‘Improving diversity is a priority at Greenpeace which resonates with me’

Kotrina started at Greenpeace as a volunteer, before rapidly gaining a role in human resources. She talks about leading yoga classes at work, the incredible opportunity to meet the Munduruku, an Indigenous group from Brazil, and how her Lithuanian roots connect her to nature.

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I’ve always been interested in protecting nature and fighting environmental injustice, which I think comes from the fact that I was born in Lithuania. Lithuanian people are very connected to nature. We do a lot of wild swimming in the summer and spend a lot of time in the forest picking berries and mushrooms, even drinking sap from trees.

When I moved to London a few years ago, I immediately signed up to volunteer with Greenpeace, although it was a few years until I got my first role. I was working full time in a walking tour company, but I reached a point where I felt that I needed to do something with a higher purpose.

Incredibly, the day after I quit that job, I received an email from Greenpeace looking for someone to volunteer. I started by helping out with admin work and after a few months the recruitment assistant role became available. I am now the HR coordinator and I’ve been here for four years.

Since working for Greenpeace I have had so many incredible opportunities. I’ve had training on public speaking, time management, mental health first aid, and career coaching. This has helped me gain people management skills and better understand how I can develop within my role.

Kotrina appreciates the focus on happiness and wellbeing at Greenpeace © Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

I also recently qualified as a yoga teacher, so I have been leading some yoga classes at work for my colleagues and I sometimes lead relaxation activities for our wellbeing group. I’m very interested in the philosophy of happiness and what actually makes people happy, like kindness and connection with people. I think it’s important that Greenpeace puts a focus on this at work.

Improving diversity and inclusion is a key priority at Greenpeace, which is a focus that resonates personally with me. As a non-native speaker of English, I often worry when having professional discussions that if there are mistakes in my grammar my argument won’t be as credible. Research has shown that people who speak with foreign accents, and even some regional British accents, are perceived as less competent because of unintentional stereotypes.

We all have unconscious biases, so it’s really reassuring that right now Greenpeace is working on this. I definitely feel more comfortable working in a diverse team and am more likely to contribute to conversations.

One of the most incredible experiences for me since working here was when a group of Munduruku people, who are indigenous to the Brazilian Amazon, came to visit us. Greenpeace had been working with them to campaign against the building of a massive hydro dam in the Tapajós River basin which would have flooded the lands from which they survive.

Learning from the Munduruku and understanding the way Greenpeace helped them to protect their traditional land was amazing. At times the fight for environmental justice can feel abstract and overwhelming, but when you hear from people like the Munduruku, the work Greenpeace does becomes something more tangible.

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