International Day of the Girl
Thatcher, Miners strikes, Wham – pre-internet, email, mobile phones. I didn’t have a clue then about what work would look like for me now.
I quickly learnt that work can change lives because it changed mine. I had an early experience of poverty and was homeless from 16 through until my early 20s. Going to university was the first time I had been outside of my postcode on my own, it changed my world overnight and even though my lifestyle aspirations stayed fairly low – 10k salary – I found the confidence to embark on a career that led me into the world of social change, where I found a sense of belonging and a quality of life I’d never experienced before.
Looking back, it makes sense to me that the company I created is now dedicated to changing the world through the day job. Our mission is to redefine the day job by making a positive social impact a fundamental part of everyone’s work regardless of role or sector.
My team are fascinated by what the future holds for work. Last week we were debating the latest report from PWC that presents a number of different future worlds in the context of 5 megatrends that will influence all of us. These megatrends are Power shifting from developed to developing countries; Rapid urbanisation; An ageing, expanding and shifting global population; Climate change; and Automation & AI.
I’m not a futurist but as a progressive I hope, and believe, we will see a new type of employer emerging by 2030: The Humanitarian Employer. What I mean by that is two things; an employer who truly embraces a role for shaping a better society and secondly, an employer who places tremendous value on the intrinsic human characteristics we bring as people, in the workplace. If I’m right, I think there could be several interesting implications for gender equality and for our girls as they enter the workplace.
And I think I am right because we’re starting to see the change happen now. Employers in all sectors are starting to take social purpose seriously, rather than not do it at all, or place it at arm’s length in CSR teams. The business case for social purpose sitting at the heart of an organisation has been made – we know consumers want it, investors want it and it’s the most powerful tactic for attracting and retaining top talent.
At Koreo we are helping employers accelerate their social purpose by engaging with the UN Global Goals and reimagine their approach to talent. Launched in September 2015 with the strapline “leave no-one behind”, the 17 Goals are the closest thing we’ve got to a world strategy and Goal 5 is all about Gender Equality. If leaders truly engage with this agenda not only will we address the pay gap, but we can change the way people are developed and products are designed. Imagine if the people designing AI tools for our homes understood and demonstrated a commitment to gender equality because it’s embedded in their learning programmes. Maybe the PA tools coming into the market wouldn’t have all female names, perhaps more young women would be entering STEM careers, perhaps industries that have been traditionally female and low paid are given a new status.
In the context of ever-increasing automation, I believe we will see a higher value being placed on people who bring to work essential human qualities. People who are compassionate and conscious of their fellow human beings, able to connect and form meaningful relationships, people who are naturally curious & creative. I’m not saying these are gendered qualities but I do relate to these attributes as a woman.
In terms of our work at Koreo now we are starting to tap into these qualities in young people now to start making the change, the Koreo Prize 2017 has seen many girls and women contribute fresh perspectives on complex social issues problems including gender equality.
When I first set up Good Women I questioned whether we really needed a network that was open, free, borderless and designed to foster connections. But now, when I ponder the future of work I am sure we will need spaces like this more than ever, spaces where our girls are naturally able to thrive.
Our Ceo & Founder Rachel Whale, shares her thoughts on International Day of the Girl.