One of the interesting projects being supported by HP’s Print side and passionately embraced by its executive staff is the effort so have children’s stories told. Dion Weisler’s personal message is particularly powerful. The stories HP is collecting aren’t stories written by adults for children but by children and generally for children. But not just any children, little girls who often live in places where girls are undervalued and mistreated.
I’ve personally been deeply upset by the practices portrayed in the book Brotopia. The practices highlighted in that book (which everyone in tech should read) are embraced by some of the most powerful leaders in Silicon Valley and are expressly focused on the sexual harassment of women at diabolic scale. The portrayal in the book suggests all executives in Silicon Valley are heartless, abusing monsters. They actually aren’t.
That’s why I found HP’s efforts so touching, because it is a strong counterpart to the idea that The Valley not only doesn’t care about women, that it is motivated to mistreat them. HP, in contrast, has some of the most powerful women executives in the industry and this latest effort is about taking girls and raising them up to be storytelling heroes at a young age in the hope that they will never have to say #metoo. HP is partnering to create a better future for girls at risk.
Fortunately, a few companies have realized that it is often more important to stand up for something noble than to just button down and push product. An increasing number of executives are coming around to the idea that working for a better world raises all boats and is far more meaningful in the end than just making another buck.
HP’s partner is Girl Rising and their latest joint effort is collecting stories from girls all over the world in all genres to be published and distributed. You can see one example of how a story was created here. In this story, all non-verbal, you’ll see a young girl put aside her daily concerns to create a fantasy that not only lifts her up but lifts up her classmates as well. It also showcases a teacher who, rather than enforcing rules that kill creativity, sees a spark of magic in her young student and fans that spark into a fire which results in additional beauty in the world.
Many of the places these children live are very harsh and even a moment of happiness is cherished gift. So, this is as much about the teacher, and young girl’s parents, who allow her to express her muse as it is about the creativity of the young girl. You see, kids have amazing imaginations and wonder, and often—rather than nurturing those capabilities, which might allow the child to grow up to become an amazing artist—they force rules that turn them towards less creative jobs these kids hate as adults.
Particularly girls and young women who are forced into marriages and child rearing very early in life miss the opportunity to become artists and, I think, the world is a much duller place as a result. Girls face challenges their male peers do not, on top of early marriage, there is sex trafficking, domestic slavery, and gender-based violence.
What is also interesting is that Girl Rising was created by a group of ex-journalists focused on the goal of ending global poverty. They eventually felt that educating girls would have the greatest impact on this goal and in 2013 they released their first film on the effort.
This is only one of many efforts that HP has aggressively invested in to raise up and empower future women executives.
Wrapping Up: Putting Passion For People Into The Brand
I spoke to Antonio Lucio, HP’s storied CMO, who briefed me on this effort. He pointed out that it was integral to the HP brand image. That image is based round 5 efforts underlying the primary goal that HP’s brand must stand the test of time. HP must be anchored in the purpose of making life better for everyone, everywhere. It must have positive impact on real people’s lives. It must have a strong positive emotional connection to those that see it. It must have as core elements consistency with HP’s values. These values are sustainability (good for the planet), people, communities, diversity, and inclusion. And finally, HP needs to be constantly reinventing itself.
This effort crosses several of those values and in the shadow of the book Brotopia, it is really refreshing to see a company stand up and make a contrasting difference. This war on women must end, and HP is one of the firms stepping up to help make that happen.