I wish it didn’t happen, but I often find conversations in our home turn to what is happening to our planet. I am sure this is true for many families, many friendship groups and many workplaces.
The everyday facts of the cost of human behaviour to the very environment that sustains us are unquestionably overwhelming. I have listened to hundreds of fact-based presentations on the climate emergency. I have digested the extent to which we are suffocating ourselves in plastic waste, wrestled with the unquestionable evidence that we are destroying one of the major planetary systems for mitigating the climate crisis by our inability to collectively stop deforestation, and been forced to stomach our turning a blind eye to the 5thlargest species extinction in 540 million years.
It’s horrible and seemingly relentless. I found myself bursting into tears recently when I got caught on a brutal image of an emaciated polar bear scavenging for food in a bin, then news that the Bogong moths have all but disappeared and as a consequence, some 300 at-risk pigmy possums, who depend on the moths as a food source, had died; their newly born young with them.
The news is apocalyptic, and I grieve for the impact on my children, I did not grow up with such a burden.
I suspect Mother Nature will likely spit us out. We are, in evolutionary terms, a very new dictator here on earth; she, on the other hand, is old. She will reassert her position and we may well disappear beneath the waves, having destroyed the very environment within which we came to thrive. She will then rebuild over the millenniums to come.
But does it need to be? The answer is no.
There is an answer and I believe it is the best answer we have. We need a leadership revolution and we need to take our place in challenging the way we are working together. We need to ask more of incumbent leaders or demand they step down.
The leadership practice we have, that shapes our world today, is wildly out of kilter with what our world needs. There is no question that we are innovative beyond measure. Our brains have conceived a world where we live longer, don’t die in childbirth, can get knowledge to the most remote places on the planet, can mass produce food so people don’t starve and eliminate diseases that were responsible for wiping out large numbers of people. Some of us have access to all of this, and some to little or none, but human beings continue to innovate.
And right there you see the problem. We are always more important than anything else. We are not custodians and stewards; we are conquerors and rapacious consumers. And so, we are now officially an outbreak species.
In October 2015, I had a dream that brought together all my concerns, I was 60 years old. Today, that dream is Homeward Bound, a global collaboration of hundreds of women voyaging to Antarctica to elevate the visibility of women leading with a STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) background.
Research tells us that fact-based decision-making is, in fact, central to sustainability and collaboration. And women are consistently more collaborative, inclusive, have a legacy mindset and are more trustworthy with assets, money and people. Exposing these women to Antarctica ensures they connect with what we are fighting for and develop a sense that together we are stronger.
I love men and have worked with them for most of my life. But right now, it’s time for women to step up in vast numbers.
I never set out at the age of 60 to create Homeward Bound, to be part of this extraordinary collaboration of utterly ordinary women but it’s happened because it was the right idea at the right time with the right people for the right reasons. We have departed, taking 100 women from 33 different countries and 25 different disciplines to Antarctica, in the largest-ever all-women expedition to the continent.
It’s time to #takeyourplace and I am willing and able to lead.