In October 2017, I had an amazing opportunity to attend One Young World, a preeminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30 which gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world. At the forum, I met other delegates from Thomson Reuters and, inspired by the event, we shared the vision to create and collaborate on a project.
Voices of Change was conceived from not just the passion to make a difference within our organisations, but to illustrate how global corporations can partner towards achieving the United Nations Global Goals. Instrumental to Accenture’s commitment to UN Global Compact, the event focused on Sustainable Development Goal Number 5 – Gender Equality.
Given the global profile of the 2 companies, we identified locations where they have a large footprint such as New York, Johannesburg, Lagos and London, and have organised the event across these locations, with Johannesburg scheduled for August 2018.
With great conviction, I say that companies have a role to play in shaping societies and driving conversations in their sphere of influence. Ultimately, corporations are made up of people, people of diverse backgrounds, with unique experiences and with a personal view of the world. We wanted to create a forward-looking session with a focus on Technology and Finance, specifically addressing:
1. Attracting and retaining female talent in Technology and Finance
2. Removing the stigma around female talent in Technology and Finance
3. How is technology improving and driving gender equality?
These topics allowed the panellists and over 300 attendees globally to discuss, share and enable an environment for honest conversations around gender equality in the workplace. In Lagos, the leaders shared their candid experiences throughout their own leadership journeys, and had the following tips for the 70 attendees in the room:
In London, Chief Privacy Officer of Thomson Reuters, Vivienne Artz highlighted that women are not a minority or token, but are 50% of the population and global workforce. She added that there is a lot of cause for celebration for the 100-year anniversaries, such as 100 years since women were allowed to join the forces, 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the UK, and next year will mark 100 years since women were allowed to work as solicitors.
The panel discussions touched on a change in approach around attracting a young workforce to their future careers, as making a career choice can be as much about the feeling of belonging as it is about the confidence to succeed. Another point that was raised was around the loneliness that women experience at the top, as male leaders are more likely to select a younger male colleague as a mentee.
As Peter Lacy, Accenture Strategy Senior Managing Director rightly said “Getting to equality in Finance and Technology is a journey, not a destination. It’s a journey of conversations”, and of course, progressive actions.