Toward The Tipping Point: HeForShe Turns Two

Heads of state, an aspiring astrophysicist, a college fraternity brother, university presidents, business leaders, film stars, and many others came together last night to celebrate the second anniversary of HeForShe, demonstrating that this initiative needs all of us — men, women, boys and girls — to work together for gender equality. I was honored to co-host this successful celebration with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, and the President of SUNY Stony Brook, Samuel Stanley.

For those of you who have yet to join one of the 1.2 billion social media conversations around HeForShe, it’s a United Nations campaign to promote gender equality. It is grounded in the belief that our success is interconnected, and pushing for equality isn’t just the right thing to do, it will benefit society overall. So I hope you will all sign your names to this important movement. As Emma Watson encouraged us through these words used across centuries, “if not me, who, and if not now, when?”

One of the great parts of my new job is that I travel the world, connecting with our global network of firms and clients. Recent trips include Munich and Singapore, and I’m headed to Saudi Arabia later this fall. Seeing the diversity of cultures in which our network seeks to fulfill its mission — to build trust and solve the world’s important problems — underscores the many opportunities we have to move forward on gender equality at PwC and within the societies in which we operate. Indeed, Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, said last night, “I am a firm believer that without women’s empowerment there is no revival of the Japanese economy.”

I have also seen examples of the impact men can have when they work together supporting women. Men have helped amplify and recognize the critical achievements of women, and seen how better decisions are made when we have a diversity of voices in the room. Now we must build upon that.

I am personally committed to HeForShe, and I am honored to be able to pledge PwC’s continued support of this essential initiative. As part of yesterday’s celebration, we launched the development of a free, global online learning module — Building Gender IQ — to help viewers recognize and address unconscious assumptions that shape gender relations. Our efforts also include working with the UN on Empowerwomen.org, which helps engage women in meaningful economic opportunities, and a Virtual School, which works to allow women and girls to rapidly overcome low-quality or non-existent educational options.

We have also committed to taking a hard look at our own data on gender equality. We know we don’t have all the answers but looking at the data and exploring trends can help us get to solutions. Earlier this year, we launched our Global Inclusion Index, and — along with nine other Corporate Impact Champions — published our key gender data.

Last night, I was in impressive company — from Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Shinzo Abe, to film stars Emma Watson and Edgar Ramirez. UN Under-Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reminded us that “there is room for everybody” in HeForShe. Equally as inspiring were the many young speakers from around the world — students and activists committed to the very basic task of changing our world. As Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized, these are not tomorrow’s leaders; they are today’s leaders.

It’s easy to question whether change is coming fast or fully enough, but when I looked around the room last night and heard the stories, one fact was evident: the full potential of the world cannot be realized if we operate as two unequal halves. I look forward to helping reach the tipping point as the movement continues to grow.

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