There is no shortage of incredible women using their businesses to drive social change.
To celebrate UN International Women’s Day (IWD) today, we want to show them off. This year’s theme for IWD is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.’
To us at Think HQ, leadership means more than the billion-dollar corporations and the #girlboss hashtags. True leadership is about having the bravery and drive to draw attention to a cause - building a movement or company around purpose. It’s about being purpose-driven from the outset.
Our Leader, Think HQ Founder and Managing Director Jen Sharpe, believes leadership is about having a vision, and staying true to it no matter how many obstacles you must overcome.
“It’s about knowing yourself well enough to challenge all the self-doubt that comes with doing extraordinary things,” she says.
“It’s also about having genuine gratitude for the path you are on and always treating people with respect and kindness.”
So, with that in mind, we wanted to shout out the names of five women we’re inspired by, and the purpose-led businesses they’re leading. They’re just a few examples of women who centre their worlds around advocacy and social change. They teach us that when ethics and morality are at the core of your business you can achieve incredible things.
To the women creating safe spaces, educating communities and championing social change- we stand with you.
Laura Thompson, Managing Director/Co-Founder + Sarah Sheridan - Clothing the Gap
At the heart of Laura Thomson and Sarah Sheridan’s fashion label Clothing the Gap is the desire to advocate for and promote Aboriginal peoples voices and causes.
This Aboriginal-owned and led social enterprise plays on the words “Closing the Gap”- an Australian Government initiative to help close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal people and non-Indigenous Australians.
Driven by the desire to add years to Aboriginal people’s lives, Clothing the Gap advocates and campaigns on issues impacting Aboriginal people and their communities. Strung with slogans such as “Always was Always Will Be” and “Free the Flag”, the merch encourages us to use our voices and show support.
But their messaging goes beyond the seams, with both women championing initiatives such as Spark Health- dedicating their careers to motivating positive social change.
By using their platforms to campaign for systemic reform, Laura and Sarah serve as shining examples of reconciliation in action.
Ultimately, they inspire us to wear our values on our sleeves.
Jane Hunt - The Front Project
Jane Hunt believes all children deserve equal opportunities to fulfil their potential.
The Front Project works to create positive change in Australia's early childhood education system. As the founder and CEO, Jane works alongside government, business and the early learning sector to promote early learning and identify opportunities to create better outcomes for children.
Jane’s belief that these outcomes can also produce beneficial social and economic outcomes for all Australians underpins all of the Front Project’s research, campaign efforts and resources.
It’s an infectious spirit, driving business, government and community leaders to put their heads together and achieve a brighter Australian future.
Earning both the Victorian Telstra Business Women’s Award and the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award, Jane’s extensive experience and expertise have contributed to numerous positive changes in Australia’s early childhood education system.
We’re incredibly proud to work alongside The Front Project to help bring her vision to life.
Rosie and Lucy Thomas, Co-founders - Project ROCKIT
Fresh out of high school, sisters Rosie and Lucy Thomas committed to making the world better for young people.
Over a decade later, their social enterprise Project ROCKIT has worked with over 68 thousand young people a year in a bid to tackle bullying and cyber safety.
Driven by energetic youth presenters and workshops, the enterprise empowers school students to centre empathy, challenge bullying and champion change. Through Project ROCKIT, students can access spaces built on respect, acceptance, creative expression and real leadership skills.
By equipping students with the language of leadership, Rosie and Lucy empower the next generation to carry their legacy of social change.
Hana Assafiri - Moroccan Soup Bar
Behind the doors of Hana Assafiri’s Moroccan Soup Bar are rich conversations, delectable vegetarian food and the invitation to think critically about the world.
This female-led restaurant was built around the core values of community justice, female empowerment and environmental responsibility. As a fervent advocate for women’s rights, the Moroccan Soup Bar aims to shift disadvantage and serve as a haven for women.
With themed rooms, quizzes, open table events, guest speakers and a spoken menu, guests are provided ample space to engage in meaningful discussions over chickpea bakes and warm mint tea.
Understanding the power of a shared meal and conversation, she created the monthly Speed Date a Muslim initiative to bridge cultural divides and tackle islamophobia. At its core is her belief that prejudice can convert into curiosity.
Hana’s innovative space and fierce advocacy teach us how we can better engage with and educate our communities.
Loran Deng & Bedi Othow - DivTal
In the pursuit of meaningful work, those of us from underrepresented cultural backgrounds and minority groups can hit multiple roadblocks.
That’s why Loran Deng and Bendi Othow co-founded DivTal- a diversity-focused recruitment start-up.
Their mission? Make inclusive work the standard.
Their online platform helps candidates find meaningful work that aligns with their experience while allowing organisations to better diversify their workplace.
Bridging the gap between employers and employees, Loran and Bedi sought out to create an approach to recruitment that meant more than a diversity checkmark.
They know, as we know, that prioritising diversity, accessibility and inclusion in the workplace leads to a thriving, innovative environment.
Loran and Bendi show us that businesses must do more than promote social change.
We must put our values to action and have a workforce that reflects our communities.