To coincide with International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021, and the UN’s Generation Equality campaign, we convened a #RebuildBetter Virtual Summit from 9th to 11th March in partnership with UN Women and CARE International UK. We took as our starting point, the IWD theme of #ChooseToChallenge: with a focus on how we, as a community focused on harnessing business for social impact, can challenge ourselves to step up and ensure gender equity is at the core of an equitable and resilient future.
Through the event sessions, we also explored the importance of women’s leadership. New research, published in the Harvard Business Review, finds that women are rated better leaders than men by those who work for them, and that this gap has been even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic. This reflects the fact that women score more highly on those leadership traits valued most in a crisis: the ability to inspire, motivate, communicate, collaborate and build relationships. Getting through the pandemic and addressing other crises - notably climate change - will require us all to deepen these core leadership skills, regardless of gender.
But we must also urgently address the deep seated inequalities and barriers that face women in business, whether that is progression through to the leadership levels of large businesses or the ability of women-owned small and medium enterprises to survive and thrive. What are the barriers that women face, what practical actions can we take, and what role can men play as allies in the fight against gender bias and inequality?
Participants joined us across three days of live events, together with community-generated video, audio and written content, to explore these issues through three lenses: enterprise, agriculture and tackling gender-based violence.
Participants came away with fresh insights, new peer relationships and the opportunity to engage in collaborative action.