Cynthia Hansen – Managing Director, Innovation Foundation Empowered by the Adecco Group
40 years – 40 women * Theme: Solidarity
Who are you in a few words : collaborator, connector, innovator
Collaborator: At the pace we all run, it is easy to slip into siloes and individual work. I firmly believe that collaboration not only amplifies our potential and impact; it feeds us new ideas and perspectives and keeps us vibrant and engaged.
Connector: Brilliant people and ideas can be brilliant in isolation. But when connected, they can catch fire. If I were to have a super power, it would be connecting people and seeing where these introductions lead.
Innovator: It is not enough to try to invent new things. Innovation can be based on building something new or taking a new approach to solving an old problem. I love both and innovation feeds my soul and my purpose.
What are the ingredients of your success
I try to always take an inclusive approach and bring people along on my journey. It is not about forging ahead and hoping others follow. By working collaboratively, including others and their perspectives, understanding common needs, and focusing on common goals, I believe that success can be much greater and more enduring.
What would you do differently if you could?
I would carve out more time for reflection, which is a challenge in the modern world. With all the demands on my time, from work to family (I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, etc. with all the ties that these relationships bring), to community, it is always a struggle to find moments of quiet. But these moments are often where the lateral leaps happen that lead to inspiration or new solutions.
What is the best advice you would give to women who want to develop professionally OR the best advice you received?
We tend to get trapped in our own patterns and echo chambers. Spotify suggests songs based on your previous habits. Amazon sells you more of what you have. News feeds reinforce what you tend to think. I advise women to read, think and connect broadly. This willensure that you understand the global context and the role you want to play within it.
What is in your opinion the most important change still to come/implement over the next years for women development?
We need to ensure that there are opportunities and a level playing field for women, without creating special rules and structures that can backfire into marginalization. I am not a fan of quotas, but I am a great supporter of “flywheels” of all types that create initial momentum until progress can take hold and scale. The reality is that underserved populations, of all types, need these flywheels to keep us moving toward a world where they are no longer required.
How does the word Solidarity resonate with you, what does it evoke?
Solidarity has empathy at its heart. So much of my work is based on human-centric design which begins with empathy and understanding underlying needs. True empathy is lacking in so many organisations, and therefore is not a life skill that is valued enough, instilled or rewarded as it should be.
What are the reasons that motivate you to get involved in the field of Solidarity?
I firmly believe that people can achieve much more together, in collaboration, than individually, and solidarity is a key underpinning of effective partnerships. While many organisations talk about partnership, when you scratch the surface the true power dynamics become apparent: donor/recipient, boss/employee, etc. True partnership should be based on common goals, mutual investment, shared risk and dedication to making it work. I have been working for many years to shift the partnership paradigm.
How do you see the world of Solidarity and you within evolving in the future?
With the growing narrative of collaboration and innovation, solidarity will become an integral part of healthy, successful partnerships. That paradigm shift is coming, but like any change, it has to be systemic.
What is the message you would like to share with women around Solidarity?
Solidarity requires us to be truly human-centric. This is inclusive of being a woman, a partner, a parent or all the other roles we play. Solidarity needs to reach beyond gender and truly be inclusive of people.