Equality isn’t a problem. It’s the solution.

The 8th March – International Women’s Day – is an important reoccurring fixture on our calendar. The pursuit of gender equality is important to each of us at intO. It’s a mission that’s reflected by our collective vision, the way the organisation is shaped, and how we operate. When our leader, Joanna, founded intO, she had a very clear ambition to structure a worldwide business in a way that would empower both women and men to develop their expertise while providing the flexibility and freedom to care for their families. As Joanna says in this article, which provides more information about how a quest for equality fuels our organisation, ‘Equality isn’t just a problem to fix. It’s the solution.’

The IWD campaign theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual and is founded on a notion of ‘collective individualism’. It should remind us of the fact that whilst we are all part of a whole, our individual mindsets and behaviours impact society at large. We’re all responsible for our own actions and how they influence others around us, and we can all choose to challenge stereotypes and biases, and broaden our perceptions from learning about the experiences and achievements of others. A similar principle guides the design research work we do at intO: local, cultural attitudes, behaviours and trends influence worldwide patterns of behaviour and vice versa. So, on a daily basis, the team at intO witnesses the notion behind #EachforEqual working in practise. Collectively and in unison with our clients, peers and partners, we all add up to a sum that’s greater than its parts. And this enables us, together, to influence change around the world.

International Women’s Day, this year, is encouraging us to share a picture of ourselves striking the #EachforEqual pose to raise awareness of the campaign. As in past years, it invites us to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And, importantly, it asks us to make a pledge of action that will strive to accelerate women’s equality. This is a crucial part of the movement because it reminds us that the quest for parity is not something that we should only think about on March 8th. Gender equality is the solution we should be striving for each day – and we all have a part to play. So, in the spirit of #IWD2020, here’s a round-up of just some of our team’s celebrations and pledges for the year ahead. intO is proud to be #EachforEqual.

Rafa Raso, intO Operations

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of my colleagues at intO. Joanna, and the global team of women and men work courageously and collaboratively with each other, and their clients. Last year, the team doubled in size, a new office was opened in Cali, Colombia, and the business had its busiest year on record. So, intO is proof that a business can be structured in a way that enables women and men to forge ahead with their careers with the flexibility, autonomy and support they require to care for their children and families.

This year, I am pledging to be more courageous when it comes to calling out gender stereotypes or bias. #EachforEqual

 

Alejandra Arango Gutierrez, intO Regional Lead (America, Latin & North) 

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of all those who are working to support diverse gender identities. There are many ways to be a woman. I want to celebrate the progress that’s being made across Latin America, but remind everyone that there is more work to be done. We need to educate individuals and organisations about the difference between biological sex and gender identity.

This year, I am pledging to listen more openly to people of all genders, and to use inclusive language that does not take a person’s gender status for granted. I will advocate and support social equity for those who are marginalised, and I will actively work towards educating marginalising views and ending intolerance. #EachforEqual

 

Chloe Amos Edkins, intO Research Director

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of feminist, activist, author and journalist, Caroline Criado Perez, who is persistently and doggedly calling out gender bias despite relentless abuse and trolling. Released last year, her book, ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’, leads you on a journey and clearly spells out multiple examples of discrimination against women. Her writing really illustrates how endemic this is across all areas of life. It makes you realise that while equality has come a long way, we still have a distance to go before we achieve parity.

This year, I am pledging to celebrate the achievements of women more vocally. #EachforEqual

 

Jesse Adeniji, intO Regional Lead (Africa)

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of the women in my family. I have always been among strong women. My mum gave birth to six children, of which three are women. My mother and my sisters have helped me to grow, lending me friendship, their listening ears – and delivering reprimands when needed! Mum was my first philosopher and her quotable wisdom and family-budget management provided me with a foundation for personal growth and independence. Without these women in my formative years, and my superwoman partner, I doubt I’d be strong enough to withstand the challenges of life.

I also want to celebrate Katherine Johnson, who I’ve been learning about recently. Johnson was the NASA mathematician, scientist and physicist whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first – and subsequent – NASA crewed spaceflights. That was no mean feat in the era, when the intelligence of Black people was questioned by the Jim Crow laws and opportunities were acutely lacking for Black women.

This year, I am pledging to boycott products that advertise using stereotypes of women. The marketing and media industries play a big role in influencing how we all perceive the world, and they need to work harder to support the equality agenda. #EachforEqual

 

Maria Camila Valderrama Munoz, intO Research Assistant

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of Diana Sierra, the owner and creator of BE Girl https://www.begirl.org/our-story. Sierra is a Colombian Industrial designer who is empowering young women with design and helping to ensure that being a girl doesn’t stand in the way of opportunities, health and success. BE Girl is dedicated to meeting the needs of more than 250 million adolescent girls lacking access to appropriate, high-performance menstrual products. This solution is necessary to promote autonomy and empowerment while preserving the environment. The Be Girl mission was initially inspired by Sierra’s work in Uganda, but she has committed to help and bring these unique products to girls in Colombia, too.

This year, I am pledging to keep working to change the worldview and drive more inclusion and equality. I’ll keep myself well informed and educated about the movement so that I can, in turn, inform others.

 

Onika Simon, intO Strategy Director

This year, I’m celebrating a historical milestone for social innovation network, Ashoka. Each year they welcome several entrepreneurs into their fellowship for societal progress – and for the first time in 40 years, not half but ALL of this year’s fellows will be female. The projects and businesses of Ashoka’s 2020 fellows have one remarkable thing in common: they shift the balance of power towards equality by systematising empathy. This is “soft power” in action – and an important trend to watch as we consider the future of power and how it affects all of us.

So, this year, I am pledging to continue my work with Ashoka, as a curator of art-driven experiences and critical discourse on the future of power. Their motto is “Everyone’s a change-maker”- and our challenge is to make this motto real in the most impactful way possible.

 

Clare Rees, intO Marketing Lead

This year, I’m celebrating the achievements of the women that drive the London Women in Innovation (WIN) movement, which I’ve just recently joined. Set up in 2018, the WIN mission seeks to address the gender gap in innovation in the UK by promoting equality and diversity and eliminating discrimination on the grounds of sex. Monthly events are designed to equip women with leadership skills to promote equality in the workplace, enable discussion on how to prevent discrimination in the workplace and co-create a women-led perspective on the broader sustainability issues that are impacting our society as a whole. I attended my first WIN event, last month, and I was struck by the generosity of knowledge and support shared. Thank you to all WIN attendees and to the WIN leadership team, Chloe Williams, Meredith Smith, Justine Lai, Sesh Vedachalam, Meera Pathak and Malina Keutel!

This year, I am pledging to be more vocal. As marketing lead at intO, I’ll be attending many events relevant to the design and innovation industry. In the digital technology sector, in particular, it’s estimated that women take up only 17% of the digital workforce, so I shall be noticing and questioning all-male speaker panels and opening discussions about gender diversity at networking events.

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Finally, all of us at intO want to take the opportunity, as a collective, to celebrate the amazing achievements of our colleague, Nahid A Siddiqui. Nahid is Chief Executive at inSight and our Bangladeshi Local Expert here at intO. Nahid’s mobile banking mission is enabling female entrepreneurs in her region to take personal economic autonomy. As Nahid says, ‘Let’s stand against, and fight together, to remove inequality from our world.’

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