At the start of this year, I made one of the most seismic transitions in my career so far. I moved from my role as head of the public sector at Fujitsu UK & Ireland to become Fujitsu’s Ambassador for Diversity & Inclusion.
This might seem like a big, and somewhat daunting, leap. But in fact it’s been an amazing opportunity for me to realise one of my biggest passions full time – supporting all aspects of diversity and inclusion.
I came out as gay at Fujitsu about four years ago; simultaneously, I made a decision to make a positive difference wherever I can.
At that time, we formed our LBGT+ network Shine – and there’s plenty more on that on our blog. We also now have well-established groups for race and ethnicity, women, and for people with disabilities.
I wanted to focus on this role full time to learn more about diversity and inclusion, including the latest thinking, best practices worldwide and how we can implement them here at Fujitsu. That’s because much is changing in the realm of diversity and inclusion – and that, in turn, is something that we must acknowledge and reflect in how we work.
Diversity – it is a-changing
D&I is full of complexities that are becoming increasingly better understood.
Thinking has moved on from simply addressing one ‘unusual quality’ that someone at work might possess. Rather than focusing on one ‘different’ attribute, now considerations are much more about every one of us having several identities at any one point in time.
This can include male/female, parent/non-parent, carer/non-carer, people living with disabilities/without, straight/LGBT+, new starter/experienced professional – the list goes on.
Not only do we have several such identities, they change as we progress through our lives and careers.
I believe that we are at the beginning of an even more enlightened way of thinking about diversity and inclusion. It touches on the way we engage in the workplace, the ever increasing diversity of the workforce and the very nature of how we work.
It’s our absolute duty as a responsible global business to reflect these changes and work to support our peers and employees in the best way.
The impact of automation
Another important shift affecting the diversity agenda is the impact of technology on the way that we work. If used in the right way, technology presents an incredible opportunity to further workforce diversity and workplace inclusion.
We’re already seeing its impact in many areas: for example in supporting people with disabilities, or providing platforms for communities to develop and share experiences. There are undoubtedly huge opportunities for self-learning and development.
But looking further forward, machine learning and automation represent a step-change opportunity.
In the future, automation and AI could conceivably be tailored for each individual employee: providing each of us with personal assistants who understand our strengths and weaknesses and provide proactive support.
Systems may even be able to check our work or suggest who else in the team could provide specific support where it’s needed.
Machine learning may also support us in communicating effectively with one another – not only in cross-cultural or cross-language situations, but in the realm of neurodiversity.
Ultimately, AI could be a valuable tool in enabling people who communicate in different ways to engage with each other really effectively.
But all of this will require consideration and planning, for us to truly reap the promise that such technologies offer.
Plotting a course
Throughout this financial year, I am working to identify what we as a company can do in our operations to bring about positive change for our people, our customers and for the societies we serve and operate in.
To do this, I’m meeting and sharing ideas with people inside Fujitsu, leaders in other companies, professionals in the field, and academics and other bodies.
I am hoping to identify what the latest thinking and best practice in diversity and inclusion is for global corporations like Fujitsu– and how that will fit in the strategic future of our business.
I’m also looking to overlay that with an understanding of how the increasing use of automation and machine learning will impact the workforce, and particularly the ways that it can enable greater workforce diversity and support increased workplace inclusion.
It is shaping up to be a very busy year – but hopefully it’ll be one of the most fulfilling of my whole career too.
Latest posts by Steven Cox (see all)
- How can AI help businesses create a more diverse workforce? - May 24, 2018
- Exploring diversity and inclusion: a celebration of National Inclusion Week - September 20, 2017
- Becoming an ambassador for diversity and inclusion - September 8, 2017