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3 Actionable Insights from… AnitaB.org’s Brenda Darden Wilkerson

Now is the time to ask ourselves and our professional communities: how can we shape the future of work? In this pivotal moment, The Drum has asked Brenda Darden Wilkerson that very question. Wilkerson is chief exec of AnitaB.org which connects and inspires women and organizations who view technology innovation as a strategic imperative. Here are the top three actions she recommends:

AnitaB.org CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson says, inclusive technology calls out for a workforce representative of all.

1. Stand out or be left out. Companies have an obligation to hold themselves accountable for driving change that runs throughout the entire ecosystem of their organizations. This is especially true in tech. The idea of inclusive technology calls out the need to make the workforce representative of everyone. The technologists who imagine technology must mirror the people and societies for whom they are building for. In order for this to happen, we must listen to the conversations that are happening in the world, internalize it, and make the bold actions that reach customers, employees, partners and communities.

2. Generate ownership. Owning who you are as a company means owning your past as well as your potential. The future of working means acknowledging past missteps that excluded or hindered members of your team. From there, you can work from a more honest place that prompts the forward-moving conversations that are mandatory for making progress. Ask the tough questions, make the call to set public metrics, distribute equal pay, and be willing to weather the pushback. In tech, an industry that thrives on the promise of progress, only then do you start to generate a forward-moving culture of inclusive technology.

3. Gear up for the long haul. The future of work does not mean we have to solve current and past problems in a day. Many of the issues we face at work today that were illuminated by this year's events, including the coronavirus, the economic recession, and the Black Lives Matter movement will require a significant deconstruction of systems that upheld very biased, discriminatory norms. We need to focus on progress and work towards change with the understanding that it will take time and effort. For any industry, and especially the tech industry where few women, and fewer women of color, make up teams, that means setting the right incentives for leaders at all levels.

Brenda Darden Wilkerson is chief executive of AnitaB.org. This week she’s presenting “Building a Better Tomorrow Through Inclusive Technology” with the Sway Effect at the 3% Conference. The session is focused on how we can build toward and create a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirrors the people and societies for whom they build it.

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