Innovate through inclusion

04 Sep 2019

Bringing diversity to the workplace has been a strategic focus for companies to raise their competitive advantage. However, diversity could not be achieved without an inclusive culture, our conversation with Debra Ruh, CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT explores the importance of creating an inclusive workplace to prepare for the future of work. 

Economies are now challenged by the effects of the ageing population and rapid shift in technology, many fear they are not equipped enough for the work and the jobs that are becoming available. While bringing forward education and awareness is the first step towards inclusion, we have to ensure whether  individuals want to work, and whether they have the tools, education and opportunities made available and accessible to them. 

While emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain are drivers for future economies and enablers for inclusion, there are concerns on programming unconscious biases into systems that could potentially affect millions of people. 

Debra shared a discussion she had with Rob Neuhauser, the President of Siemens in Germany. They chatted about the importance of addressing issues of unconscious bias with five generations in the same workforce and how such dynamics can help build better technologies. In one of Siemens initiatives, they created innovative courses and empowered workers to understand how their brain works, over half of their employees took the course voluntarily and applied it to the recruitment process. To their surprise, they were hiring 50% more women engineers than in the past. 

As Debra emphasized, “really think about diversity in a different way, because when we think about it differently, we see more creativeness and innovation.” Creating a culture of inclusion brings in different types of people and ideas that fuel creativity and innovation as a collective, whereas hiring “mini-me’s” who have the same background and thinking limits the capacity for ideas to clash and conversations for the next big thing to happen. 

By embracing inclusion, Siemens is able to close the gap and optimize its workforce, hence delivering better service and products. This is just one example from Debra. Listen to the full exchange here. Follow us for more insights from our guests on GoImpact Chats podcast.