Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Global impact of women and the path to equity: Lenovo


This International Women's Day, we honor the global impact of women and their efforts to accelerate the path to equity. Lenovo places Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the center of our work. It's woven into our corporate fabric, and we're dedicated to our mission of creating products, services, and solutions that benefit everyone.

That was the spark that ignited our Work For Humankind initiative, which invited volunteers to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a lasting difference on the remote island of Robinson Crusoe while working from our tech-enabled Hub. As the one-year anniversary of the volunteers' journey to the island approaches, we reflect on the positive experiences of three of the incredible women volunteers.

Emily Ketchen, Lenovo's Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Intelligent Devices Group and International Markets, spoke with several of the women volunteers who visited Robinson Crusoe as part of Work For Humankind: Carissa Cabrera, the founder and CEO of the Conservationist Collective from the United States; Cynthia Mayer, a product manager and communications specialist from France; and Vivian Garcia, an animal welfare lecturer from Mexico. Each reflects on their time on the island and how women's empowerment has influenced them both then and now.

What is your biggest takeaway from Lenovo's Work For Humankind initiative on Robinson Crusoe Island, nearly a year later?
The most important lesson I learned from my time on Robinson Crusoe Island last year is the importance of small-scale communities in leading in ocean conservation. The fishermen, divers, and conservationists I met are dedicated to making the blue planet a better place for future generations. We can learn so much from communities like this, and I know that having access to reliable technology will only accelerate their impact.

Cynthia: I'm used to working with engineers, so volunteering was a big change for me. I volunteered with three groups of local artists, which allowed me to practice a different communication style—more people-oriented, more empathy-oriented, and more personal—much different than engineering code, as art is a very personal thing. To collaborate successfully with an artist, you must be nearly as enthusiastic as they are. I treasure the friendship we formed. Art can be a bridge that connects people.

Vivian: My favorite memory is the friendships we formed with island residents and other volunteers. I'm still in contact with some of the Island's residents, who now have better internet access thanks to Lenovo. Another significant takeaway is the professional partnership we formed during the project; following Robinson Crusoe, I collaborated with Island Conservation on another project in Alaska.

Carissa: My main takeaway was that in the new age of remote work, technology opens up endless possibilities. Being able to work in a flexible manner is extremely valuable on an island of only 800 people. My key takeaways extended far beyond access to technology; I left feeling that we would all be better to each other and the planet if we lived like the people on Robinson Crusoe.

Vivian: That I could participate in conservation projects and volunteer while also teaching my students in Mexico remotely via technology!

Were there any women who inspired you during your time on Robinson Crusoe Island?
Carissa: Absolutely. In addition to the incredible volunteers from all over the world with whom I shared this experience, I had the opportunity to form friendships with a number of local conservationists working on ocean solutions. Carolina was leading the charge to expand the marine protected area in the Juan Fernandez Islands, Gloria was ensuring that young children on the island developed a connection to the ocean through diving, and so many others were doing everything they could to protect their land and communities for future generations.

Cynthia: Jaritza is a stunning woman. She is the eldest daughter on the island, and she is actively working to increase international recognition of the Islanders as a Tribe, which will ultimately aid the island in protecting its natural resources and providing greater autonomy to the local population. She is enthralled by the island, its people, its history, and its culture. I met with her several times, and you can tell by the look in her eyes that this isn't just a job for her; it's her life mission. How many people can say they've discovered their life's purpose? I'll be following her stories and progress as she shares more insights into island life.

Vivian: Several, but the women who most inspired me were Jaritza and Myriam. They are both working in different ways to protect the island. Myriam accomplished this through her work with tourists.

How have you used technology to benefit humanity since leaving Robinson Crusoe?
Carissa: Yes. After witnessing and assisting small groups in bringing big ideas to life through the use of technology, I left Robinson Crusoe with the confidence to think bigger in my conservation journey. I discovered that the local sustainable fishing rules were developed by a group of 15-25 fishermen. Anything is possible when small groups of passionate people come together around the same shared values and have access to modern technology and connectivity.

Cynthia: Through my volunteer work, I've come to understand how difficult it is for artists to grasp technology and use it for their own benefit. So I created my own online art gallery for fantasy artists, utilising cutting-edge technology to assist them and provide them with a new source of income. We need better systems in place, including human networks of support, if we want artists to focus on their art.

Vivian: I'll keep using technology to track wildlife species and teach students about the importance of wildlife and nature conservation.

The theme of this year's International Women's Day is equity. What does it mean to #EmbraceEquity in your own words?
Equity is about ensuring that everyone has equal access to resources such as technology, education, and career paths. Systemic and intentional inequities afflict various demographics around the world. It is up to those of us with privilege, of whatever kind, to ensure that everyone is present at the table contributing to solutions. I've discovered that embracing equity entails making sure programs are diverse, listening to different points of view, and speaking up for those who might not be heard otherwise.

Cynthia: "Embrace Equity" means adapting to an individual's unique challenges or characteristics. It applies equally to men and women, the elderly, people with or without disabilities, people with or without a family, people with or without a religion, and so on. You can customise the work environment you want to provide them with, including the tasks, working style, and schedule. On the other hand, you can tailor your services and products to best serve them. We all deserve to be respected and to be able to thrive.

Vivian: Taking action in our communities to promote equity, harmony, and union in order to ensure that all women have access to the resources they require to succeed.