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Clyde hosts first Naval Service Women’s Network Conference

8 June 2016
HM Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service, recently hosted a major event aimed at promoting inclusion and inspiring and empowering women in the Royal Navy.

The Naval Service Women’s Network (NSN) Conference was held on May 18 and attracted both men and women from the length and breadth of the military site. 

Around 120 attended the packed conference which was held in the Base’s Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess.

Introducing the event was Chair of the NSN, Captain Ellie Ablett, with Rear Admiral John Weale, Rear Admiral Submarines, welcoming the delegates to Clyde and commending organisers: Commander Lesley Stephen RNR and Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins RN of the Northern Region team. 

I hope that the sharing of information and experience has inspired and empowered those that attended and beyond.

Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins RN

The NSN is a professional network for women in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Maritime Reserves and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. 

Established to promote an inclusive culture, improve retention, and to enable individuals to achieve their full potential, the Clyde conference was the first to be held in the Northern Region. 

The assembly heard from a variety of speakers including: Commodore Ingra Kennedy, Inspector General for the Headquarters of the Surgeon General; Major Corinna Priest of the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps; Gail Broadhurst, Head of Hotel and Catering for Babcock Clyde; and the MOD Civil Service’s Morag Malcolm. 

Topics discussed included: women in combat, serving on HM Submarines, unconscious bias, mental health, and resilience. 

There were also a number of workshops featuring coaching and mentoring opportunities. 

In the afternoon, those attending heard from Minister for the Armed Forces, Penny Mordaunt MP, who made a virtual appearance to deliver a video message.

Celebrating the achievements of female personnel in the Armed Forces, she said:  “In the past few decades women have come a long way. 

“When I was growing up I never dreamed we would have women commanders and women submariners, or even Royal Navy personnel like Kate Nesbitt, winning the Military Cross for courage under fire. 

“Yet today our serving women are proving their mettle across the world.  They’re targeting Daesh in Iraq, maintaining the Continuous at Sea Deterrent and excelling in engineering, in medicine and in IT.”

She finished by congratulating Clyde on holding the inaugural conference, saying:  “You’re already riding the crest of a wave and with the numbers of women entering the submarine service I’d expect the female population of Faslane to keep raising. 

“As long as you continue celebrating, encouraging and inspiring those new recruits and all our women I’ve no doubt you’ll ensure that they are the very best they can be.”

The conference was closed by Nicola Williams, Service Complaints Ombudsman, who spoke about her career and experience. 

Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins, Commander of the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron and Vice Chair of the NSN Northern Region, said:  “The conference was a huge success. 

“There were many more attendees than we initially expected and the variety – men and women from the Naval Service, Army, Civil Service, MOD Police and Industry – demonstrated how inclusive the network is. 

“I hope that the sharing of information and experience has inspired and empowered those that attended and beyond.”

The Royal Navy was recently named as a leader of workplace gender equality, featuring in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2016. 

Organisations in the Top 50 have demonstrated that gender equality is a key part of their business strategy, with a consistent commitment to creating workplaces and cultures that are inclusive of women from entry level through to senior leadership.  

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