Tag Archives: #IntentImpactGap

13 Books to think differently about technology, business, and inclusion

People in a bookstore reading books sat in either comfortable seats or a bean bag chair.
Image from Pixabay by LubosHouska.

In 2021 I read 38 books. Following from my CuriousMindsDiversePeople Challenge, I kept track of the diversity of authors and topics. For example, 25 of the authors self-identified as women, 14 were non-US authors, 4 discussed disability and 11 LBTQ+ topics.

Below are my personal highlights from 13 of them that made me think differently about data, artificial intelligence, design, sustainability, feminism, pleasure, and God. I’m listing them in the order I read them.

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem. If you are a feminist and somehow feel guilty that all the books on the topic depress you, I thoroughly recommend this book as audio, since Steinem herself narrates most of it. It’s a collage of articles written at different points in her life about walking the talk on feminism and women’s rights and the importance of challenging both the small and the big oppressions. All that is delivered with wit. A huge bonus!

The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success by Carol Sanford. In 2020, I learned about the concept of regenerative as an “upgrade” to sustainability. This book provides food for thought and examples about how to make businesses adopt practices that benefit their employees, users, communities, and the planet. However, I missed a more critical view of some of the study cases, especially for big tech companies, which is the area I’m more familiar with. For example, Facebook and Google are portrayed as the paradigm of regenerative businesses, without any mention of their questionable practices as employers and business models. Still, the book provided valuable insights for my talk Regenerative Business: Embedding ethics and inclusion in workplaces, products, and services at the Cambridge Agile Exchange last February (recording here).

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The revenge of the lehenga or When tokenistic diversity in products damages the business reputation

Paws of different colours - blue, green, red, yellow – on a wood background. Among them, there is a black pawn.
Image from Pixabay by MetsikGarden.

(4 min read)

When business leaders learn that I’m an inclusion strategist, most of them tell me about their diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives in the workplace: gender pay gap report, employee resource groups, diversity audits…

Then, I ask them what are they doing about the diversity of their customers. Yes, you can come up with 4-6 versions of the “ideal” customer and hope for the best but the reality is that humans are much more complex and their situation and environment are dynamic, not static. How are they authentically including that diversity of experiences in their products, services, marketing, and sales?

The HBO TV series “And Just Like That…,” a reboot of “Sex and the City,” is a good reminder of what happens when you play the “diversity” card in your products whilst patronizing your customers.

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What words do we need to invent to embed systemic change?

A sheet of paper emerging from a typewriter with the letters “words have power” copied over and over.
Image from Pixabay by Geralt.

(4 min)

I have the privilege to speak 3 languages: English, French, and my native Spanish. Even if the three of them share a lot of history (all are Indo-European languages with close ties and use the same alphabet) it still surprises me how some words apparently close in meaning can resonate differently. Let me share my experience with the word “engineer”.

I’m a Chemical Engineer and in the country where I pursued my studies (Venezuela), it was assumed that engineers are smart people that get to top management positions. Later on, I lived in France. There, to be an engineer has even more prestige! If you happen to graduate from one of the Grandes Écoles d’Ingénieurs (Great Engineering Schools) the sky is the limit for your professional career.

So, it was a surprise when I moved to the UK and realized that the word “engineer” was sometimes used interchangeably with “technician”. Also, I noticed that images would often portray engineers as people in overalls working on power plants rather than solving equations in a computer or in a meeting room making decisions.

One day I learned that the interpretation of their origin may actually different!

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