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#IWD2019: Being the balance

Let's all be the balance we want to see in our world.

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If you do a quick search for “innovation at the world’s best companies,” you’ll find millions of results—ranging from detailed research reports to quirky listicles.  I’ve spent the majority of my career working in the technology industry and, time and time again, I have seen that one of the most important indicators of an organization’s capacity to innovate and succeed is the composition of its talent.  The best companies have an inclusive culture where people are free to bring their authentic selves to work, and talented, diverse teams of people – who have different perspectives, approaches, and ideas – work together with a shared purpose.

When people are able to be their true selves, the workplace is transformed from an office into a vibrant environment where new ideas flow more easily and people learn, push one another, create, and collaborate.  They thrive in their roles, they continue to grow professionally, and businesses succeed with better results.

Mindfulness of the gender gap

Bias influences each of us every day.  Our unique experiences shape and inform our ideas, approaches, and reactions. Simply put: if you have a brain, you have bias.  We can all proactively work to manage our biases by becoming aware of them and then mindfully making better decisions.  Several years ago, we learned that typically women apply for positions only if they meet 100% of the qualifications listed, as opposed to men who apply if they meet 60 percent of the qualifications.  It is interesting how just being aware of that evidence can influence a different set of choices.

Take that statistic in context of another one: according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there has been a decline of women entering the computer science field since 2000.  Although overall, we have made progress in advancing diversity and gender parity, the reality is that we have a serious imbalance when it comes to STEM roles.  This is an issue that we, as individuals and technology companies, must help solve.

It is up to us to support, encourage, and provide equal opportunities to everyone. We can all be part of creating a more inclusive culture that values people for their differences – not their similarities.

The Path Forward

At Nuance, we build market-leading conversational AI and ambient intelligence solutions.  It’s a fast-moving and competitive industry and the reason we are at the forefront is because we value diversity.  In fact, it’s our lifeblood.  Without our differences in thought, style, background, preferences, opinion, and perspectives, we simply would not be able to do what we do: develop technology that understands the person using it – whoever they may be and wherever they may be.

Today is International Women’s Day, and the theme is “Balance for Better.”  I challenge us all to focus on being the balance.  Each of us play a critical role in creating equality, building more inclusive environments both inside and outside the workplace, and driving forward progress.  So, speak up when something is imbalanced.  Let’s all help drive that positive change!

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