‘Inspire Inclusion’ – Plumbers’ Company & International Women’s Day 2024

Women in the Livery (WIL)

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is #InspireInclusion: it seeks to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, as when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment for everyone.

Mistress Plumber Kathy Adams

With well over a century of history and change, the first International Women’s Day (IWD) was held in March 1911. IWD isn’t country, group, or organisation specific, it’s a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women’s equality.

Ask yourself:

  • When women aren’t present, we must ask: “If not, why not?”
  • When women are discriminated against, we must call out poor practice
  • When the treatment of women is not equitable, we must act
  • We must do this each time, every time
  • Organisations, groups, and individuals worldwide can all play a part in the community, at work, at home, and beyond

To truly include women means to openly embrace our diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image, and how we identify. Worldwide, women must be included in all fields of endeavour, and on an individual basis, it’s important to understand, value and seek out the inclusion of women and girls. Sharing this knowledge, support, and encouragement with others is key.

There are many ways to ensure the needs, interests, and aspirations of women and girls are valued and included. The Worshipful Company of Plumbers, and other organisations, can #InspireInclusion through action in areas such as:

  • Forging women’s economic empowerment
  • Recruiting, retaining and developing female talent
  • Supporting women and girls into leadership, decision-making, business and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
  • Providing women with access to quality education and training
  • Designing and building infrastructure meeting the needs of women and girls
  • Addressing further areas supporting the advancement of women

The Women in Livery (WIL) group was set up to promote inclusion and diversity within the Worshipful Company of Plumbers and this aspiration is becoming a reality. WIL asked the Mistress Plumber, and some of the newest members, to share their stories about why they chose to join the Company:

Mistress Plumber Kathy Adams

I was born and grew up in London. I studied French and Spanish at Exeter University where my husband David and I met. During my course, I lived in Madrid for a year, and after graduating I spent a year in Barcelona teaching English as a foreign language. When I returned to England, I worked as a translator for Johnnie Walker whisky, now a Diageo brand, focussing on Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian work. When David was offered the opportunity to move to Geneva in 1998, we lived there for almost seven years; it was a wonderful place to raise our three small children and my language skills were in daily use!

I am now a painter and printmaker, and run the Reigate branch of Conquest Art, a charity which provides art classes and a sociable creative space for people with disabilities to express themselves.

Since David became a Liveryman of the Plumbers’ Company, I have appreciated its traditions, its good works, and the friendliness of its members. In my current role as Mistress Plumber I have been delighted to discover the support and companionship of Consorts, male and female, in the wider Livery. I am thoroughly enjoying being involved in the Livery movement as I learn something new every day about the traditions as well as the modern relevance of the Livery Companies and the City of London. Behind the pomp and glittering social occasions, much work is being done to support the communities of the City and beyond, including educating young people, promoting diversity, supporting the disadvantaged and addressing the green challenge to achieve ‘net zero’.

Liveryman Air Commodore Barbara Cooper CBE, FCIPD, Pg Dip Strat HR, RAF (Ret’d)

Born in Canada, I grew up in Gloucestershire, where I still reside with my husband William.

In 1978, I joined the RAF aged 18 and served in both the air traffic control and personnel specialisations. Highlights include my role as Director personnel policy (operations and welfare) for the Royal Navy, Army, and RAF during the Gulf conflict in 2002-3 where I was responsible for setting up and heading the UK’s Prisoner of War Information Bureau, alongside the British Red Cross. I was also responsible for repatriation of our UK dead Service personnel, and was awarded a CBE on behalf of my small team. My final role in the Regular RAF was as Commandant Air Cadets, responsible for some 45,000 teenagers in the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force (RAF) around the UK.

Having served 32 years in the Regular RAF, I then spent 10 years as a part-time Reservist, dealing with Service complaints and appeals, retiring in 2023.

During the last 10 years, I have volunteered for a number of roles, including as a Senior member of Council for the National Trust and trusteeships of our local hospice, the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London, and the Queen Mary’s Roehampton Trust.

I became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers in 2023 in response to an appeal to improve diversity within the Company. I enjoy the friendship, wonderful events and outings, that remind me of my time in the Service. I also love that we support very worthwhile charities and many young people, including cadets from the 3 Services.

Liveryman Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green

I’m a pretty normal girl from Birmingham, who has been given the opportunity to do some truly amazing things.

I’ve worked in the NHS as a Healthcare Scientist for almost 20 years, specialising in Clinical Microbiology and Paediatrics, and later Infection Prevention and Control. I currently work as, I believe, the first Healthcare Scientist to take the role of Infection Control Doctor at a major English hospital. I also work as Trust Lead Healthcare Scientist, with leadership responsibility for over 700 scientists, and hold an Honorary Professorship at University College London. It was for this work that I was fortunate enough to be awarded the British Empire Medal as part of the New Years Honour list in 2021, and attend the Coronation of King Charles III in 2023.

I started out as a Zoology BSc student, who followed up with an MRes in the Physics of Biological Interactions at Surfaces, and an MSc in Clinical Microbiology. This diverse scientific background has meant that I have always maintained an interest in how buildings, design, and the environment in general work to moderate infection risk.

In 2015 I completed a PhD in the role of the environment in transmission of infection and on the back of this launched the Environment Network in order to address this often-forgotten transmission route. It was through this network and interest in buildings and water risk that I went onto meet many inspiring and highly knowledgeable women who were also members of the Livery, and who encouraged me to become a Liveryman in 2023.

I am passionate about the role of women in leadership and science, and how we can work together to address issues of under representation alongside gender specific challenges. I think the Women in the Livery group is a great space to work together in this area. I also write about all things infection and leadership as Girlymicro on the Girlymicrobiologist blog, and hope to support sharing and dissemination as part of this.

Liveryman Dr Carol Joseph

My first exposure to the merits of the Plumbers , Company was at the Mansion House Banquet in 2022. I was invited by a Past Master and a Liveryman, both of whom I had worked with during my career as a public health epidemiologist, specialising in water-related infections, such as Legionnaires’ disease. After a few glasses of excellent wine, together with the friendship and warmth of the people around me, their enthusiasm and commitment to the Company led me to be totally at home with the idea of joining them. I was accepted into the Plumbers in October 2022, after gaining the freedom of the City of London as the first Plumber to do so under King Charles III.

I live in London and am able to participate in many activities organised by the Company. I have really enjoyed the social functions, the visits organised by the Master and the opportunity to dine in the wonderful Livery halls in the city. After two years as a Liveryman, I believe that the Plumbers’ Company truly value their female Liverymen and I would encourage others to get involved whenever the opportunity arises.

Why join the Worhipful Company of Plumbers?

Read more about Membership of the Company.