Digital inclusion: what can employers do to lead by example?
In an interactive and audience-led panel discussion, Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community (BITC), talked digital inclusion with Chris Jones, chief executive of City & Guilds Group; CIPD CEO Peter Cheese; Elizabeth Fagan, senior VP and MD of Boots, and Royal Mail Group CEO Moya Greene.
“My plea is that we should all obsessively pursue the application of humanity in the face of technological advances,” she urged, warning of the potential for job losses, data manipulation, algorithm abuse and exclusion. “There’s enough E- and IQ in this room to put to rights this issue.”
Greene stressed the far-reaching impact of the digital revolution: “Even a 500 year-old institution like Royal Mail has had to change everything about what we do and how we do it,” she said. “Leaders overestimate the ability of people to adapt. My unions have really brought that home to me.”
Accordingly, Jones emphasised the importance of “a retrain agenda”, while former teacher Fagan advised fellow employers to “help your people to be the best they can be”.
“In a digital world, what will differentiate you when you’re a customer-facing business is the quality of the experience and how you feel your organisation is participating in its community,” she added.
Barriers include “awareness and understanding” specified Cheese, since “many business leaders don’t understand how [tech] is affecting work and the nature of jobs. How do we fundamentally design organisations, jobs and roles that put people at the heart of it?” he asked.
Moving on to discuss the pitfalls around personal data, Greene referenced the fall-out from the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal: “Technology allows us to do things but it is we the people who should be deciding what is permissible,” she said. “That’s where I feel we’re falling down. If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”
“Who has to take the lead to protect us in this digitalised society?” asked an audience member.
“We the people,” responded Greene. “We have to make it a priority for the politicians.
“Be the backlash,” she urged.
To watch exlcusive Q&As with several members of the panel, and to watch their discussion in full, click here.