Celebrating International Women's Day
Reflecting on what equity means and gaining inspiration for practical steps on what we can do
This year’s focus is Embracing Equity – but what is Equity? To me, it’s a hard-won promise. Equity is not handed to you on your day of birth, it’s a promise you must fight for, day after day. And one we must make to ourselves with everyone else in mind.
We’ve seen meaningful progress over the years but the finish line is still far out of sight. Progress is not only too slow, it’s at risk of reversal. The June 2022 decision by the US Supreme Court is a stark reminder we can’t take anything for granted. Gender rights are under threat everywhere, so not only must we take action and call for more equity, we must also actively protect and nurture it where it exists.
Our Regenerative Mindset at SustainCERT
At SustainCERT, we foster what we call a ‘Regenerative mindset’. It means we consider business as a force for good. We embrace regenerative strategies to ensure our company, our people and our planet can flourish. We care about the well-being of our colleagues, act with fairness and kindness towards each other, and consider listening, reflecting and acting not as a one off but a continuous mindset.
We have the privilege of working with amazing people from very diverse backgrounds; there is nothing less than 35 nationalities and counting in our fast growing organization! Just over 50% of our total workforce is female, and so is half of our management team.
In 2023 we will continue introducing supportive structures so that, as we keep on building the business, we can create an even more equitable and psychologically safe working environment.
- Earlier this year we provided everyone direct, free, anonymous and unlimited access to certified psychologists to help with personal or professional challenges and development.
- As we scale up recruitment, and to ensure each candidate is objectively assessed – and to avoid the pitfalls of personal biases – we have introduced an industry leading tool to support us.
We know we need to do more, we are ‘Pragmatic-activists’ after all. This means we aim high but know that progress is a journey. It’s why, for example, we are continuously looking for ways to be a more progressive and greater employer to work for, and business to work with. More on this soon!
Inspiration from other leaders
What always strikes me when discussing equity is that we all feel differently about it. That’s why I asked several women that have inspired me during my journey what ‘embracing equity’ means to them? What would they change to accelerate gender equity and to share particular examples of what has inspired them? As ever, I was reassured and inspired that with their drive, the right change can happen.
Priyadarshini Karve is a physicist who is building a global human community that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
“Changing the way teachers and administrators behave towards students on academic campuses. If academic campuses genuinely practice gender equity, the culture will spread to all spheres of the society more effectively.”Priyadarshini Karve, Managing Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
The principle of equity (in gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.) must be embedded in all decisions – personal or professional. In the context of gender equity – a person’s gender should not be a consideration whether you are making friends or whether you are interviewing potential employees. Action is more important than assertions.
I am fortunate to have been born in a family of social reformers in India. With a great grandfather who founded a university for women, my father’s uncle and aunt being pioneers of sex education and family planning, and my own aunt being a well-known feminist writer… I basically did not face any gender bias from within the family and could therefore deal effectively with whatever biases I faced outside the family sphere.
If I could change one thing? I would focus on changing the way teachers and administrators behave towards students on academic campuses (from kindergarten to university). If academic campuses genuinely practice gender equity, the culture will spread to all spheres of the society more effectively.
Anastasia Volkova, a Planet-protector, explorer, change maker, female leader, and the CEO & co-founder of Regrow Ag.
“Offer everyone an experience in the skin of another person for a day.”Anastasia Volkova, CEO & Co-founder, Regrow
Embracing equity, as an employer of a large diverse internal group of professionals, including many women, means creating an environment where the needs and backgrounds of all stakeholders are considered, where the gaps in their backgrounds are bridged, the opportunities are made available and the individuals are supported on their journey, however different it may be.
When I speak with female leaders, every one of us has a story of a champion, traditionally male that supported us early in our career, acted as an ally and helped us grow. I am grateful to all those men who have enabled us to get here and know that the path and opportunities offered to future generations are in our hands now.
If I could change one thing? Offer everyone an experience in the skin of another person for a day.
Eleonora Gatti, Climate Innovation Lead, Office of Innovation, United Nation Children’s Fund.
“Accelerating gender equity means accelerating fair access to high-quality mentorship, inspiration, and financial opportunities to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within us all.”Eleonora Gatti, Climate Innovation Lead, Office of Innovation, United Nation Children’s Fund
Gender equity is not just fair play. Gender equity is a joyous and continual respect for any person’s individuality.
I am deeply inspired by the courage and commitment of thousands of rural women who fought very hard, at times risking their lives, to create the first National Network of Rural Myanmar Women (May Doe Kabar), who stood up with creativity to close the digital divide at a time where a mobile sim card costed more than one year worth of their income and less than 0.1% of local leaders was female.
I had the honour to mentor this wonderful group of 22,000 rural Myanmar women to come together, be inspired and supported to believe they were worthy of owning a mobile phone, they were worthy of becoming village and township leaders. They became the first group of women in Myanmar to design and develop their own mobile app and to strike a deal with an international phone provider to enable daily access to inspiration, education, and comradeship. Their resilience and determination to overcome obstacles is a testament to the power of women’s leadership in advancing positive change. Unfortunately, with recent events in Myanmar, the National Network of Rural Myanmar Women has been disbanded.
If I could change one thing? The current climate crisis has elevated the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship like never before. Different genders should be respected not as equal but as talent. To value a person talent and effort does not have a gender. Accelerating gender equity means accelerating fair access to high-quality mentorship, inspiration, and financial opportunities to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within us all.
Jeannette Gurung, Innovator of W+ Standard.
“Provide free childcare services to women – who are almost always the ones responsible for their care – to free up their time and energy for other activities, to enable them to pursue careers, improve skills, become community leaders etc. as per their own desires.”Jeannette Gurung, Innovator of W+ Standard
Embracing Equity is built on the concept that providing people who are marginalized or disadvantaged economically, socially, culturally and politically with equal opportunities does not necessarily bring about an advancement in their status and condition, given that these groups often need extra support to enable them to access benefits available for the promotion of equality.
For this reason, it is important to create enabling environments or conditions that allow marginalized groups to take advantage of policies, funding, and other kinds of support.
If I could change one thing? Provide free childcare services to women – who are almost always the ones responsible for their care – to free up their time and energy for other activities, to enable them to pursue careers, improve skills, become community leaders, etc. as per their own desires. This is a good example of creating enabling conditions for gender equality, that has proven to have transformational impacts.
Leadership is another thing that accelerates gender equity and equality. I am inspired by a woman in Nepal who attended WOCAN’s ‘Reframing Leadership for Gender Equality’ training years ago, who being a low caste woman was transformed by the realization that leadership is not defined by a formal position. With that ‘a-ha’ moment, she went on to lead her community and others through earthquakes and other calamities, demanding resources from the government and gaining their respect in the process.
I am a woman who has always been pushing into male-dominated spaces and find that a personal understanding of marginalization evokes empathy for those in similar conditions, at all levels.