Hi, It’s Harriet here. I hope you have all staying resilient, safe and well throughout the July vortex of huge change.
The theme of my newsletter today is ‘respect’. That feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements and I have been filled by respect by so many over recent weeks, in particular.
Here are two of my favourite quotes:
“Respect comes in two unchangeable steps: giving it and receiving it.” Edmond Mbiaka
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.” Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Read on and you’ll see examples of truly inspirational individuals, from Olympians to spelling bee champions, all of whom deserve the utmost respect. I have also included some popular posts from recent weeks – that will hopefully inspire and challenge your thinking – just in case you missed them! Plus, a few unseen new ideas for your comment – the inputs I treasure from you all.
We are currently being wowed by global superstars competing in the Tokyo Olympics. I love the Olympics and often site my London 2012 experiences as some of the most thrilling of my life.
As I researched a myriad of articles about amazing training and preparation I became particularly interested in the champion’s mindset and how this sets them apart as winners. The ability to learn, act, cope with failure, being highly adaptable and deeply innovative.
This great article posed a new theory I hadn’t read about before if you want to be a champion – harness your inner child!
The notion of teachability really resonated with me. Champions are willing to learn as are children who come into this world with an innate desire to learn, to understand the world around them.
They have a sense of wonder that helps them be open to learning everything there is to know about the world around them.
They’re like sponges observing and absorbing every fact, every reaction. Because they know that their very survival depends on it.
One of the most important and oft-repeated, qualities we need to succeed in business is a willingness to learn – to be teachable.
You must be willing to admit that you don’t know everything, and have the willingness to be mentored and learn from others more experienced than you.
To become a champion, you must be willing to educate yourself or be educated, to read about, learn, and absorb all the things you need to know, even if they are completely new to you.
Secondly, the idea that champions are focused on action!
Have you noticed how children are completely geared towards action? As soon as they learn a new skill, they want to put it into action.
Champions are the same. They don’t overthink their next move. They take inspired action and put their newly learned skills to use.
One stand-out Olympian caught my eye in this wonderful Guardian article.
Kinaua Biribo, a 27 yr old female from the small Pacific island of Kiribati, is her country’s first-ever Olympic judoka.
She is aware of her role model status back home and wants to empower women in the Pacific. “There are a lot of cases of domestic violence back in Kiribati,” she says. “Most of the men beat their wives. And there is no one to stop them. We think it’s a couple’s fight, so we have to mind our business. I don’t agree with that… I see this opportunity as a chance to give hope and strength to my sisters struggling back home. This is my chance to remind them that being a woman is a blessing and not a curse.”
When Kinaua was six, she was abducted and sexually assaulted. She thought that she was going to die – until her grandfather realised that she was missing, and intervened.
As Kinaua channelled her fear into training, her regime, dedication and extraordinary talent began to define her and since 2020 she’s been in Tokyo unable to return home because of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Kinaua did not win a medal but her mission, drive and cause transcend the big win!
Another next-gen Rockstar shining bright is teenage basketball prodigy, Zaila Avant-garde who recently became the first African American to win the US Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Why is this story so alluring and powerful?
Of course, the wonderful role modelling and shout out for brilliantly talented Africa American young women is sensational but what I love is the dedication, the amazing work ethic and the seriously multi-talented of Zaila:
“For spelling, I usually try to do about 13,000 words [per day], and that usually takes about seven hours or so,” the home-schooled teen told New Orleans paper the Times-Picayune. “We don’t let it go way too overboard, of course. I’ve got school and basketball to do.”
And then I saw her juggling videos, monocycles and thought “this girl is on fire”
This story made me smile – hope it does you too.
Celebrating Extraordinary Everyday Women
The series of interviews that commenced in March for International Women’s Day keeps growing! There are now 14 videos on this YouTube playlist for you to watch and be inspired by. We’ve covered a huge range of topics from being an introvert, dealing with imposter syndrome and confidence issues to hearing some incredible achievements. Lessons to learn from them all.
A huge, huge thank you to Ruth Owen, Neha Pareek, Melanie Richards, Sinem Erdemli, Emma Cleary, Ella Slade (they/them), Shelley Quinn, Michelle Kent, Gemma Clarkson, Smita Gupta, Kirti Lad, Cheryl Cole, and Joy Dettorre for your time and taking part. There’s still more to come!
There are so many powerful stories from extraordinary everyday women, but I do feel that feminism could do better!
I love this World Economic Forum research on the 5000-year history of the gender gap.
Exploring the fourth wave of feminism begs the question – was it really the case that half of the world population were repressed for the entire history of humankind, leaving half of the total brainpower unused?
I was surprised that the research found no long-running trend in the women’s share in the top roles of our global societies. Whilst women’s share at the top fluctuates around an average of 10%, the main positive outlier is the third millennium BCE, driven by a high women’s presence among Ancient Egypt’s observations in the Human Biographical Record and echoes Egyptian women’s equal rights to men.
This research puts women’s contemporary struggle for equality into an important historical perspective. Women’s emancipation is not a contemporary concept and any period of improvement has yet to prove sustainable!
I loved this quote from the must-read report as it closes out with some hope for our self-made entrepreneurial women…
“Our body is nothing but the clothes of our soul
the only difference between he and she,
as for the soul concerned, it is just as good,
yes, just as great, in many woman’s body.”
Respect for New Choices
Many are making new career and life choices as we emerge from living through a pandemic; a study by Microsoft found that 41% of the global workforce would consider leaving their current employer within the next year.
I love this Fast Company article which explores the fact that “people are getting ready to jump ship”
“This is propelled by three forces – the changing generation, the economic crisis, and the realisation people have had that they can have a different social contract, spending more time with family when they work remote and skip the commute.”
I found this very interesting and it makes me wonder whether people are truly unhappy or has the pandemic created a burning desire for change?
For me, I think it’s a period of redemptive awakening for good and bad…
As we come through this extraordinary vortex of change – climate, health, inclusion and tech transformations, many have been awakened to the opportunity to get off the treadmill and live a life they actually want more than the one they had.
For others who were underrepresented or disadvantaged before this vortex, the awakening is more dramatic and urgent.
Change must happen for us and new skills the world needs are essential to fill the jobs others are leaving and to break out into new areas.
I was deeply saddened in July to see fresh stories of racist abuse. It is always so devastating to see such a lack of respect via words, images and stories in the press and on social media, and the response from some in leadership roles brutally disrespectful and undermining.
I have seen first-hand how this is adversely impacting so many people, both personally and professionally.
Daily I reflect on my pledge as a lifelong advocate and campaigner for inclusion and diversity, and the individuals, family and resources I turn to keep learning, re-learning and being the change I want to see in the world by my daily decision and actions.
Firstly, family – we are a richly diverse and blended family. Because of all of our ages, sex’s colour’s creeds, sexualities, physical and cognitive abilities, I love us and try and demonstrate this daily. The Greens and the Clarkson’s, the Gilbert’s and the Quartey’s, the Mollison’s and The Allen’s, The Beesley’s and the Roberts’, the Samads, Collins’ and the Peter’s – all of us so v different and special.
Secondly learning and really understanding what I can do to help means talking, reading and immersing myself in the real world of today.
I wanted to share with you two of my book reviews that had such an impact on my own understanding of institutional racism, and unconscious bias.
As Pamela says, “Words matter. And what’s appropriate and inclusive evolves and changes over time. It’s essential to listen, watch, learn, engage and reengage.”
This positive everyday advice when actioned strongly is what’s needed from all of us to combat this wave of cruelty and prejudice – it’s on ALL of us.
And, as leaders restating our personal diversity and inclusion pledges, and engaging our teams in purposeful high impact collaboration to institutionalise meritocracy for all people like us is the quest right now.
Respect in person, and online, is critical
That’s why I’m delighted that Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter have made commitments to tackle the abuse of women on their platforms.
At the recent UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris, the 4 big tech companies announced a bold package of commitments to tackle online abuse and improve women’s safety on their platforms. The areas to be addressed include womens’ need for greater control over who can comment or reply to their posts, more choice over what they see online, when they see it and how they see it, and improved reporting systems so they can be better supported when they do receive violent or abusive content.
This is an important article that is v much worth a read.
Equity & Equality & Justice – Respect for Purpose Led Change
With my Mission Beyond work and our amazing Open Doors platform that will connect young people with potential, from more disadvantaged backgrounds with partners, corporations & jobs, I am struck by the stark differences of our actions around equality, equity and removing the barriers to social justice.
This brilliant graphic perfectly describes perfectly that whilst “levelling up” opportunities is good, steadfast work to remove the often institutionalised barriers is essential for us all
Also this article by Ellen Gutoskey, “What’s the Difference Between Equity and Equality“, is worth a read.
There are some key questions arising:
1) How is your organisation embracing you in defining the purpose, brand and commitment of your collective mission and purpose?
2) How are you as a leader driving engagement by involving your teams in collaborative and community-focused pursuits?
3) Do you know what your units – ESG or EDI targets are? Do you celebrate your collective successes regularly and loudly?!
And, from the new social mobility commission annual report (https://buff.ly/3rseD1x), stating whist I think we all knew, that those disadvantaged before Covid are even more so now…
In the last 16 months, we have all lived through a once-in-a-generation crisis. The pandemic will have a profound impact on the UK over the next decades. There is a huge risk that the gulf between the rich and the poor will continue to grow ever deeper and wider.
Nearly one in three children in the UK now live in poverty, around 4.3 million. There could not be a more pressing time for the UK Government to make an action plan. Disadvantaged pupils in England are now as much as seven months behind their more privileged peers at school, including the gaps that grew in the last year. Young people have been more susceptible to job losses, with an 8.7% drop for working-class men aged 16-24.
Respect for Tech Pioneers: Saving Our Planet and Building Self Esteem
I totally love this Innovation Cycles graphic which underscores the “Technology Pioneers’ list from the World Economic Forum bringing together early to growth-stage companies from around the world who are pioneering new technologies and innovations, ranging from cell-based seafood protein to quantum-based cybersecurity, digitization of water rights and the use of satellite imaging to measure carbon captured in forests.
Please take a look at these incredible initiatives, I have picked out two of them to showcase:
Banyan Nation, India: Banyan is solving the problem of plastic pollution through dual innovations, leveraging mobile technology to integrate thousands of informal recyclers into a fair and equitable supply chain. Its unique washing technology eliminates contaminants from discarded plastics and helps produce virgin-like recycled plastic. In 5 years, it aims to recycle over 50,000 tonnes annually.
FlexFinTx, Africa: Zimbabwe start-up empowering the 400 million Africans who lack proper forms of identification to build self-sovereign digital identities so that they can prove who they are at any time – enabling access to financial, insurance, healthcare and government services.
All We Need is Love ….Beatles, Naomi & Leo Style Kindness
In 1978, drawing on a jarring real-life experience, Naomi Shihab Nye captured this difficult, beautiful, redemptive transmutation of fear into kindness in a poem of uncommon soulfulness and empathic wingspan that has since become a classic.
I love this extract from the poem which you can read in full, here.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
you must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
So rich and moving, because nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness,” Leo Tolstoy — a man of colossal compassion and colossal blind spots — wrote while reckoning with his life as it neared its end.
“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now,” Jack Kerouac half-resolved, half-instructed an epoch later in a beautiful letter to his first wife and lifelong friend.
I close today with my respect for all of you who enrich my life with your inputs and support particularly your comments and insights on my monthly newsletter. Please do keep sharing your feedback. 🙏
Coming up this month, I am hosting a LinkedIn Live panel discussion with Danny Attias, Mirek Hazer and Angela Murze. We will be talking about purpose in business, how we each make a difference, and how we make diversity and inclusion really stick.
I hope you can join us at 1pm (UK) on 24th August. To watch live, you simply need to visit my LinkedIn profile; a recording will also be available.
Also this month I will also be sharing my review on our current book club choice, Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
On 8th September I’ll be hosting a LinkedIn Live panel discussion with Paul Gatland, Cheryl Cole and Cain Ullah when we’ll all be sharing our thoughts on this great writing. And, not only has this wonderful book been included in Barack Obama’s summer reading list, but it has also been nominated for the 2021 Book Prize longlist (winner to be announced on November 3rd)!
If you’re reading along, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions for the panel. Plus any recommendations for future book club choices – please do message me.
Thank you so much for reading. Harriet