She has worked in the building and sustainability arenas for over two decades. More often than not, Esther An would find herself one of the few women in the room.
“Industries related to green building, technology, engineering and energy are in general male dominant,” says An, who is the Chief Sustainability Officer of real estate firm City Developments Limited (CDL).
Determined to give her counterparts a louder voice, she formed Women4Green in July 2017, the first network in Singapore for ladies working in the area of sustainability, under the auspices of CDL.
“We strongly believe that creating and expanding opportunities for women are fundamental to sustainable growth and will further advance our stakeholder engagement to build a sustainable future,” shares An.
“Women4Green hopes to harness the collective knowledge and expertise of successful female leaders to empower other women to incite meaningful change in their respective industries.”
The network aims to bring together women executives in the various green industries to contribute towards climate action, sustainable business and social change. It will be a hub for knowledge-sharing, networking and partnership.
“It brings women together to actively develop ideas, foster growth and engage the community to call for a future where all women and girls have equal opportunities and rights.”
On a macro level, Women4Green (and CDL, for that matter) is supporting the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 of achieving gender equality and empowerment of women.
To date, the network has gained itself an impressive list of supporters. They include Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, who was recently appointed to the UN High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation; Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council; and Christina Lee, founder & CEO of the Global Green Economic Forum.
“It is our privilege to have successful female leaders from various industries to voice their support of Women4Green’s mission. It is not a rigid society but a platform to enable knowledge sharing about sustainability through online sharing and regular events,” explains An.
Being part of the network means members can attend events on topics related to sustainable lifestyle and business practices. Setting the tone was the inaugural function in July, entitled “Sustainable Fashion”.
Organised in partnership with fashion brand H&M, it drew more than 100 women participants from diverse backgrounds, including bankers, lawyers, academics, senior executives from both public and private sectors, NGOs, youths and undergraduates.
Mabel Wong, Executive Director of CSR Asia and Women4Green Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, presented the Ethical Fashion Report 2017, published by Baptist World Aid Australia, that ranks 106 fashion brands based on their environmental and social impact.
Later, Wong Xin Yi, Sustainability Manager of H&M Southeast Asia, spoke about what a fashion company with a global presence can do to counter the fashion industry’s negative impact for a more sustainable future.
“The session provided an inspiring take on how one can shop for and dispose of their clothing responsibly,” shares An, revealing that the fashion industry is the second most polluting one after oil and gas.
It is not surprising that Women4Green has received encouraging responses and ideas on how to push on ahead. An reveals that quarterly lifestyle events are in the pipeline that will bring women together to build a “green force”.
“We believe that Women4Green will be on track towards empowering and engaging women to actively develop ideas, foster change and ultimately create a positive impact on the environment that will contribute towards a sustainable future.”
Women who are interested in contributing to the Women4Green network can share their thoughts via the CDL Sustainability Microsite.