Inside BSR: Q&A with Cherry Lin

Photo by bingfengwu on iStock

October 19, 2023
  • Cherry Lin portrait

    Cherry Lin

    Manager, RISE, BSR

Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, and where are you based? What does a day in your life look like? What is your favorite hobby?

I am from Fuzhou, a coastal city in Southeast China, and currently based in the city of Guangzhou with my 6-year-old daughter. Both are capital cities in neighboring provinces, but 900km apart! Typically, I return to my hometown for the spring festival and eat plenty of street food, which reminds me of my childhood.

I moved 2000km away from my hometown for university. It was at this point that I realized that China is a vast country and there are so many places to explore, and people to meet. I still have several close friends from various cities across China, and we continue to plan trips together. 

A day in my life consists of lots of time with my daughter. We enjoy playing board games, doing DIY, and playing music. I also love wandering around new cities and observing how local people go about their day-to-day lives. I’ve walked around Paris, Hanoi, Yangon, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and several other cities in China.

Cherry Lin

How did you first get involved in sustainable business? What is your current role, and what does that entail? 

During my time at college, I took on various volunteering roles, including supporting autistic children and helping disabled elderly people to seek assistance when needed. While volunteering, I was given a painting as a gift from a visually impaired boy who was learning the piano. I felt inspired by the communities’ strength and determination in the face of adversity. 

Before joining BSR, I worked for a state-owned company where I trained migrant workers. I got involved in sustainable business in 2011, when I joined BSR’s HERproject as the China country coordinator, with real passion and belief in my work. Since then, I’ve continually felt driven to work on gender equality and women empowerment across the supply chain. 

I am currently working as a manager at RISE, a collaborative to support collective action at scale for the benefit of women workers and push for gender equality in global supply chains. I am the country lead of China and the global lead of Quality assurance at RISE. My work includes working with global teams, brand contacts, and implementing partners across different countries, to expand the presence of RISE and maintain program quality.   

What are some interesting projects that you get to work on as part of your role at BSR? What do you enjoy about them?

There are a lot of interesting programs at BSR. I traveled to Myanmar four times from 2018-2019 for a program focused on women’s empowerment at various supply chain textile factories. My role involved supporting local NGOs in managing gender issues with supply chain factories. It was a full week workshop, and I was impressed by the innovative, energetic and fun approach of the young trainers at these NGOs. I also traveled to Cambodia in late March this year and spent some time with trainers from local NGOs over lunch talking about engaging younger workers via training. It’s always fun and inspiring meeting and working with these teams. 

In this role, I’ve worked with various groups and stakeholders; including workers, managers from factories and suppliers, international brands from different industries, as well as various local NGOs across the globe. 

What issues are you passionate about and why? How does your work at BSR reflect that? 

I plan to continue working on gender issues, I am also very interested in inclusion and diversity work. As a mother of a little girl, I hope my daughter can live in a world where her potential is not limited by gender, with equal resources and opportunities, and can feel confident to seek help when issues arise.  

I’ve been following public news reports in China around gender-based challenges including unpaid care work and sexual harassment, as well as the “glass ceiling” for a woman’s career. I have seen some progress in public awareness of the gender-based challenges in China. This proves that continuous efforts made to empower women and shift the social norm will eventually bring a lasting outcome.    

What are you looking forward to in 2024? 

Covid restrictions have made in-person contact nearly impossible over the past 3 years, and it was even more challenging as I work from home. I’ve started to resume in-person connections with team members and stakeholders. In March of this year, I traveled to Bangladesh and Cambodia and met team members from other cities in China for workshops in April, and this month we are planning in-person gatherings with brand contacts. 


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