Contemplating Responsible Leadership: considering our call to action

Chi Nguyen, Parker P. Consulting’s Managing Director, recently went on a great adventure to Munich to take part in the 5th Global Responsible Leaders Forum, hosted by the BMW Foundation in mid-May. Here are a few of her reflections from this visit.

Photo: Joerg Koch/BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt

With more than 500 delegates convening in Munich, this 5th edition of the BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Forum focused on 100 Innovations for Change. The Foundation’s Chair, Dr. Michael Schaefer’s powerful opening speech articulated a clear, thoughtful understanding of responsible leadership. A transcript is available here: He spoke about five key components to Responsible Leadership: Awareness, Vision, Imagination, Responsibility and Action. For a network as diverse and varied as the Foundation’s community of +2,000 responsible leaders, it set out a clear call to living and working thoughtfully and ethically.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of this network since 2011, where I’ve met people from all parts of the globe with purposeful pursuits. Leaders exemplify a commitment to innovation and changing their communities for good.The leaders in this network exemplify a commitment to trying to find ways to innovate and change their communities for good. I returned from Munich inspired by Sayu Bhojwani’s efforts to create a new image of political leadership by helping immigrants in America step up to elected office. I was wowed by Joel Bashevkin’s call to volunteerism by creating a global platform for people to bring their talents to changemaking organizations everywhere. And, Amel Karboul’s work to help rebuild Tunisia’s institutions, including creating employment and economic opportunities through the Maghreb Economic Forum spoke to the complexity of building infrastructure and new systems in evolving contexts. It’s humbling to be part of such an incredibly diverse global community of change.

It’s been a few weeks since I heard this speech, and it has stayed with me as I think about how it applies to our work at Parker P. Consulting and White Ribbon. We’re new at the game of social enterprise, but we are very lucky to be steeped in an incredible powerful foundation of twenty-five years in the charitable space working to end gender violence. I myself can’t imagine a more important calling — a way to live and lead responsibly.

We are setting out in this first year to build on White Ribbon’s work, but we have a clear vision in our hearts and minds. For me, this social enterprise consulting arm is letting us apply the best of what we do by really challenging organizations that have a history being very male-dominated to unpack and understand their own environments. When our work began nearly 25 years ago, it was because we knew that it would be impossible to achieve a world without gender violence if men and boys weren’t a part of this solution. We know that this is as important as ever, and now through Parker P., we want to help organizations understand their role in preventing this violence. I hope that we can inspire companies across all industries to ask how they can dismantle gender inequality, whether it is within business, resource extraction, technology, sports or politics.

Over the years, White Ribbon’s work has touched more than 65 countries — taking into account a country’s particular political, cultural and historical context has allowed for our work to reach places as diverse as Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Brazil. We’ve been able to extend our work into many places around the globe because fundamentally, we believe that local communities have the best knowledge of how to create change and focus on solutions.

Even as news headlines remind us constantly about the epidemic of gender violence, we stay focused on the world we want to create — one where my child grows up understanding that there are toxic ideas of gender: that he doesn’t have to follow them — and that he can intervene and stand up for the women in his life. I keep that idea in my heart and imagination, as we try to challenge some of the deeply embedded ideas about why this violence is perceived as so normal and expected.

I’m lucky that I have an opportunity everyday to contribute to living and leading responsibly. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to do so, but we can all find ways to demonstrate these concepts. If you are part of an organization or a community who wants to help us with our vision of a world with no gender violence, we want to work with you.

Munich, I loved the beer, the sausage and the obatzda. But, mostly, thanks for calling on all of us to find ways to be responsible leaders.

Find out more about the projects mentioned above —

BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Network:

New American Leaders project:

Global Pro Bono Network:

Maghreb Economic Forum: