The Future of Work is Here: Panel discussion at Inspirefest 2019

The Future of Work is Here: Panel discussion at Inspirefest 2019


So, Barbara and Rasa, we’ve just heard
from you, and I will come back to you in a moment,
but Susan, you’re new to the stage, so can I just introduce you, Susan? And
you have a lot of experience both as a business strategist and as an entrepreneur.
You’ve been involved in several very successful startups, some with extremely
successful exits, like PayPal, for instance, and you are now an advocate for
inclusivity and diversity and you work as a mentor. And in Symantec, you are in
charge of diversity, inclusion and equity. This is something that Ciara Beth
Griffin pointed out on the stage yesterday. We use those terms diversity
and inclusion a lot. We tend to lump them together. But they’re quite different. So
can you give us an example of diversity and inclusion from from your line of
work, and how you make that happen?

Absolutely, and good morning everyone, and thank you for having me. I did like
her example yesterday. There is a popular meme across the internet that diversity
is being invited to the party, yet inclusion is being asked to dance. A
third one of those is the sense of belonging, and belonging is when you know
all the songs, so that’s a nice way that they’ve introduced that. But when we look at
it from a workplace perspective, diversity is is the ‘what’. It’s the makeup
of the organization, not only our physical characteristics, but our
experiences, our perspectives, what we bring to the to the table. Inclusion is
the ‘how’. It’s how do we integrate and how do we show up? How do we understand our
impact within our organizations? How we interact with each other. Equity was
something we added to the Symantec mission recently and it’s really the
premise that we all start from a different place, and that each of us
needs a separate set of tools, support and resources to bring our full selves
to work. So we really bring in diversity, inclusion and equity for full suite of
of the workplace environment that we strive for. Great. Barbara, and the world of engineering in particular, it suffers from a lack of diversity, I
don’t think that’s any huge secret, and I suppose not only gender diversity. But
how do you build a workplace with the culture that welcomes all kinds of
diversity? So people from different backgrounds, people who think in
different ways, how do you go about that? I think there’s no, like, one fast silver
bullet that says ‘here’s how you do it’ because if if that were the case, we’d
all be doing it. But I think there’s a lot to be said for, the way I think about
diversity and the way we think about it in HubSpot is that it essentially is
a journey, but it’s never done. So the first part of the journey will be
searching, awareness, then there’s education, and they’re pivotal to
actually bringing, I suppose, all the employees to a certain realization in
terms of how their behaviours may impact, and also in the awareness phase it’s
really about understanding well, do we have a problem and, like, what does it
feel like to be a minority within the industry, and actually where do I fit in here if I’m not a minority, and like what part can I play? So I think
that awareness and then the educational piece is vitally important. I think some
of the things that we have tried and actually have worked really well in
HubSpot is we’ve created what we call ’employee resource groups’. So they’re
essentially a safe space for a particular group of people, I won’t say
minority, but a group of people that they can share ideas, they can share issues,
problems, they can support each other. And they’ve worked hugely well. Within a
resource group, there’s events, there’s programming, there’s content
there’s shared think space, there’s a lot in there.
But we have LGBTQ, we’ve parents, we have people of colour, and there’s one
up there… There’s one other one but it escapes me right now.
But we have lots of those and we actually have little mini ones as
well, like elders spot, as an example, so people who are looking after elderly
parents. I think that awareness and education is critical. I think if
you can get everybody moving along that journey, and everybody’s gonna be in a
different place based on their own personal life experience, I think that’s
pivotal, it’s key. Great. You mentioned ‘elder’ there, and this brings me – to I’m asking for a friend here – but you spoke a lot about bringing kind of young people
Millennials and Generation Z into the workforce. What about those of us who’ve
maybe been in the workforce for a while and experienced a lot of changes, have a
lot of experience? How can my friend position herself and
make sure that she’s ready for the coming changes in the world of work? I think I’d get on great with your friend, actually. But for me, I think this was me a couple
years ago, before I joined HubSpot. Like, I’m closer to 50 than I am to 40, so
it was genuinely ‘oh my goodness, how do I think about going into a company
where the age profile is so much younger?’ And actually, I think it’s all about your
mindset. I think if you have an open mindset and you still have that
curiosity to learn, I think that is the most important thing. I was incredibly
lucky. My father-in-law, he passed away about two years ago, but he was 95
when he died, and literally he was the most incredible man, the
largest sense of curiosity I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life. When he was 93,
we bought him an iPad for Christmas and he absolutely loved it, and anybody that
would come into the house he had to show them the iPad. and that’s what I mean
about, like, it doesn’t matter what age you are, as long as you have that open mindedness
and that sense of curiosity, and a drive or a strive to keep learning,
essentially. To keep learning, and keep up with the pace of change, I suppose. Rasa, you spoke very eloquently there about
the need to build a space for people to work, you know, this has
changed massively over the years. We now have – it’s routine to be working on – maybe
you’re on a team where other people in that team are in different parts of the
world, or maybe there are spaces where you can go and work in the same place as
someone but you’re working on very different things. What’s the kind of the
magic ingredient to getting it all working? I think, I wish we knew it,
if there was one magic ingredient, but I think there’s, like, a huge mix of
different factors that are really important. And I actually see, also,
increasing importance of personalisation, because it’s all about creating, you know,
this personal, unique experience and we all have similar needs and interest but at the same time they are very different. So I think that first of all, the space has to be as flexible as possible and modular, because we can then all use it in a way we want it, and we can literally live the space. So I also see this increasing challenge of, like, being remote teams or
distributed teams when we work across different time zones, and then I see
those teams sitting in the room at two o’clock at night, you know, having
chats, calls, and they have those cameras and mics following them in the room. I
mean it’s fine, we are not gonna avoid that, and I think it’s going to increase
even more. But the spaces they’re doing this in have to have first of all different
areas. To relax, to work, to have chats. So it has to give you different stimulus,
otherwise your brain never gets to rest. Yes, no absolutely, we have to factor in
human biology into this. I had the experience, a couple of weeks ago, I was
in San Francisco, I needed to get on a conference call with people who were in
the Philippines, and people who were in Ireland. Somebody had to get up at 1:00
in the morning and it turned out to be me, so I have personal experience of that.
It’s tough if you would have to do that routinely, and by the way if you haven’t
already checked our talent garden in DCU alpha, I would definitely recommend doing
that and you can see the kind of space that Rasa has been talking about, and I
suppose that that notion of being in different spaces, you each work in
different parts of the world or various parts of the world, can you talk to me
about the importance of culture and the difference that makes? Sure, I’ll get started, um so
I work in San Francisco and it’s interesting because I – part of
the luxury of my job is I do get to travel internationally. I was in
Singapore four weeks ago, London earlier this week, and now Dublin, and it is the
opportunity to meet in worker cross cultures that gives us that strength. I
do believe that a cultural competency is the new competency we need to look for
when it comes to innovation and business growth. So we do look at that. 50pc of
Symantec’s employees are outside the US, so that gives us a great advantage from
my perspective. So there are cultures that are still struggling with what women’s roles are in the
workplace or at home, and so we work with our local offices on creating
programmes. India, for example, a lot of women still are encouraged to take care
of the children and they need a bit more of a flexible
workplace, and we thought about introducing a women’s flexible, or
mothers flexible programme in the India office. We had a number of single fathers
come to us saying ‘hey, what about us?’ and they’re absolutely right. So we renamed
it from a mother’s programme, to a parent’s programme, and that’s more gender neutral,
it’s more inclusive, and it really considers that all of us, no matter what
our identity is, might have different needs in order to be successful at work.
So we really keep our eye on what’s happening locally in each of our
organizations. Great, Barbara? Yeah, I think culture is, I mean, obviously is a huge part in my talk. I think it’s vitally important. I think it helps
individuals within a company if they know what the company stands for though.
So, again, I mentioned earlier that we should, you know, as companies, we should
write it down. That sounds so basic, but actually it
really grounds the employees to know that, okay well, this behaviour is not
acceptable and this behaviour is expected. And I think that culture happens whether
you like it or not, so you may as well define the culture that all your
employees can aspire to, and then, genuinely, within your business,
organization, then you as a business, you can measure yourself towards some of
those as well. So I think a really, really important
factor is actually determining: what is the culture of our organization? and I
think not enough companies do that. Rasa, would you agree? Yeah, this is a big topic and we have been looking into that because it’s a very important
factor about, like, how we feel coming all together, and I think what we realized is
that culture, especially when you have a European community, it has to have some,
like, common norms, rules, and values that are very much communicated and are put
as a common layer for how we behave and how we use the things and how we
interact with each other, and that has to be communicated all the time, and
embraced. And I think that we have to embrace the differences, and then we have
to celebrate very much the similarities, because that’s
something that brings us together Yeah, it’s getting the balance right,
isn’t it? And finally, I suppose, because we’re running out of time.
I could sit here and talk to you all day about it. Maybe if you could just
tell me very briefly what you would ideally like to happen in the world of
work in the next five to ten years, and how we in the room can get ready for
that? Rasa? Wow, that’s a big one. Perhaps what I would like to see, and I believe that we will be seeing, that in the world a future of work where we have those, like, on-demand locations, and the shops for environment, for places, for
skills, so we can obtain anything we need to grow and be better really fast,
without having a big effort and searching and accessing it. Great, thank you. I think what I’d love to see in the next 10 years. and I think it’s going to
start happening, you can see a movement towards it, is to have more human
centred organizations. So I think that, I mean, it goes without saying that
companies are becoming successful on the strength of the employees that they have.
I think that if companies can focus on the human element, so whether it’s
flexible working or, you know, different types of supports that they need to
implement to support their humans within their organization, I think that’s
vitally important. So I’d love to see in the next 10 years that it’s not just an
exception to see a company that really, really, really supports and values and
puts a huge amount of effort into the human element, that all companies would
be like that. I look forward to that. Actually, I like that a lot. I think I tend to go
technology, I tend to go ‘how do we build language translation into our
business communications tools? How can we have language translation in real-time
through email? Messaging applications, WebEx, for example? Just so
as a global company, I can comfortably and quickly interact with my colleagues
around the world. And just on the note of culture there, aren’t there
sometimes nuances? There are nuances. So there needs to have a human
touch. Yes, yes the humans still need to be in there good stuff. Well, on that note,
thank you so much to our panelists, to Rasa, to Barbara, to Susan, for your
insights in the world of work. Thank you.

Danny Hutson

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