The tech sector has come under fire recently for a lack of diversity in its workforce, particularly with respect to gender. Asheen Phansey, who heads up the Sustainable Innovation Lab at French software firm Dassault Systèmes, noted this issue at the 2014 Net Impact conference — saying gender diversity is “critical” for technology companies.
“As with most companies, we have a pretty unbalanced workforce that is predominantly male,” Phansey said. “Something that [Dassault] strives for from a business setting is first getting more women involved in our company, in everything from technology to management, and also looking to the percentage of women total to the percentage of women that are managers.”
“That’s important because there are a lot of qualities of how a female executive approaches a problem that tend to be, on average, different from how a male executive will approach a function.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Phansey goes on to explain how gender diversity, as well as diversity of workplace function, come into play at Dassault — and why businesses both inside and outside the tech sector should care — in this three-minute clip.
“We have a global audience of students, and so for us diversity in the workplace is important so that we can reflect the diversity of our customer base,” Meg Evans, manager of social innovation for Udemy, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“We want to be able to make sure to understand both our customers of students and customers of instructors.”
Udemy, an online marketplace for teaching and learning, hosts more than 4 million students from all over the world. Education is a key component of the diversity conversation, and disruptive, skills-based education platforms like Udemy provide intriguing prospects outside of traditional two- and four-year colleges.
The company offers over 20,000 courses in 53 languages, with more than 10 million course enrollments in its young history. Udemy’s base of 10,000 instructors is also global, Evans continued, so making diversity a priority is a natural fit for the company.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Evans goes on to explain how maintaining a diverse workforce has helped Udemy grow into a leader in skills-based education.
“When I think of diversity, I think of diversity and inclusion,” Spelman College student Ishara Emerson said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“Diversity is all about quantity and getting people together … Inclusion is really about quality: getting those people, from those different backgrounds, and actually inviting them to the table and talking with them.”
Emerson is majoring in environmental sciences with plans to become a veterinarian. She has been a part of the Net Impact community for a little over a year.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Emerson goes on to make the business case for diversity in this two-minute clip.
“The topic of diversity is thrown around quite a bit. I think oftentimes we don’t fully appreciate or understand what it’s really about,” Jacques-Philippe Piverger, co-founder and CEO of MPOWERD, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference last month.
“Diversity comes down to the core topic of appreciation and love, and fully accepting all people for all that they are and the way that they operate,” he continued. “Whether it’s about your personal relationships or a business that one creates, I don’t think it can reach its full potential unless we’re really open and accepting of others.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Piverger goes on to make the business case for diversity and explain why it matters to MPOWERD, a New York City-based company providing solar solutions to customers on and off the grid, in this two-minute clip.
“Given all of the corporate crises [we’ve seen] over the past several decades, it’s important for businesses to step up and emphasize ethics and socially responsible leadership,” Judith Weisinger, associate professor of business at Mills College, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis last month.
“The demographics suggest that the nation is becoming increasingly multicultural, and the nexus between business and society is ever-increasingly important. Therefore, an emphasis on diversity is really imperative,” she continued. “It’s not really an option anymore.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Weisinger goes on to explain how diversity matters at the Mills College Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Management, where she teaches the new generation of business leaders, in this 90-second clip.
“We’ve known that just mixing people up one way or another doesn’t actually produce results — in fact, sometimes it creates more conflict and more challenges that may hinder business sustainability and growth. But inclusivity does.”
The concept of moving beyond diversity to inclusion came up several times in our Talking Diversity video series. In this two-minute clip, Black makes the business case for going that extra step to ensure inclusivity and why it’s important to allow employees to bring their “whole selves” to work.
“Americans spend more time at work than anywhere else,” Black noted, “so why wouldn’t we want [our workplaces] to be places that we enjoy?”
“Zooming out entirely: The global challenges that we face are massive and very complex, and it’s going to require everyone being involved,” Maggie Davies, chief of strategy and talent for Net Impact, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.
“We need diverse people and diverse perspectives in order to be the most effective.”
In this clip, which is part of our Talking Diversity video series, Davies goes on to explain what Net Impact is doing to address diversity, including a recent partnership with Symantec that allowed Net Impact to grow its network, particularly in historically black and women’s colleges. She also shares success stories from participants in those programs, so be sure to stick around for the full two minutes.
“Diversity is important in our society because for so long we’ve had a certain set of accepted rules and socializations that basically determined how a big group of people think — and right now this group of people is very different,” Maya Weisinger, learning initiatives coordinator for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“It’s the first time in a long time — or ever, maybe, in our country — that these different ideas are becoming more exposed … and we are having issues because of that. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s just new.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, we asked thought leaders from all backgrounds about diversity and how it fits into the broader sustainability conversation in business. Many of our interviewees referenced changing demographics — noting that the younger generation of top talent is different than any other that came before.
As a recent college graduate working in her hometown of Minneapolis, the host city for NI14, Weisinger is more equipped than most to discuss the attitudes of this younger generation — and why they should matter to businesses.
In this two-minute clip, she makes the business case for diversity and touches on why the topic will only become more important in the coming years.
When we spoke to Ian Fisk, executive director of the Mentor Capital Network, as part of our Talking Diversity video series at Net Impact 2014, he identified three types of diversity to frame his approach: visible diversity, or diversity of race, ethnicity, background and sexual orientation; diversity of culture, or the way people are used to working; and diversity of perspective, or making sure a broad range of ideas come to the table.
“Intellectual diversity, which can overlap with diversity of color and of culture but doesn’t necessarily, is making sure that you are looking at a problem from different angles,” Fisk explained. “You’re going to miss something if you’ve trained your people to address a problem all in the same way.”
In this two-minute clip, Fisk touched on the two remaining types of diversity and why they should matter to businesses.
“I don’t think you can have a discussion about sustainability without talking about talent,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, national managing partner of diversity and corporate responsibility for KPMG, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference. “And given the shifting demographics we have to be looking at diversity in talent.”
“When we bring together diverse perspectives, we will get the best innovation and best solutions for our customers.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Hannan goes on to describe why the business community should care about diversity and the reasons it’s important to KPMG in this two-minute clip.
“… Where creativity and innovation really happens is by bringing together different people, different backgrounds and different approaches on how they think to come up with great ideas,” Jose Corona, CEO Inner-City Advisors, said at the 2014 Net Impact Conference.
Based in Oakland, California, Corona’s organization serves inner-city communities throughout the Bay Area. By and large, these are very diverse communities as far as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language and background, he said. But local companies have been “called out,” as he put it, for lack of diversity — particularly in Silicon Valley.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Corona goes on to describe why diversity matters to Inner City Advisors, as well as why it should matter for the greater Bay Area, in this two-minute clip.
“When you have differing opinions, it just makes everybody’s work better,” Muneer Panjwani of DoSomething.org said at the 2014 Net Impact conference this month. “One thing that happens in a homogenous environment is you sort of start to agree with everything that’s going on, because you all come from the same experience.”
“By having other perspectives in the business, it allows you to broaden your perspective and the product and service you’re providing as a company.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Panjwani goes on to explain how diversity impacts DoSomething.org, an organization that aims to reach young people of all backgrounds, and how it can drive innovation in any company.
“There are so many problems that we’re trying to solve, from environmental impact, to education, to health care. In order to solve all of those problems, it takes the best ideas,” Amy Lazarus, CEO of InclusionVentures, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference this month. “That means it takes people who are different from each other, talking and working effectively with each other.”
While many consider diversity an issue of race, gender, sexual orientation or background, an indisputable fact is often ignored: With a diverse group of people comes diverse ideas — ideas that could very well revolutionize the way your company does business.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Lazarus goes on to make the business case for diversity and inclusion in this 90-second video. Keep an ear out at 00:45 for a stat that’s sure to shock you.
“Diversity has been around companies for many years,” Cecily Joseph, VP of corporate responsibility and chief diversity officer for Symantec, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis this month. “And unfortunately I don’t feel we’ve made … the kind of progress that we need to make to be successful and to have an impact.
“If we adopt diversity as a [corporate social responsibility (CSR)] issue and use the same framework that we use to drive other sustainability issues through our organization, I think we’re going to be a lot more effective.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Joseph goes on to provide three tactics for doing this, as well as the business case for diversity, in this two-minute clip.
Salinas was born in Nicaragua and came to the United States when he was 7 years old. He was, as he put it, the “recipient” of many other people’s efforts — efforts that ultimately gave him a chance to succeed.
With those experiences in his back pocket, Salinas has a unique vantage point from which to consider diversity issues: “The least productive meeting that one can have is if everybody sits around the room and nods their head,” he continued. “With lack of diversity, you’re more likely to have that sort of result.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Salinas goes on to describe the ‘most productive’ type of business meeting — and how to achieve it through diversity and inclusion — in this three-minute clip.