The Power of Thinking Differently

Insights from the 2023 International Women's Forum Cornerstone Conference, June 14 – 16, 2023 in Helsinki, Finland.

Finland ranks among the top 5 best countries for women and was recently crowned the happiest nation on Earth. Against this backdrop, the 2023 International Women's Forum Cornerstone Conference (#IWFHelsinki2023) convened in the vibrant city of Helsinki, bringing together 538 women leaders from 28 countries committed to advancing women’s leadership, championing equality, and addressing pressing global challenges. The conference's theme was “Thinking Differently.” Here is what we learned:

Transforming the Global Diet

The global food crisis and sustainable food production were hot topics. Dr. Lloys Frates, president of Frutura, called for a shift from simply producing enough food to producing enough healthy food. Access to nutritious food remains a critical issue, with only 55% of the world's population having access to recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Throughout the conference, we were urged to make small changes in our eating and shopping habits to reduce food waste.

Cultural competence in navigating dietary choices was also emphasized. It's essential to respect culture and tradition while promoting healthier and more sustainable food choices. Additionally, supporting small farmers is vital for creating a sustainable food future.

Happiness and Well-being

Finland's happiness ranking prompted discussions on the relationship between happiness and societal well-being. The World Happiness Report analyzed factors such as social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption over a three-year period. Happiness was tied to the quality of institutions, trust in those institutions, and life satisfaction.

During the panel on happiness, Dr. Lara Aknin, professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University, and Dr. Frank Martela, philosopher, and researcher of psychology at Aalto University, discussed the role businesses and employers play in promoting happiness.

The 2023 Edelman’s Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust at Work revealed that 93% percent of employees say they have been influenced by their coworkers in their twenties on topics like work-life boundaries, desire for career success, and openness to new technologies at work.ii Factors such as meaningful work, flexibility, work-life balance, opportunities for skill development, and trust in leadership contribute to employee happiness. To enhance personal happiness, we were encouraged to build a sense of community and self-awareness, both inside and outside the workplace.

In a world facing complex challenges, #IWFHelsinki2023 illuminated the strength of small deeds and meaningful collaboration. Thank you, Edelman, for this incredible experience and for fostering an environment where women are encouraged and have a clear runway to lead. The conference provided an invaluable platform for deep discussions on global citizenship, inspiring us to harness the power of purpose-driven communications to help our clients tackle public health crises like climate change, reshape global diets, and foster immense happiness.

Amina Colter Jones, SVP, Health and Multicultural, Atlanta, USA 
Andressa Scaldaferri, Account Director, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
Baerbel Hestert-Vecoli, Managing Director, Corporate Reputation, Berlin, Germany 
Sarah Attia, VP Crisis & Risk, Toronto, Canada