Today is International Women’s Day – the global day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The World Green Building Council and our global network of Green Building Councils in over 70 countries are proud to be supporting this day.
Today we’re taking the opportunity to highlight the major role that women are playing in leading our global green building movement. In fact, nearly 50 per cent of our Established Green Building Councils (the most advanced Councils, representing the top tier of WorldGBC membership) are led by women!
This is all the more remarkable given that the building and construction industry is traditionally a male-dominated sector. The picture varies from country to country, but statistics show that:
- Women make up only 11 per cent of the construction workforce in the UK (according to UCATT), in Mexico (according to INEGI), in France, and in South Africa (according to Statistics South Africa).
- 52 per cent of the Australian property industry is female, but just 28 per cent of leaders are women, according to the Property Council of Australia
- Worldwide, women occupy 10 per cent of jobs in the construction industry, according to the World Economic Forum.
We asked the female leaders of our Established Green Building Councils a series of questions on the leadership roles that women are playing in the green building industry and on climate change issues. Below are their answers (edited for length):
Why does it matter that we have women leaders combating climate change?
“It matters because women are generally viewed as nurturers. It is in our nature to care for and protect. Therefore women are well placed to initiate and implement impactful and ambitious climate change action. This does not in any way negate the role of men in climate change action.” – Dorah Modise, CEO, Green Building Council South Africa
“When climate change impacts humankind, it does not discriminate between men and women.” – Lora Shrake, Operations Director, Emirates Green Building Council
“Combating climate change will require all leaders to take action – no matter what gender, status, race or religion. If we didn’t have women leaders combating climate change we would not succeed in making the scale and pace of change needed to achieve a 2 degrees world.” – Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UK Green Building Council
“Having women as leaders is important because it enables the identification of a larger number of individuals, and it brings a different way to look at solutions, different needs and an enrichment to act.” – Anne-Sophie Perrissin, Director, Association HQE – France Green Building Council
“The world needs more women leaders in the sustainable development and environmental protection arena in order to scale up the achievement of goals set forth by the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). True and lasting change will be incomplete without women participating.” – Cristina Gamboa, CEO, Colombia Green Building Council
“To combat climate change we need to engage all bright heads, not only half of them. I think women may have other perspectives that enrichen the debate and search for innovative, sustainable solutions.” – Kjersti Folvik, CEO, Norwegian Green Building Council
What are the most important things that we can do to ensure women are occupying senior leadership roles in the green building industry?
“The newest generations tend to have a better balance between men and women in the construction and real estate sector. Applying gender equality rules is efficient to grant easier access to leading positions for women. It is mandatory in France for all elections and all boards of listed companies.” – Anne-Sophie Perrissin, Director, Association HQE – France Green Building Council
“Value diversity in the voice women bring to the green building industry which complements and challenges a traditionally male led industry.” – Cristina Gamboa, CEO, Colombia Green Building Council
“We need more qualified women on corporate boards – and we need boards to value the sustainable thinking that that women bring to the table. We need rising stars to show how the construction industry can provide challenging and rewarding career options that also make a positive social and environmental impact.” – Romilly Madew, CEO, Green Building Council Australia
“We must generate a spirit of recognition, respect, and equal opportunities for both men and women, creating the path to leadership roles in our industry. We must also create the infrastructure that will allow women to be the designers of their own lives, instead of forcing them to choose between family life and professional life.” – Alejandra Cabrera, Executive Director, Sustentabilidad para México AC
“The situation is not the same in every country, so it is very important to elevate women’s position as relevant, competent and successful leaders in the green building industry around the world.” – Snježana Turalija, Executive Director, Croatia Green Building Council
“We need to redefine the leader role to break down the stereotype that a leader is a man in a suit working long days– at the necessary expense of family life. The modern and future leader, regardless of gender, is a leader with a healthy work-life balance.” – Kjersti Folvik, CEO, Norwegian Green Building Council
Who do you see as other inspirational women who are leading on green building and climate change issues in your country?
“There are lots of inspirational women in Germany who are leading on green building and climate change issues. There is for example Prof. Annett-Maud Joppien, the Vice-President of the DGNB Board; She is an architect and a professor; her projects and ideas are driven by a great understanding on sustainability and the need for innovation.” – Christine Lemaitre, CEO, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.
“Patricia Espinoza, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – she’s the first Mexican woman to be in this position.” – Alejandra Cabrera, Executive Director, Sustentabilidad para México AC
“Andrea Guerrero, the Colombian negotiator for the Paris Agreement. In 2011 she recognised the importance of including cities and construction in the green growth and low carbon development strategy, and relied on the Colombia Green Building Council to move this agenda forward.” – Cristina Gamboa, CEO, Colombia Green Building Council
“Our first Croatia GBC president, member and collaborator Vedrana Likan, CEO at Colliers International Croatia, is my top mentor and market change leader in the green real estate movement.” – Snježana Turalija, Executive Director, Croatia Green Building Council
“There are too many women to mention – on our board alone are Kylie Rampa from Lendlease, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz from Mirvac, Anna Skarbek from ClimateWorks and our board chair, Tanya Cox. These women inspire me every day.” – Romilly Madew, CEO, Green Building Council Australia
“I am proud to say our Ministry of Environment is led by a woman, Elsa Galarza Contreras. She is a highly educated professional with ample experience on both the private and public sector on an international level.” – Francesa Mayer Martinelli, CEO, Peru Green Building Council
Here is a full list of female leaders from our Established Green Building Councils:
- Romilly Madew, CEO, Green Building Council Australia
- Snježana Turalija, Executive Director, Croatia Green Building Council
- Cristina Gamboa, CEO, Colombia Green Building Council
- Christine Lemaitre, CEO, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.
- Annemarie van Doorn, Director, Dutch Green Building Council
- Lora Shrake, Operations Director, Emirates Green Building Council
- Anne-Sophie Perrissin, Director, Association HQE – France Green Building Council
- Belem Salomon, Executive Director, Guatemala Green Building Council
- Ala’a Abdullah, Deputy Executive Director, Jordan Green Building Council
- Alejandra Cabrera, Executive Director, Sustentabilidad para México AC
- Kjersti Folvik, CEO, Norwegian Green Building Council
- Francesa Mayer Martinelli, CEO, Peru Green Building Council
- Alicja Kuczera, CEO, Polish Green Building Council
- Yvonne Sohm Executive Director, Singapore Green Building Council
- Dorah Modise, CEO, Green Building Council South Africa
- Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UK Green Building Council
We’ll be tweeting throughout the day using the official International Women’s Day hashtag #BeBoldForChange, and the C40 Cities hashtag #Women4Climate, which is part of the Women4Climate initiative.
You can also read this blog by Romilly Madew, CEO, Green Building Council Australia.
Please join us in celebrating the role of women in our global green building movement!