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Fresh and Live: The Women in Green Forum

Women in Green By Sarah-Jane George

Sustainability isn’t marginal anymore. Today, sustainability is moving to center stage and professional women are leading what amounts to a global green shift. Maximpact was on hand for the 4th Annual Women In Green Forum in Los Angeles to chart the change.

Founded in 2009 by Three Squares Inc., an environmental consulting firm from Santa Monica, Women in Green Forum (WIGF) is designed to attract professionals from all aspects of the environmental industry to share the latest innovations, develop powerful professional networks, and build upon each other’s successes. Attendees included business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, governmental department heads and a large number of women within sustainability departments of various companies. There was a broad spectrum of companies varying from the dental industry to aerospace, each with well-established sustainability departments.

The caliber of attendees proved that sustainability has come a long way. Gone are the days when the company receptionist was given responsibility to set up a few recycling bins in the office. Today, jobs in sustainability are the fastest growing type of role within many organizations. WIGF guest speaker Kim Matsoukas, sustainability manager at Vans, described how organizations in all industries are focusing on sustainability as good business practice. Industries such as apparel and fashion are trying to set their own industry standards, she said, with programs like the self-reporting Higg Index, part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

A lineup of inspiring speakers shows the range of WIGF:

Kabira Stokes, Founder; CEO of Isidore Electronics Recycling who has combined lessening the impact of electronic waste on the environment by recycling locally and offering jobs to people who suffer from severe barriers to work, specifically those previously incarcerated.

Monica Dodi, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Women’s Venture Capital Fund spoke about Funding Innovation in Sustainability. Ms. Dodi gave key points on what investors are looking for, and gave advice from an investor’s perspective to fund managers looking for potential investment. She highlighted that recent research has shown that 85%of women interviewed are highly dissatisfied with current sustainable products in the market and discussed how locking into what women are really want is a key to standing out.

Jaime Nack, President of Three Squares Inc. spoke about the importance of employee engagement, awarding employees for innovative sustainability ideas, encouraging actionable environment stewardship and measuring both the organization’s and its employee’s carbon footprints.

Michellene DeBonis, Co-founder of The Brand Studio closed the event with an entertaining talk on utilizing the power of story to enhance an organization’s brand.

A lineup of inspiring speakers at the Los Angeles WIGF.

Multimedia was at the forefront with moving short films from GE Focus Forward Films: New Gift tells the story of Dr. Vandana Shiva who believes seed is a gift of life and the Invisible Bicycle Helmet, a documentary by Frederick Gertton about the two women who developed a revolutionary new product. The short feature Black Girls Code focused on an organization created to teach coding to girls and so increase the number of women of color in the digital industry.

WIGF and Care2 presented trailblazer awards to inspiring women like Dr. Sylvia Earle Founder of Mission Blue. Dr. Earle explained her work and the importance of endangered areas of the ocean she calls “hope spots”, which if protected there is hope that they will be restored.

With so much to offer, The Women in Green Forum is going from strength to strength. This year will see the bicoastal expansion of the WIGF series with their upcoming East Coast Forum, which will be in Washington, DC on September 25th 2013. To register for this upcoming event, click here.

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