International Women’s Day 2017

Who would be a policymaker?

Today, they face an array of challenges ranging from the megatrends of urbanisation, climate change and disruptive digital transformation, through to more recent phenomenon such as “post-truth” and geopolitical issues such as Brexit. No wonder that public impact – what governments achieve for their citizens – remains such a challenging task for governments worldwide.

Addressing this diverse set of challenges demands the best and brightest at decision-making tables. It demands a diversity of experiences, insights and approaches that can only occur when governments become truly representative of the societies they represent and serve.

But while diverse teams lead to better decisions and results, there remains much work to be done.  The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. That’s why this International Women’s Day we are calling on our colleagues and community to Be Bold For Change and commit to playing your part to help create a more gender inclusive world.



Beth Blauer, executive director, Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence

“Creating a diverse workforce must be intentional. In the absence of deliberacy, we fall short of our potential and become blind to our promise. We must invest in the success of women if we want to realise a future worthy of our newest generation.”

Jules Chappell, UK’s youngest-ever ambassador

“In a world of rapid, technology-driven change, where we need to be better at adapting than ever before, diversity is our secret weapon. It helps us to appreciate not only complexity but also the full range of possibilities and opportunities before us.”

Julia Fetherston, project leader and behavioural economics lead, The Boston Consulting Group

“Creating gender-balanced organisations with effective models for engagement and opportunity can be an HR end itself.  But truly great leaders understand (and research shows) that building diverse teams is a required foundation for building successful organisations that develop resilient, creative, and effective solutions – and are joyful places to work.”

Maryantonett Flumian, president, Institute on Governance

“In many ways, Canada was founded on the idea of diversity. As an immigrant to Canada and a woman who began working in the Public Service of Canada at a time when our public institutions were far less diverse than they are today –  it’s heartening to see that we’re learning to draw on the multiplicity of talents, perspectives and histories that make up our society. Diversity is Canada’s strength and this year of our 150th birthday is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come and what still remains to be done.”

Ann Hellenius, chief information officer, City of Stockholm

“Diversity matters. To make innovation and digital transformation happen we need a mix of skills and competence. It requires a culture with more diversity and for this we need more role models. We need more female role models in a traditionally male industry, we need to refresh the image of what the work of digital development is all about and we need to start early to create interest.”

Dr. Vanessa Kerry, founder and chief executive of Seed Global Health

“Women are a powerful force for change, especially in the health workforce. Whether teaching in the classroom or caring at the bedside, each doctor, nurse, and midwife brings her own professional and life experience to her care. When these diverse perspectives converge within a unit or clinic, patients can thrive.”

Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston

“Diversity is not about who is in the room when decisions are made, it is about who shapes, impacts and makes those decisions.  Women in leadership means adding our different experiences and understanding of the world, coupled with our equal talents, to solving the world’s toughest problems.”

Keren Perla, director of Alberta’s CoLab

“If recent events highlight anything, it is that there is diversity in diversity and the importance of embracing this. As women and as leaders, we need to continue to see the future as plural – a future that honours all stories as valid and celebrates what makes us all unique.”

Holly Ransom, chief executive of Emergent and co-chair of the UN Women Entrepreneurs Coalition

“The empowerment of women is a political, economic and social imperative. With 50% of the world’s population under 27, it’s critical that we focus on enabling this cohort of young women to reach the heights of what they’re capable of.

“Importantly, in the context of a rapidly changing job market it’s crucial that we’re evolving our discussion around the economic empowerment of women to conversations and initiatives focused on women as employers and self employers- not just as employees. This will ensure our measures on diversity and inclusion not only capture the whole economic picture but also that our work to close the gap remains relevant and impactful.”

Andrea Siodmok, director of Policy Lab

“I know so many amazingly talented women leaders that would benefit from gender parity and greater opportunity.  But the biggest prize has to be the bold message that diversity and equality are central tenets of a modern, inclusive society.

“We need diverse role models that reflect our society at large. I’m really proud that I work in a place where diversity matters and leaders are willing to challenge themselves and others to do more. Openness is key to progress even if we still have a way to go in achieving the goal of gender balance at all levels.

“When I was eight we had our first female prime minister. Today, my daughter is eight and I really hope she won’t have to wait a generation for the next.”

Jacqui Smith, former UK home secretary

“Stale groupthink is the enemy of innovation and responsive services whether in the public or private sector. I’ve always found it incomprehensible that leaders would want to operate with only half the talent available. Really promoting diversity in the workplace and in leadership roles is good for those who work with us and good for what we’re aiming to do.”