DSC_0112By: Parker P. Consulting. This blog post was originally published by Medium.

Last weekend, members of BMW’s Responsible Leaders network, including Parker P. Consulting’s Managing Director Chi Nguyen and the team of the Accountability Lab at Canada’s Wasan Island.

Last week, I had the chance to learn more about the award-winning Accountability Lab. The lab is an incubator for young people working on accountability in their societies. Much of their work is focused on training, mentoring and providing resources for changemakers to be able to create conditions for better accountability. The lab sees itself as at its best when they are helping youth to unleash positive social and economic change.

The Lab calls these agents of change “accountapreneurs”: people who are innovating and creating systems of change by helping others to understand how decisions are made, by bringing awareness to their communities. The “Accountapreneurs” often use arts and culture as a way to do this: creating powerful short documentaries, hosting “integrity idol” and the Honesty Oscars and helping to create radio programming to get out the vote.

A few of the Accountability Lab’s campaigns

What I loved about this approach is that it is about building people up — something that we share with our gender equality work. It’s far more effective to invite people to be actively creating new responses, actions, interventions that can have an effect on changing beliefs, than to simple criticize and tear things down. And, like the lab, we believe that this constructive approach is extremely important not just for decision-makers but for all community members.

The other common overlap is our shared belief in wanting to contribute to a movement. While our friends at the lab make incredible contributions to civil society by helping young people learn to exercise their civic and democratic muscles, we’re adding to the efforts of the feminist and anti-violence movements working to end gender violence. We work to inspire men and boys towards accountability to women in our society. Our work began nearly 25 years ago with a simple, clear call to action for men and boys in Canada: “I pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.”DSC_0083

This pledge has been part of White Ribbon’s ask: that men to sign on to a positive global social movement. But, this pledge is most profound when men not only do this because they “should”, but because they’ve become accountable to themselves in this process.

One of the best takeaways I had from a few days with the team at the Accountability Lab is the reminder that relationships are at the heart of accountability. We each have our own kinds of contracts we make — with our family members, friends, with our governments. From time to time, these unwritten agreements can get murky and messy, and we all could use a refresher and reminder on how to keep ourselves in check — and to hold others — while providing productive solutions and outlets — accountable.