The Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) industry has realised the importance of Inclusion and Diversity in organisations. That was clear from the recent Women in TMT 2019 event I attended, hosted by TMT Finance in London.
The event was set up in 2018 to highlight the increasing presence of women in leadership and board positions in strategy, merger and acquisition, financing and investments in the TMT sector.
This year it attracted over 150 attendees and I joined 40 other speakers from leading organisations across the world, to take a deep-dive into organisational growth, digital transformation and most of all Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) issues in the industry.
All speakers and panellists agreed that an I&D strategy is not just the right thing to do, but it’s a must if businesses are to be successful. Numerous studies have demonstrated this. Take McKinsey’s often referenced study on “Why Diversity Matters” as one example.* At Colt, we know that diversity allows for the opportunity to hear more ideas and implement new ways of thinking into our business. We also know that we now have a responsibility to reflect a more diverse and inclusive organisation, because it’s what is expected of us from our customers.
Diversity is critical to a business but also to society. A fellow panellist shared how when testing whether they could develop her hologram earlier in the year, the technology could not build it accurately on account of her red hair. I also referenced a study by New York University that showed higher error rates in face recognition technology when it attempted to recognise women, especially those with darker skin tones.**
These examples might seem farfetched, but really, they highlight the darker consequences of a lack of I&D for the future of equality. Businesses today are creating the technology of tomorrow; when these teams do not reflect the wider world they work for and within, there is a danger of building in biases that only reinforce the disadvantage of underrepresented groups.
That’s why we have a focus on I&D at Colt. This year we created a team that is dedicated to driving our global I&D strategy, as well as an I&D Council, to help build an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. We’ve already started action – we’ve agreed gender diversity targets and recently launched our inclusive family leave policy globally – but there’s so much more to come. As we continue our work over the coming few years and make our organisation a fantastic place to work for all, I&D will be something for which Colt is known. It’s important for our business, customers, employees and our wider industry, and we must all be on board to ensure the future of equality in the workplace and society as a whole.
Louisa Gregory, Chief of Staff and VP, Inclusion and Diversity, Colt Technology Services
* Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform competitors by 15%; for ethnically diverse organisations, that figure rises to 35%.
** AI Now Report 2018, AI Now Institute, New York University – https://ainowinstitute.org/AI_Now_2018_Report.pdf