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Live From England: 3 Questions for GlassSKY’s Robyn Tingley

OXFORD, ENGLAND – Robyn Tingley is the founder of GlassSKY, an organization focused on empowering women. She consults for companies on gender diversity, human resources and communications.

Right now, she’s in Oxford, England at the Power Shift Conference.

We asked her what it’s all about:

What is Power Shift and why is GlassSKY there?

Power Shift is an annual symposium hosted at Oxford in the UK that focuses on women and the world economy. This year the theme is women and markets – recognizing that women drive over 75 per cent of the world market for consumer goods, largely because of our traditional role managing the household and controlling most buying decisions for family. I’m here to learn about the latest trends and thinking on the topic. They’ve gathered the very best leaders globally on world markets, ranging from the World Bank, the UN and the International Trade Center, to big corporations like WalMart and Coca-Cola, and even women on the ground in villages in Africa who are sourcing raw materials and producing our goods – all offering important insights about women in the supply chain and research to advance the role of women in the world economy. The conversations here are frank and open, meaning the learning is rich and readily applicable.

2. What are you learning that our readers should know?

First of all, it’s notable that Canada is being recognized here as a leader on gender given our government’s recent cabinet announcement. Statistics indicate that it will take another 80 years to achieve gender parity globally, and that’s just too long to wait, so when nations take a stand like ours did, it gets world attention in a very positive way. Second, there are tools being developed in our own country that can help us to make smarter buying decisions. The Buy Up Index was launched out of Toronto, and it rates companies on their demonstrated commitment to gender equality. It’s a simple app that tells you if your buying habits are supporting companies with women in management, pro-women policies, and advertising that is positive without demeaning or objectifying women. It’s become common to look for fair trade labels, no animal testing and so on, but this is new….a filter to support women. Finally, the critical role of teachers has come up quite a bit, specifically around how educators need help to illuminate career options for girls. Successful women need to engage more in school life as guest speakers and mentors, to show students options and just what is possible. This is particularly important in neighborhoods where there may not be positive female role models present in the home.

3. What are the next steps for you and GlassSKY when you get back to New Brunswick?

GlassSKY is all about empowering women and girls through three areas of focus: Empower. Invest. Engage. In terms of empowering, I’ll be sharing the latest research and actively working with local employers on their diversity strategies. When it comes to investing, I’ve met a wonderful woman whose tribe in Tanzania has artisans who practice an ancient glass beading technique and they make magnificent jewelry. I’m going to see if I can find a way to get their product to market. And in terms of engaging, we’re currently running a survey of women to gather inputs on the education they need. We’ll begin to assess those findings and build specific tools and workshops. Women can fill out the survey here.