Founders like Singapore’s Susan Chong who, as her youngest of four children reached four years old, founded Greenpac to meet surging global demand for packaging with a sustainable, and profitable, alternative. Despite the well-known challenges that come with juggling family and work and the extraordinary levels so many female leaders go through to prove themselves in industries historically dominated by men, Chong built her business on the belief that sustainability was not only the right thing to do but the smart business move as well. Now, years later, her example is one of many, making the competitive advantage of early intuition and action in the right direction clear to the entrepreneurial and investment community.
With little preparation, age-old businesses have become digital powerhouses in response to a global pandemic. Now, we must address equity with the same level of urgency and many of the tools that made 2020 possible in the first place. Even as technology enables unprecedented global collaboration, pressures of remote life have pushed a myriad of women to a breaking point, pausing their careers so they might carry the “glass balls” of family life that they alone are expected to safeguard. It’s time, now, to advance equity in our thinking and planning for the overwhelming work we’ll need to serve the post-pandemic world we’re building together because, as Malala Yousafzai reminds us, “we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
'You'll Never Walk Alone’
When I see the powerful connections and capital shared in networks like YPO, I’m blown away by the immediate impact so many are ready and willing to make, to share knowledge and resources, especially if it means empowering women. Their promise, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” has been a tremendous source of strength and inspiration for myself and so many others, because we all deserve to have this strength and support.
Noella Coursaris Musunka understands the profound power of community. Where many would have left poverty and peril in the past, she returned to witness the obstacles to education for girls in her native Democratic Republic of Congo, and chose to leverage the platform she built through her successful modeling career to elevate and serve communities of girls just like her with her Malaika Foundation.
While we may not all aspire to be runway models like Coursaris Musunka, we can all be role models. We can use our stumbling blocks as stepping stones, offer up raw, unrefined opportunities instead of polishing our points, and invite brilliant, collaborative minds in our community to unleash unexpected, extraordinary solutions. We can all find ways to support progress as partners of change, as progress towards equity is a win for all. Let’s not wait for the next invitation to help, or say we’re here when needed; instead, let’s go out and extend those invitations and opportunities everywhere we can, today.