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As a father of both a son and a daughter, it is unthinkable to me that my son would have more opportunities to succeed than my daughter, that he could be paid more for doing the same job, or that societal norms or stereotypes might have her believe there are things she can’t do simply because she is female.
Gender equality is both an economic opportunity and a moral imperative. We have seen great progress in businesses and boardrooms in recent years but there is much more work to be done and we all have a role to play. Businesses have a responsibility to stand up and be counted on this.
Leading change within our own organisations is, however, only half the battle. The opportunity before us is far greater than that.
Technology has given brands a powerful voice in society. This provides exciting new ways to grow our businesses, but it also comes with a responsibility to use this voice to make a difference in the world – to be a force for growth and a force for good.
Great brand campaigns today have the power to move people; to make them laugh or cry; make them angry or proud; they can inspire action or – at their very best – create a movement and change society.
In the global struggle for gender equality – we believe our brands can be a game-changer.
We are using our brands to increase awareness of--and spark conversations about--issues affecting women and girls in our society. We’re speaking up for what we believe in, challenging negative stereotypes and tackling prejudices that hold women back around the world.
We are very proud of the impact that our Always #LikeAGirl, Ariel #SharetheLoad and SKII #ChangeDestiny campaigns (and many others) have made both for our business and positive change in society.
When we combine the strength and reach of our brand voice and the dedication of our people and our partners to vital social causes, the results can be truly powerful.
Consumers today seek out brands that mean something to them; that they know represents who they are and what they believe in. Advertising like this creates an emotional bond between people and our brands. In a world where loyalty is harder and harder to maintain, this is the future.
The most successful brands of tomorrow will have a vision for a better world and the role they can play in helping us get there. Brands that step up will be rewarded; those that don’t, risk irrelevance or even extinction.
We have a responsibility to ensure our organizations are diverse and inclusive, designed to allow men and women to thrive equally, but we have an opportunity to reach beyond our own walls and be a part of change in society.
This is the kind of leadership the world expects of big brands and big business and that we should all expect of ourselves.
I can think of no better purpose for all brands and businesses than to play their part in creating a more equal society, where young men and women grow up knowing they can achieve anything they set their mind to, and make of their life what they will, irrespective of their gender.
This is a legacy we could all be proud of.
This article is part of the ‘Daring to lead’ series, highlighting voices from the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society Global Meeting, in Paris, on 5-6 October. You can see our programme and list of speakers for the event at the Women’s Forum website.