As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we must reflect upon the challenges many women and girls face around the globe

International Women’s March

Whether a Rohingya refugee or a famous actress in Hollywood, being a woman requires an extra level of resistance and hope. The last few years have opened many eyes on the situation of women around the world, especially concerning sexual harassment and the fragility of the gender equality speech when it comes to true representation and parity on the work field.

Yet, we have much more to accomplish. Here are a few numbers from UN Women to consider: 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime; 830 women die every day from preventable pregnancy-related causes; and only 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women. It will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap if present trends continue with no action.

What can we do as a society to accelerate equality in our world? Awareness campaigns surely help, as #MeToo and many other hashtags spread the message that we are equal in our experiences and concerns. We’ve learned that feminism is not the opposite of sexism, it’s solely the true hope to be equal in a broad, respectful way. Marches around the world passed the message that we, as women, own our bodies, our choices, our sexuality. That we must be heard and respected. But is it enough?

The new International Women’s Day theme this year is «Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Womens’ Lives». It celebrates strong, fearless activists whose work is key to all the transformations we’re witnessing as a society. More important than being a voice, they are role models for our girls and boys, the next generations that will hopefully put their message into practice. Activism is key, and female activism is the remedy to invisibility.

Despite a long history of prejudice and ignorance, these women are getting their voices increasingly heard. From Malala Yousafzai, who’s shown that education matters for girls, to Amal Clooney, who was brave enough to be the first lawyer to sue ISIS for its crimes, to Noriko Mitsui, Horyou ambassador to Japan, whose work for social good has been recognized by members of the US Congress and its Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force which ranked her among the Top 20 Women of Global Excellence. To mothers, waitresses, teachers, housewives, who fight against poverty, prejudice and domestic violence.

Many of them might not be able to march. I’m marching for them, though. I want to resonate their voices. Because #Timesup to be silent.

Written by Vívian Soares

Horyou supports the SDG5, which aims to empower women and girls for gender equality. You can be part of it too either by supporting one of Horyou organizations which work for this SDG or by participating in the Horyou Light Challenge, that aims to raise awareness of gender equality. Be the change, be Horyou!

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

Emma Watson
Actress Emma Watson making a speech about her “He For She” campaign with UN Women

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? This is one of the opening lines in “Lean In,” the debut book from well known gender equality advocate Sheryl Sandberg.

Ms Sandberg has gained a lot of traction over the last few years as a champion for helping women to “lean in” in the workplace. Awareness and advocacy for gender equality has always been a women’s movement, but Sheryl and many feminists like her (including men) are changing the dynamic.

In business, a goal without a plan is just a wish. In the campaign for gender neutrality, real goals are being identified at national and international levels and importantly, real plans are being formulated and put into action.

At international level, women and girls are now high on the agenda, as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world.

At national level, many companies have introduced quotas of the number of women they want to have in senior positions. This is positive and proactive, however a point was made this year on a gender equality panel at the World Economic Forum.

PM Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, discussing gender parity

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the first ever gender balanced cabinet said that his reasoning in appointing both men and women wasn’t anything to do with “what is right” or “what society will be responsive to.” He said that he would get better decision making and better governance from a group that reflects the diversity in the population he is serving.

This is a turning point. It not only shows action at government level which will most likely trickle down to corporate and civil society but it also realizes that the divide shouldn’t be men and women, appointments should be made on merit, regardless of gender or role.

Prime Minister Trudeau went further in saying that legislation is the easy option. “We need a cultural revolution towards gender parity,” making the point that mind sets can be harder to shift.

Sheryl Sandberg echoed this sentiment and said that this cultural revolution begins at home, with children being treated equally when it comes to chores and pocket money and even with the parents themselves, taking an equal share of responsibilities.

The panel discussing a cultural revolution towards diversity in the workplace

The discussion of gender quality on the world stage is important, however UN Women and passionate gender equality advocate Emma Watson are putting words into action with an international campaign #HeForShe.

He For She is about uniting men and women in the fight against inequality. This campaign is unique in that it brings men into the conversation and encourages them to be part of the solution.There has already been 2.5 million tweets connected to the #HeForShe thread. This is expected to increase as He For She 10 x 10 x 10 rolls out across the world,an initiative in which leaders can adopt a framework and commit to gender equality in their workplace.

It seems that gender equality is now finally part of the conversation, from the world stage down to the kitchen table. No country in the world has ever achieved parity between men and women but as the philosopher Ed Burke once said “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph, is for good men and women to do nothing.”

In the interests of diversity and achieving the greatest good for society, Horyou stands in solidarity with this campaign and every person on the road to achieving equality for men and women.

By Dearbhla Gavin


It is a universally established fact that misbehavior in finance and bad judgment in monetary policy were two major catalysts of the world recession that has touched almost every economy over the last few years. Financial institutions are the driving force of an economy; they allow businesses to produce and consumers to spend and so their actions have a very real impact on our lives.

There were times when austerity measures would reinstate reason and measure in that seemingly wild arena but now, technological revolution with the hyper connectivity and infinite openings that it offers, is providing the world of finance with a chance to make a real social impact; and this time, for good.

This is happening right now in Ireland and specifically at Bank of Ireland, in Grand Canal Square, in Belfast, whose Head of Innovation, David Tighe, I met at MoneyConf.

We had an energetic chat on how banking has a real chance to turn its reputation around and start being a facilitator rather than a drain on the economy. He told me how Bank of Ireland has finally acknowledged the impact of start-ups on Ireland’s economic growth, as they are now a core element of their strategy.


To that effect, Bank of Ireland has set up a workbench in its Grand Canal Square branch with plans to expand to the major cities across the country. Put simply, it is a space where start-ups can come any day to work and build their business in an innovative and vibrant environment with free WIFI, free coffee and snacks, a network of like-minded people, and staff to answer all financial questions.

BOI Innovation Hub is completely aligned with Horyou when it comes to the interdisciplinary model as both believe in the power of cross collaboration and sharing of ideas. Diversity should be celebrated and the best results come from convergence of different experiences, thoughts and skills.

I challenged David on the fact that a bank is still a profit seeking institution; so what’s in it really for them? He said that as an enterprise bank, ‘start-ups are our product’. He believes that with the right advice and support, start-ups can grow, create real value and become driving force of growth in the economy.


I was also happy to hear that along with supporting potentially high return companies, sustainability is key consideration; entrepreneurs are realizing the competitive advantage of long-term servicing. And this is not just about environmental impact; sustainable business is built with a long-term focus in mind, be it environmental or economic.

This is why Bank of Ireland, and hopefully many more institutions, will continue to support start-ups; the end goal of solely financial gain is changing to that of financial gain plus social good. They have society in mind, and we hope that from now on, other banks will too.

By Dearbhla Gavin

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