08 March 2019 by Vanessa Griffiths
On International Women’s Day 2019, Ramblers CEO Vanessa Griffiths, Ramblers Scotland director Jess Dolan, and Ramblers Cymru director Angela Charlton discuss the charity’s working culture and being part of a majority female Senior Leadership Team.
I have been Chief Executive at the Ramblers since November 2016. The Ramblers is an extraordinary campaigning organisation which aims to help everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot and protects walkers’ rights. As a passionate walker, it is a privilege to work for such a fantastic cause, as part of a terrific team.
I want our charity to be a truly great place to work and to volunteer. I value diversity, inclusion and personal development highly and I am fortunate to be supported by a Senior Leadership Team made up of six driven and creative women and one equally brilliant, if slightly outnumbered, man.
Our Directors and Heads of Department come from a range of backgrounds and possess a variety of skills and experiences, which are helping us to move this wonderful organisation in an exciting direction.
The Senior Leadership team speak regularly, meet informally on a weekly basis, and formally once a month, to discuss upcoming projects and key issues, on which we work together effectively. Most crucially, we all sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the culture we want to nurture at the Ramblers.
The diversity and positivity of our senior staff helps to encourage the creative and supportive atmosphere in which our team can grow both professionally and personally, regardless of gender. Having generous, knowledgeable and approachable women and men in leadership positions and mentoring roles is vital to this.
We recognise we have a long way to go, but we are determined to nurture and support an open and inclusive culture, where everyone is welcome and can be themselves, both in our staff offices in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, and in our volunteer led groups across Great Britain.
I believe that we are going in the right direction and, moving on from the outdated stereotypes and past misperceptions of ‘The Typical Rambler’. Walking is a joyful, everyday activity, and something that is for everyone, irrespective of gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability, ethnicity or religion.
So, on such an important awareness day, let us celebrate the huge number of incredible women across England, Scotland and Wales who help to make the Ramblers who we are and who are working together with colleagues across Great Britain to help everyone, everywhere find their feet and enjoy the benefits of walking.
I’m proud to be the first female director of Ramblers Scotland and part of a Ramblers GB senior leadership team that includes six inspiring women.
Walking is the number one activity for women and girls in Scotland, and 63% of our Scottish members are female. Yet we know there is still work to do to break down the real, specific barriers stopping women getting active outdoors.
I’m particularly excited to be working with sportscotland and other partners to address those challenges. Indeed, more than three-quarters of the participants in our Walk Leadership Essentials training course have been women – and we’ve some exciting new projects in the pipeline to help get even more women walking with confidence.
From a very young age I could always be found in the great outdoors walking, climbing, mountaineering or even dog sledging. I have naturally evolved and been encouraged into my role as Director of Ramblers Cymru, and I’m now in my 11th year.
One of my priorities has always been to encourage women and girls to be ambitious and support them in achieving their goals, as much in the outdoors as with their careers. I always encourage our staff and members to seize opportunities and step out of their comfort zones to build their skills and confidence.
Not only does Ramblers Cymru train many women to become walk leaders, we have also pledged to have a 50/50 gender split on our executive committee by 2020, which is an exciting prospect.
Find out more about how the Ramblers are run.