated – it challenged me personally to be the best I can be. During my time at MCS, I have taken great pride in being able to fit in and hold my own with consumers and contractors alike. There are still a small number of people in the industry that can be quite taken aback with hearing a woman on the other end of the phone, but they soon realise that I know what I am talking about!
(Lucy): At times, it could feel intimidating joining meetings that were made up of predominately men, particularly as I work closely with technical specialists, including installers and manufacturers, where there are very few women within those roles. However, I have only ever been made to feel welcomed and respected by everyone I have worked with in the industry. Since joining MCS, I have been assigned many high-responsibility tasks, such as presenting at external working groups with large numbers of industry experts in attendance. By providing that trust in me, not only does it build on my confidence, but also promotes women in STEM roles.
(Lisa): To be honest, and I have to give a shout-out to some of the fantastic, supportive men that who I have the pleasure of working with and who have supported me throughout my career. During my time at MCS, I’ve been supported to grow and develop and thanks to the incredibly supportive environment, created by our CEO. For example, I came back from maternity leave to a promotion, and I’m given the freedom to work flexibly around my childcare needs. We’ve recently launched a new range of policies that empower our workforce and soon I’ll be embarking on a mini-MBA thanks to the investment we make in training and development.
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
(Lucy): It would be great to see an increase in women working in the renewables sector, especially in STEM roles like mine, which are particularly dominated by men. I urge any women who enjoy engineering to follow their passion with the goal to create a new norm of gender diversity.
(Sheila): I would love to see more women in the industry, especially in technical roles as Lucy mentions. I feel that we should be encouraging women to pursue careers in renewable energy through interactive workshops aimed at young students at college and even school level.
(Alex): I would like to see the gender gap closed more within the renewable energy industry, with more women adopting senior roles within the sector. This is because women in senior roles are role models for women who are in earlier stages of their careers, which boosts aspirations. For this to happen, there needs to be more inclusive work cultures across the sector that accommodate flexible work arrangements and mentorship/professional development opportunities for women.
(Lisa): I’m really proud to see how ‘disruptive’ MCS has been as an employer in the industry – our workforce is 60% female, we champion ‘home-grown’ talent, we try hard to support our local communities and we are on a mission to transform the sector. We innovate, stretch and challenge and it’s great to see the positive impact that this is having. Small-scale renewables can and should be accessible and understandable to all. We need to acknowledge the positive role that women are playing in the industry, which can empower more women to join.
The theme of this year’s IWD is #EmbraceEquity – what does equity mean to you?
(Sheila): Embracing equity means equal opportunities for everyone. It’s about being valued for my personal contributions and not be measured against the standard expectations.
(Alex): Yes, equity means equal opportunities for everyone, no matter your gender, race, age, etc. It’s important to recognise that not everyone starts at the same place or has the same needs, but everyone deserves fair treatment and access – especially when forging a career. MCS has worked hard to create an equitable workplace environment, fostering a culture where all staff are valued and supported.
(Lucy): Equity means giving all people, no matter their background, race, or gender, an equal opportunity in showing their potential and supporting their personal development. This can mean offering more diversity in work tasks to provide employees with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge while also supporting their aspirations. This is something I would say MCS is brilliant at. We recognise that by empowering all employees to be their best, we will create an excellent work culture, which in turn has a huge effect on business performance.
(Lisa): For me it’s about recognising that everyone has individual needs and requirements – and that they won’t always necessarily be open or vocal about this. So, it’s important to be aware of others and appreciate that someone might need a different kind of support, resource, or opportunity to achieve an equal outcome, and most importantly that we should provide that equity.
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