The Power of HeForShe Advocates

In this Random Thoughts post, we examine the role HeForShe advocates can play in advancing gender equality and creating a more equitable world. My cofounder Kem Ellis and I are proud to call ourselves feminists and HeForShe advocates. We have been influenced over the past decade by our daughter Sarah and other powerful women we know as well as the work of UN Women and their HeForShe Challenge and Campaign.

This inspiring TED Talks presentation by Ms. Elizabeth Nyamayaro will help you to understand the philosophy and approach of the HeForShe Campaign that UN Women kicked off in fall 2014. It’s called “An Invitation to Men Who Want a Better World for Women.” Ms. Nyamayaro leads the HeForShe Campaign organization for UN Women, a directorate of the United Nations.

You can learn more about the HeForShe Challenge and Campaign at this link. Please encourage the men you know to sign up, take the HeForShe pledge, and take action to promote gender equality. Better yet, encourage your workplace to become HeForShe advocates and not only promote gender equality, but take measurable steps to ensure gender parity at all levels of the organization.

Now, I realize this is easier said than done. However, there are ten progressive corporations with a total of one million employees starting to “walk the talk.” You can learn about these ten enterprises and their approach to putting HeForShe into action within their organizations by downloading the 2016 HeForShe Corporate Parity Report.

There is a treasure trove of information in this report about gender equality and the opportunity for improvement within business enterprises of all sizes and types. The report also features ten corporate CEO’s who are leading the way to a more inclusive and gender equal world. The ten CEO’s and their corporations are:

  • Sebastien Bazin, Chair & CEO of AccorHotels
  • Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays
  • Mustafa V. Koc, Chair of Koc Holding
  • Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
  • Dennis Nally, Chair of PriceWaterhouseCoopers International Ltd
  • Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chair & CEO of Schneider Electric
  • Rick Goings, Chair & CEO of Tupperware Brands
  • Adam Bain, COO of Twitter
  • Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
  • Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group PLC

This report was written after the first year of HeForShe Campaign implementation, so the inclusion metrics are not current (you can find updated reports on the HeForShe website). What is important to take-away from this report is the following:

  1. The sense of urgency communicated by UN Women, the United Nations, and these ten CEOs. For example, Paul Polman’s statement is right on the mark: “On current trends it will be 2096 before women have the same economic opportunities as men. This is simply too slow. The advancement of women’s rights and their economic inclusion is a business priority.”
  2. The commitment to transparency in reporting the percentage of women represented in four key areas: overall company, top six percent of roles across the enterprise, Board members, and new hires.
  3. The strategic prioritization of investments/initiatives within their enterprises to put the HeForShe Challenge and Campaign into action.

Are these organizations and their approach to gender parity and equality perfect? No. Will they falter and experience setbacks along the way? Yes, of course. However, these ten large corporations and their CEOs are taking a stand to move the needle on gender equality over the next five years.

How about you? What is your take-away from this report and what will you and/or your enterprise do to stand up for gender equality and equal rights for women and girls in your community or geographic region? And for the men who are reading this post, we encourage you to become a HeForShe advocate and take action to make a difference for women.

Published by Mark Livingston

Mark Livingston is President of The Social Impact Foundation and creator/author of the WIIN Learning Platform. He is also a Certified Pickleball Coach and Teaching Professional at Coach Mark LLC (www.coach-mark.com).

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