‘I’m very proud to be a part of an organisation that supports women to thrive’

Danni Barnes, Director of Development and Partnerships at National Energy Action, and member of the Senior Management Team, explains why International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to empowerment, equality, and inclusion.

Today is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the achievements of women everywhere and to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable future. 

For me, this day holds special significance as a senior manager in a national charity, which thankfully prioritises flexibility and gender equality. 

I’m very proud to be a small part of an organisation that supports women to thrive, and working alongside a team of exceptional women who build each other up and offer support to others, each and every day. 

While studying law, I discovered my passion for making a positive difference in people’s lives through volunteering at a local advice charity. This experience inspired me to pursue a career at a national charity, where I could continue to contribute to meaningful change on a larger scale.

Being a woman in leadership can often mean confronting gender pay discrepancies, unconscious bias, and the struggle for visibility, especially in male-dominated sectors like energy. To work at a place where women are well represented across the whole organisation, especially across our leadership team is uplifting. It’s easy to forget that this remains an exception rather than the norm. 

One of the largest challenges I faced as a woman was becoming a parent while trying to sustain and succeed in a senior high-pressure role. Dealing with the mental load of parenting along with always turning up to work fully focused has been a constant balance. I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for working in an organisation like National Energy Action.

It remains the case that women in a household typically shoulder more of the caring responsibilities, so flexibility enables them to thrive both at home and in work. 

We must offer flexibility to all employees

We must afford men similar flexibility so they can offer equal support. Despite a lot of progress, it’s still often mothers who are perceived as the default parents – the ones who can drop everything to look after a sick child, be available for school holidays and so on. Offering flexibility to all employees recognises that it doesn’t have to be this way.

If I could ask for one thing this International Women’s Day, it would be for organisations to prioritise initiatives that promote gender equality, support women’s empowerment and offer leadership development opportunities. Policies promoting work-life balance are essential steps towards a more equitable future. 

More diversity across leadership is essential. True inclusivity goes beyond gender representation but includes living experiences of socioeconomic issues and systemic barriers faced by many diverse communities across the UK.

Inclusivity and diversity pave the way for a richer understanding of how we solve some of the challenges facing our society and we must embrace them wholeheartedly.

On International Women’s Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to empowerment, equality, and inclusion. Together, we can continue to challenge barriers, uplift voices, and create a world where every woman has the opportunity to thrive.