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The Equal by 30 Campaign

The NRCan-led Equal by 30 campaign, launched in May under the banner of the international Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), is an international framework that asks companies and governments to endorse principles, then take action in service of a common goal: Make gender equality central to the transition to a clean energy future by promoting equal pay, opportunity and leadership for women.

Figure 1: The launch of the Equal by 30 Campaign at the 9th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM9)

Thanks to a multidisciplinary team, and a campaign model that empowers others to act on our behalf, Equal by 30 shows that talent isn’t about having excellent people in one place, but about creating space so that extraordinary talent can convene and be mobilized.

The campaign centers around a clear policy problematique: Worldwide, women continue to be underrepresented in energy and clean energy, where participation rates are 25 and 35 percent respectively. Canada’s clean energy figure is lower by comparison, at only 25 percent.

The Generation Energy vision tells us that inclusiveness will be fundamental to success, and across Canada, stakeholders who contributed to that vision have made it clear the time to act is now. In that sense, the path had been well paved by the department even before the campaign launched, and gave us a window to take this vision to the international stage, as hosts of the CEM in 2019.

Socializing the campaign early on also helped to set the stage for inclusiveness; we asked for help, sought advice and told our story. Colleagues and senior leaders helped us tap into resources, introduced us to allies who could teach and challenge us and helped us refine the story. Sometimes, we faltered. We learned from that, too.

Our first major milestone involved finding the very first signatories before the campaign launch. We knew a few countries would be on board – Italy, Sweden and Finland – but the point was to capture all players working on this global transition.  Moreover, industry signatories would help validate the campaign domestically, setting an example we hoped others would follow.

When we asked how we could help them, they told us that once we created a common space, they would be willing to gather within it. And once there, we could expect that they would establish real, concrete commitments. They would report on their progress. They would even teach others. We listened carefully.

"I’m most proud of how we operate as a team, and how we consider ourselves leaders, even if we’re not all that senior. We really do try to walk the walk, and to invest as much in others as we want them to invest in us.”
- Kym Shumsky
Senior Policy Analyst

And then we acted. First, we worked hard to develop products and materials that could be adapted quickly, and delivered by many different leaders, from both public and private sector.  Using tools both old and new, we developed a visual identity, and pulled those elements through our work, creating various materials and a web presence that conveyed a consistent and compelling narrative. It worked; industry began to sign on, including major players like Écotech Quebec and NRStor, and the Canadian Hydropower Association. And the list continues to grow.

To make it relevant to them, we asked people to take on important roles. Ambassador Isabelle Hudon, who prepared a launch video for the campaign, and has been a strong promoter of our story brought credibility to a campaign still finding legs. She, like many other senior leaders, have carried our story halfway around the world, in the hopes of introducing our work to even one new partner.

With goodwill on our side, we started the next phase of our work – finding the fulcrum. These intersecting points across our organization were where Equal by 30 could enhance common priorities, and bring people together. We knew the G7 Energy Ministerial was one we needed to capitalize on – a potential opportunity that couldn’t be missed. We asked for a role. We got one.

None of us expected that Equal by 30 would be endorsed by all of the world’s most powerful economies. But we resolved to ask anyway, because we believed in our cause, and we had done the work to build and nurture relationships along the way. Consensus from our international partners tells us it was worth the risk.

Agile, inclusive, equipped – watchwords for the public service we are becoming, but altogether familiar lessons for any public servant who believes in service to Canada, above all. To us, Equal by 30 has been the proof of concept – the real-life example of how a small but determined group of people can bring about a sea of change that makes us much more able to meet Canadians wherever they stand.

To earn their trust, through hard work, and a reputation for excellence. An old lesson, ready to be learned anew.

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