Inspirational Women: Lucy Arndt
Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day 2023 and have chosen to highlight a wonderful selection of truly inspirational women who are vital members of the commercial interiors sector, each playing a different role. We spoke with Lucy Arndt about being an inspiration to others, the women she celebrates, the advice she gives as a mentor and the potential impact of greater gender equality on her work.
Please could you introduce yourself and your role?
I am Head of Sustainability at Dodds & Shute, where I lead our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy to ensure not only our business is best in class but we also help our clients achieve their goals. Our vision is for the design industry to be beautiful inside and out. We work to deeply understand the impact of the FF&E suppliers we work with and their products, in order to source the most sustainable products for our office, hotel, residential and restaurant clients.
I have worked in sustainability for over a decade, spanning various roles and industries such as leading a team to achieve 40 million tonnes of carbon avoided through climate finance by helping companies such as Shell, British Airways, Chanel, L’Oréal and Ben & Jerry’s implement net zero; impact reporting and climate action within a FTSE top-10 oil and gas company; and forest conservation in Kenya.
What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?
It’s very hard to see myself as inspirational to others! But I’m honoured if I can do my small bit to motivate people to take action on sustainability and climate change, in their personal lives and professional capacity. My mission is to show that solutions are available, change is possible, and the future vision is a better world. I think there can be a lot of doom and gloom around the current state of the world and the scale of change that is needed, but I see this challenge as an opportunity and want to help others to also see it this way.
Which inspirational women do you celebrate?
One of my long-term heroes is Christiana Figueres, who was head of the UN climate change convention that achieved the 2015 Paris Agreement. Not only is this work widely recognised as a historical achievement for climate action, but it was inspiring to have this process led by a woman. Being there in Paris, I loved seeing her corral the (let’s be honest) nearly all male world leaders into a climate deal.
I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with Christiana Figueres professionally. I am impressed that, despite her global fame, she is down-to-earth, looks you in the eye in a way that makes you feel heard, and is stubbornly optimistic, despite the enormity of the challenge of climate action. I hope to emulate this attitude!
What are three pieces of advice you give to the women you mentor?
From my experience, by following your own strengths and passions you will be more successful, rather than doing what you or others think you should do. When I was studying sustainable development, some people close to me expressed concern that it wasn’t a real degree, so I wouldn’t get a real job. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish, doing what gives me purpose, rather than chasing money or a traditional ‘career’.
I was once advised that my generation would have seven careers (not jobs)! This freed me from thinking every job had to be ‘the one’. Careers are non-linear and it’s often in hindsight that your professional path tells a story. So, take that job that is good experience and a challenge, work hard and learn from others.
Stand up for yourself. If you believe you should be earning more or taking on more responsibility, make a case for it. Other people do it all the time!
Would greater gender equality create a more sustainable future for our sector and what would that entail?
Absolutely! Sustainability is all about collaboration, championing change, strong communication and problem solving all of which are capabilities that recent research shows women leaders are rated higher on during a crisis (which we are currently in from a climate and biodiversity perspective). On the flip side, globally, women often bear the brunt of climate change impacts, pollution, poverty, and many other issues. Therefore, the female perspective is critical to developing and implementing effective solutions to systemic sustainability issues.