As #TeamHB3 make their way home from Antarctica after a life-changing experience, we share more photos and reflections from aboard the #MVUshuaia. Stay tuned for more updates as the women return to their homes, families and lives, and apply their leadership lessons.

Imagine if we didn’t need an International Women’s Day. Imagine if men and women worked in equal numbers, if men and women were leading our governments, our corporations, our efforts to tackle the myriad of environmental issues our planet faces equally.

Sometimes, when I have spent a lot of time with either a large group of predominantly men, or a group of women alone, I think what our world would really be like if we managed to achieve gender balance. My bias in answering this is that I think women (in leadership) may be the most important option we have for a sustainable future.

Why? Because their leadership capabilities predispose them to being collaborative, inclusive and legacy minded. So, I don’t come from either an equity perspective – though it is central – or the argument that having women leading is good for business – although it is. I just believe women, authentically themselves and working collaboratively are actually utterly wonderful. Also, incredibly powerful. Through Homeward Bound I have been privileged to witness what they can achieve.

I am also honest about the state of our planet. Amongst an endless list of heartbreaking realities, from plastic pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and crucial land and marine habitats (including the loss of the Great Barrier Reef), I found a quirky sad silly little statistic: nearly 95% of sturgeon breeds, from which humans get caviar, are close to extinction. I learnt this last week. It made me cry and not because I like caviar (I don’t!) but because it was so intimate and singular. Then today, I got lost in the heartache of the gradual death of the Great Barrier Reef, listening to a scientist describe, very matter of fact, its inevitable end, as we inch (or stampede depending on who you listen to) towards 1.5 – 2 degrees warming of our planet.

So, here is my stubbornly optimistic picture of our shared future, with men and women leading together.

  1. We are just nicer to each other; we don’t need to focus on diversity any more, it’s just the way we all operate.
  2. We don’t invest in weapons or the military, except as a peace keeping force, helping out in natural disasters. Over the last 100 years there have been so many and the rate at which they occur is accelerating rapidly. Let’s move resources from hurting each other to healing the planet.
  3. People feel included – we collaborate with each other, listening carefully to the outlier voice because in that voice we find growth and opportunity as much as in what the masses say.
  4. Arrogant, self-interested, competitive and aggressive leadership are things of the past. Instead, we are collaborative, inclusive and share a legacy mindset. It is what we leave that we are judged by not what we acquire, dig up or use.
  5. We are deeply responsible with assets – people and money, resources and the environment. Our favourite word is AND.
  6. Forests are regenerating, plastic is recycled, and the oceans are being cleaned up and recovering.
  7. The world has agreed on all the necessary actions to halt and in time reverse climate change – burning fossil fuels is a thing of the past. The cost of closing down the worst offending industries, no matter how painful to certain economies and political leaders, has been dealt with.
  8. We are innovative, creative, wise and much, much, much happier than we were 100 years ago. Or dare I say it, are today.

This is our focus at Homeward Bound and will continue to be so.

My philosophy is that it is important to know when you are planting a garden that you are unlikely to see it turn into a mature and beautiful thing. But if you don’t plant it, no one else will either. That’s what we are doing at Homeward Bound, planting a garden. For everyone.

At our hearts then, men and women have become gardeners. Mother Earth is heaving a sigh of relief. As are our children and their children and generations to come.