Society

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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