Focus on: The Women’s Network - a conduit for confidence

Empowering people and releasing potential

We’re not just committed to building a more diverse workforce - we work hard to support and develop the careers of our employees for an equal opportunities future for all.

That’s why, in 2009, we founded our own Women’s Network, providing one-to-one mentoring, career-development programmes, and regular coaching events for all women working as part of EDF Energy.

What’s it about?

Karen Govier, Chair of the Women’s Network says that it was the first; and still the largest EDF Energy employee network. The network supports the personal and career development of women at EDF Energy, as well as recruiting and retaining talented women who can excel here. The fundamental purpose is to empower people and enable potential, so everyone can achieve their goals.

How does it work?

There are now more than 900 members of the Women’s Network across our company, one of whom is Safety Case Engineer, Hannah Day. We caught up with Hannah to hear her story, and find out what the Women’s Network means to her:

“One of my colleagues got me involved with the network. She was already a member, and asked me if I wanted to help with organising some events. Somehow, from there, I found myself on the committee! I’ve found it really interesting.

“The best thing about the Women’s Network is that it’s for everyone, but it’s very good at focussing on particular areas where women might not naturally feel that they have strengths in the workplace. There are courses in leadership, self-awareness, returning from maternity leave, and self-improvement - whatever people need to do get the most out of their career.

“I came in feeling worried that I wouldn’t do something right, but I’ve been on courses that helped me build up my confidence to the level it should be. Now I even work with my old secondary school and do science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) events for the students. If the students don’t have that person there to inspire them and get them excited about science, then I’d like to be that person.”

Our number one goal with the Women’s Network is the creation of a working environment that nurtures growth and guides employees at every step of their career. The network also includes many men, including Des Uminski; a dedicated Fuel Route Manager at Hinkley Point, has been acting as a mentor for the network and finds it a constant source of inspiration. Des says:

“I admire people that knuckle down and get on with it. You can apply that to most women in science and engineering. They are really under-represented and sometimes they have to fight to get recognised for their work. Most people just need a bit of encouragement and self-belief to unlock their full potential. Hopefully, the women I mentor get something out of the process, and I always learn something from them.”

Mentors, like Des, can come from any part of the business and require no special training - only that they be good listeners.

Is it getting results?

In the years since it began, our Women’s Network has gone from strength to strength, and shows no sign of slowing down. More and more people are taking an active role in creating a culture of equality at work.

Earlier this year, the Network partnered with SmartWorks to run Suit Drives at many of our sites. SmartWorks provide high quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to out-of-work women on low incomes helping them to feel confident, look professional, and succeed at job interviews. In 2015 alone, this scheme will dress more than 2,000 women in a complete outfit of stylish, high quality clothes donated by retailers and professionals. The amount of donations collected at each site was phenomenal, and plans are already in place for next year.

This is just one more example of how a small investment of time from individual employees, multiplied by a huge commitment from our organisation, results in a meaningful impact on the lives of women. That’s what we’re working for.

For more information, contact the Women’s Network on womensnetwork@edfenergy.com.

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