My speech for Women Entrepreneurship day 2019

I spoke at Women entrepreneurship day 2019 conducted by Female Founders of the Future at Klub in Copenhagen back in November.

I didn’t memorize my full speech as I wrote it (you really never do) – but here it is:

Hi there – My name is Henriette. I am an entrepreneur, a seeker, a climate activist, a feminist, I am a mother to a teenage girl, a leader, and currently the head of brand and engagement at the Climate NGO CARE as well as being Denmarks first + Social Good Connector under UN foundation.

I was invited here to talk to you about ‘investing in Gender Equality’. Which is something I feel very strongly about – probably because it’s something I have been working on as an entrepreneur, first trying to get a maternity fond for entrepreneurs implemented in Denmark, and later as the CEO and founder of Geek Girl Denmark and Geek Girl Magazine.

Geek Girl magazine I almost won an ivækst award for, in the female entrepreneur category – teaching tech to other women – doing stuff differently. As a ‘Female found media icon’ I got fed up with being a role model – because I am not really. I am chaotic and imperfect and I didn’t feel I could live up to everything they wanted me to

So -after geek girl magazine I decided to change lanes and head towards climate action – Something that has always been close to my heart ever since I was a young teen being told by my teacher that the ozone layer was going to kill the planet. I did a lot of research on sustainability and climate action at the biggest Nordic sustainable think tank where I was employed as a brand director. And I found my bridge between sustainability and gender equality:

Do you know, what, according to Paul Hawken, and his Project Drawdown is the number 1 thing we can do to conduct climate action?

Invest in Women and Girls.

 If I put my NGO hat on, It has been proven time and time again, that if you invest in a woman or a girl in the global south she will not only use the opportunity for growth for herself, she will also elevate the rest of the village. The return on investment in investing in women and girls is so much higher than if you invest traditionally.

The same goes for teams with a female co-founder in startups: Startups perform differently.

As the old saying goes, we can’t keep doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. Right now, not one single country in the world is on track to meet SDG no 5- Gender equality. Even though gender equality has been agreed upon as a human right.

 Denmark is leading on a number of factors under SDG 5, but we can ALL do something to save the world, and yes. I do mean save the world. When you help a girl, you help a village. When you help a woman you are constructively doing climate action. 

If you as a dane, as an entrepreneur  want to do social good, you can start by helping another woman – look at the person next to you and SMILE =) You can do something life altering for this woman, you can believe in her strength, connect her to other people. Help her see her own badassness. Help her see her ‘Mad Skills’. Give her chances she normally wouldn’t be getting. 

We need to make different choices. The world calls for our responsibility, our personal responsibility and the responsibility as humanity. As Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in his latest book ‘we are all the weather’ – we all need a personal climate plan, a family climate plan. We also need a personal gender equality plan. We need to find out HOW we will act around climate and gender and every other of the SDGs– how are we going to make ourselves accordable?

How are we going to make the global goals our personal goals? by making different choices. It seems super obvious but for every different choice we make for sustainability we are tipping the boat towards a healthier planet.

For a long time – first in tech and women and then in sustainability I’ve heard people saying ‘ enough talking, it’s time for action’ And we’re fucking still talking about how much time for action it is – but we are doing the safe things – men in suits are becoming ‘chief innovation officers’ all around the world and I can’t stand it. Where are the wildcards?– where’s the misfits? Where are the women? The ones needed to make a powerful change?

If you decide to make a woman a partner of your VC firm – you are doing social good. If you’re making a woman the co-founder of your startup. Social good. You are showing the world that you are innovative, that you are choosing differently, even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s EXACTLY these choices we need. As is eating less meat. Driving electric cars. And you know what Probably your whole team spirit will be elevated because of something new happening. 

Better yet – see if you can make half the partners or founders of your company female – be the difference you want to see in the world.

And those women will be the role models for other women who want to work in a startup – who wants to vet and invest in startups as VC’s. Those women will be visible beacons in a field where women are normally invisible. They don’t exist. This is especially if you ask the business conference organizers who are (still) creating all-male panels.

Look at us, as a group.  Take me as an example: When I started in the tech industry back in 2001 – we were 3 women out of a team of 100 men. A secretary, me as a developer, and an HR person. 

Now we’re at a sold-out event celebrating female founders. At my first web conference (reboot 2005) we weren’t that many women either. But it made us talk and network and think about that more women should be at these tech conferences – and some of us decided to do something about it. 

We can all make a difference – we can all be social good activists – we can all work to change this fucked up world -and we need to. 

What I came here to say Is not just ‘invest in gender equality’ – it’s more to ‘invest in different’ choices. Invest in your own actions making these badass women visible.

Thank you. 

Halfway into the decade of action:​ what’s your strategy?

If you’re thinking you don’t need to have a strategy for the decade of action – well.. that also has an impact =)

During my work with CARE, I have recently become aware that when you start using a tone of voice that’s more defining and bolder, as well as adding a visual identity that’s edgier, then something happens externally for sure.

But something also happens internally with the office space and your colleagues. At CARE I feel inclined to say that we all are highly skilled geeks within our field, but to have climate and justice geeks unite under a new cool identity and a new cool tone of voice (and soon a new cool website) is a definite surplus. And it’s something that’s so well in line with the UN’s call for making this decade the ‘decade of action’.

How are your colleagues receiving the new initiatives?

ALL my colleagues are happy about it. It’s like that we, by lifting the brand, also lifts my colleagues pride in their work. All these wonderful people, that I pride myself on working with are also working towards a common goal of real impact for the most climate-vulnerable people in the world – which most of the time happens to be women and children…

If you have problems figuring out how much you can do in the world – look at the startups. They execute on new ideas all the time. There’s nobody questioning what they usually do in some setting, because ‘what they usually do’ doesn’t exist. Everything is new, everything is trial and error. Everything is ‘fail fast and break things’. And we can all do something. But are we willing to do what we can? Is there an alternative by now? not really.

Are we willing to do what we can for the decade of action?

Question posed by Henriette Weber

Every human, family business, cyborg, corporation, you name it, need to commit to doing what they can for the world. It’s like humanity huddling together and saying ‘a’right, let’s turn this titanic around’.

Every partnership needs to have social good aspects. They need to be aligned with the SDGs – every startup needs to be impactful, otherwise, I throughout don’t believe they will succeed (not if they start now at least).

We all need to do what we can to make this planet heal and well function again… It’s going to take a long time before we get there – but we can all do our share to make this the decade of action something and most of us can do more than others.

A poem to cows, food and climate action

I am listening to Jonathan Safran Foer’s book ‘We are the weather – saving the planet begins at breakfast’ and a new mind-blowing report that RethinkX published on food and agriculture is out.

Listening to ‘We are the weather’ is both nerve wrecking, but also comes with a plan. I recommend it – that is, a part from those times where I just want to throw my headphones in a corner and rock myself softly back and forward.

While we wait for bio technology (or food-as-software as them geeks call it) to replace livestock or dairy such as cows or cheeses made by yeast cells at new culture to go mainstream: We have to keep at it, rockers!

So we can all do our share in shaping the world for tomorrow. Which includes: eating less meat, flying less and keeping fossil fuel in the ground.

Jonathan discusses in his book that we all should just eat dairy and meat at dinner – not breakfast and not lunch. I digg it. In fact I digg it so much that it is the next step on my own personal ‘let’s not eat that much meat people’ staircase to be introduced to my loved ones – a part from cutting beef from the menu, and turning the vegetables up. And some of us could go vegetarian around breakfast and lunch right?

Agriculture is about to be spotify-ied

And totally up the ‘We are the weather’ alley, I saw this morning that something is finally going to be done about livestock and agriculture which accounts for around 24 % of total co2 emissions – and you know.. Cutting or burning down the amazonas.

But: (there’s a new RethinkX report on food and agriculture that says that the next ‘industry’ to be disrupted is agriculture’. in 10 years time the report says that the number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen with 50 %, and that all other livestock industries will suffer a similar fate – because of precision biology.

So should we all just wait 10 years before doing anything about the climate as individuals? When we are not panicking? Hellz-no. Just do whatever you can. Speak up. Join a strike (I will be joining the climate strike tomorrow in New York). At least, don’t eat cows, next step is pork and the last step is chicken. Livestock are lovely beings, but fx. when 95% of cows are being produced for meat purposes only, it’s really sad and they become production more than animals. Which could be why they made up the livestock word in the first place.

Serve and save the world, rockers! – I will be talking more about climate, business, those pesky Global Goals sooner than you know.

until then:

Deliveries on: Being a +SocialGood Connector

Could somebody pinch me? Recently I have had the great honor to be announced as one of the +SocialGood Connectors – class of 2019-2020. In addition to that, I am going to New York tomorrow to be a part of Social Good Summit, +SocialGood Connector training, UN General Assembly Week, Climate Strike, hanging out with colleagues from CARE and SO much more.

So what am I looking forward to in New York?

Can I speak on behalf of (wo)mankind?

Thanks.

I will speak of behalf of humanity then. I hope that UNGA this year will bring exponential Climate Action. I hope UNGA will bring 2015-style-hope. Hope in the world. Hope that countries will double their commitments to Climate Action. Hope that the SDGs will be reached in 2030 and hope that we will do better. It’s needed. For them kids.

What if we don’t get exponential Climate Action?

Then I will keep finding every corner of positivity in these grand challenges. But I have a good feeling about UNGA.

Why are you going to be there, Henriette?

Because it’s important. I will both take stories with me back to Denmark, CARE and the nordics, And I will also be writing about what’s going on in Denmark and the Nordics on some of the global platforms.

I will serve as a +Social Good Connector for 2 years so I need to figure out how I can serve Gaia (you know, the planet) to the best of my abilities as well.

Do not be reasonable

George Bernard Shaw once said ‘all progress depends on not being reasonable’. The planet needs unreasonableness for climate action from every angle, and it needs it now.

I sometimes feel it in me, when my friends throw cigarette buds in a sewer or I am opening plastic from the stores to get my groceries into my fridge.

I am getting into an anxiety driven mood of ‘what a fucking waste’ combined with climate depression turning into climate action over time. It mystifies me at my core, that we as inhabitants on a planet has build a capitalistic system in such little support to the ecosystem it stands on.

I feel sad when I open the news seeing what weather- apocalyptic scenarios are happening around the world, and I am saying my prayers that nothing has happened in Denmark – yet. And I wonder: why is it that we haven’t implemented the solutions ready-at-hand by now? who are the hesitant decision-makers that we need to convince that this is something to be dealt with, in real-time.

I read a quote today by Gus Speth saying that ‘the top environmental problems is selfishness, greed and apathy. To deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and we scientists don’t know how to do that.

Luckily a lot of other people do, they just need to be mobilized towards climate action also. We need the people working in the spiritual and cultural spheres to help people ‘not being reasonable’ and start directing their work towards Gaia or ‘Mother Earth’.

Anybody out there want to help me, make that happen? Of course, something is already stirring in my cauldron=) and I can’t wait to show it to you – soon.

Living in the midst of a rising climate movement

Since the danish elections last week, the world has looked greener and more red. The night was pretty euphoric to me. Not only did the ‘lefties’ end up gaining majorly to form a government, the whole election became very climate-centric. In fact the numbers around the elections where just out this morning, and 24 % of the subjects that was spoken about during the elections was climate -related. It seems like our common consciousness and care for the planet is starting to take center-stage and well.. it is about time. Maybe humanity as a whole is tired of patriarchy and consumption capitalism? I think a part of it is beginning to be, and hopefully the rest of humanity will follow.

If I wind back a couple of years, to when I was director for brand and involvement at a think tank in Copenhagen, I decided that we need to do so much more to make people get together around climate, we needed to educate, co-create and communicate together with other organisations in order to start conducting action on climate – to make every person on the planet know that they need to do their share. I used to call it our ‘own little corner of the sustainability movement’ -and it was. I started to look out for other climate movement building initiatives and decided to become a climate reality leader (and I was personally trained in climate issues in June last year in Berlin by Al Gore). And lately I have been taken part in klimamarch as well as Fridays for Future in Copenhagen (together with my not-so-mini-geek-anymore). If I look to the UK I can see Extinction Rebellion rising, and in the US you have the Sunshine movement and the new green deal.

I can see very straight parallels to the demonstrations and movement happening in 1968 – and some might even call it the 1968 of our time – but it’s with such a bigger impact because of the internet and technology. It’s truly awe-inspiring to be a part of.

But all of these things seems like humanity’s answer to the global meta-crisis. All these movements are a choice towards the planet and towards a more people, animal and planet -caring humanity.

It’s a political move empowered by the people – of Denmark, at least. And I am hoping more citizens in other countries will join us in this move. It’s the wish for a different and sustainable world. And it looks lovely from here =)

Have you been to a climate demonstration yet?

Yesterday it happened again. I found myself amongst the people in front of the danish parliament, screaming my lungs out for Climate Action and Greta Thunberg. We want the politicians to legislate for climate and meet (and meet the expectations for the Paris Agreement.

It’s the second time I attend a climate demonstration in a couple of months. it is an important place to make a mark for CARE – the NGO I work with. But also because it’s an important cause for me and my family. My 14 year old daughter joined me, and had a ball, at the last ‘fridays for future climate strike in Copenhagen.

You should join us! Because it matters, but also because it feels like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. I have a feeling that these climate demonstrations will be portraited in the history books as a global movement rising for the planet – something very needed. And it matters to put pressure on the politicians and the media on a national, european and global level. Let’s do this!

The generation with the most badass legacy

This morning the tragic news in the IPCC report came in through the radio. Rockers, we are losing planet earth and faster than we thought – we need climate action and we need it now.

We are already at 1 degree about industrial levels and according to the Paris Agreement. We need to stay below 1,5 degrees to not have completely devastating effect for humanity.

This has been known for a while – but it seems like it’s a bit worse than expected. However, we can still turn things around with radical action – actions that start today. Things ARE changing for the better though, but we don’t only need better we also need faster and more.

Is climate change only working against us ? or could it work for us?

It reminds me of Paul Hawken and Project Drawdown in which where he shares the mindblowing statement along the lines of: ‘we should look at climate change as if it’s something that’s working FOR us and not against us’.

A line that’s SO empowering – that climate change is working for us, making us become our most purposeful and action-driven selves. Transforming the world through our actions.

I hope you can feel the empowerment right now – I sure can.  What if we started to own this statement, and started to transform the world every day?

What if we could be generation that transformed the planet through the power we all have, at every given level of society. the opposite is really grim: being the generation that lost planet earth to climate change because of the way our society is structured.

The generation with the most badass legacy

We could become the generation with the most badass legacy. The generation that turns this around. The generation that hands our planet over to our kids and say ‘we’ve worked it out, you will be alright’ instead of saying ‘doom and gloom’.

I know, we can do this together, we can’t lose  faith and turn into small depressed cocoons. We need to do way more to transform things in the right direction.

So let’s do this! Let’s become the generation with the most badass legacy!