Following this year’s International Women’s Day, we’ve interviewed some of the faces behind the communication strategies of our industry. People who work daily to demonstrate the effort of an industry towards climate goals, such as decarbonisation and electrification, while sharing messages of the industry’s work to achieve sustainable targets, science progress and innovation.
These are the professionals who are responsible for the communications of a long-standing industry, so essential in the digital world. They deal with a considerable amount of daily information and they’re able to transform the complex world of science to policymakers, business people and citizens in dynamic and understandable ways. And guess what? Many of them are women!
But why is it that the role of comms has become more important than ever? And what can these experts in the field tell us about the relevance of “sci-comms”?
According to Tammy Stankey, Director of Communications at The Doe Run Company, innovation in comunication is key in order to be modern and relevant, whilst for Fareha Lasker, Communications Manager at the International Lead Association, these are very exciting times to work for the lead and lead battery industry:
"The industry presents a dream messaging scenario — huge market demand combined with a key role for our technologies in the clean future of the planet means it’s a time of obvious and great opportunity. We know that the next 10 years will see unprecedented growth in demand for battery energy storage to support a clean energy future and that advanced lead batteries have a key role to play in applications which will enable rapid electrification of our economy and society".
The group agreed that it’s "essential" for investment in the industry’s comms departments, and as Niamh Owen-McLaughlin, Communications and Digital Manager at CBI, explained, it’s about telling a story of an experienced industry that has witnessed not only evolution but also "innovation, progress and research" and it’s also important to share the "importance of the technology" for the future :
"Without comms, a lot of our stakeholders would never hear the story of innovation that we have to tell, and would never think of advanced lead batteries as a technology which is used all over the world for clean energy storage, for vehicles, for low-emission vehicles and in so many more applications".
Tammy gave an example on how a strong comms department brings even more success to the industry :
"When I first became involved in the industry I was invited to sit on the Public Affairs and Marketing committee of what was then the ALABC (now CBI). As a communications professional it was obvious to me that our industry was suffering from a lack of visibility. Our committee pushed hard to have demonstration projects promoted at high-profile events such as The Battery Show. The greater visibility that these projects received, the more interest was created among companies to fund basic science research and demonstration projects. The effort is paying off, as we now see government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Energy) proactively reaching out to our industry to identify the greatest opportunities for research and technology development to support the Energy Storage Grand Challenge".
But how is comms driving innovation in the industry?
"The more that we can communicate the innovation underway in lead batteries, driven by the efforts of the global lead battery industry, the more we can increase funding and opportunities for further research and development. We are showing that our technology is not one of the past but instead one that is currently used all over the world in so many diverse and critical applications, and that we’re confident through continued research that the innovation journey lead batteries are on has only just begun", Niamh continued.
Considering the amount of legislative and regulatory proposals in the pipeline around the world designed to improve and accelerate sustainable technologies, "by communicating the innovation in lead and lead batteries across many of these – from lead cables enabling wind power to lead batteries supporting EVs – we are ensuring our industries stand out among those. Communicators across our industry are successfully bringing together the right influencers across policymakers, regulators and industry to understand and appreciate that we are part of the innovative solutions to achieving their low carbon goals. In keeping us at the front of their minds, we’re ensuring we remain at the heart of the energy transition", completed Fareha.
Progress in the industry should also target goals of diversity within the workforce, as Lisa Dry, Vice President of Strategic Communications - Battery Council International and Essential Energy Everyday, explained :
"BCI’s leadership has recognized that the lead battery and recycling industry needs to reflect a more diverse and inclusive culture. One step in that direction is the new Women in the Global Battery Industry professional organization to help women in the industry grow their careers. Studies show that women are better employees than men in several categories including organizational development and coaching talent. At a time when the competition for employees is fierce, it’s critically important to help current employees reach their maximum potential."
There’s clearly a common desire to see more women working for the industry and reaching leadership positions, but to attract and retain bright minds we must be willing to reach out to a more diverse audience, something that the industry is very open to do:
"I have seen firsthand how open and welcoming the industry is to others and I have personally benefited from the comradery of the industry by getting involved. This has allowed me access to participate in various committees and even the executive committees of associations. I encourage other woman to look for opportunities to share their expertise and build their network in this industry", added Tammy.
Sci-comms is critical to demonstrate the innovation underway in our industry, and these communicators are responsible for sharing accurate messages in times where misinformation is a trend. This is our tribute to each and every professional behind a strategic comms role in the scientific field, where diversity is still not a reality.