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21 — 25 April 2021 | Leuven. Belgium
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    Why isn't innovation more diverse?

    Why isn't innovation more diverse?

    social innovation entrepreneurship community

    It has been proven over and over again that a diverse workforce leads to more innovation. People from diverse backgrounds come up with more unlikely ideas, they are better decision-makers, and they simply get things done. And yet Silicon Valley, arguably the biggest epicentre of innovation in the world, is still lagging behind. Why isn’t innovation more diverse?

    Innovation

    We are quick to blame meritocracies, stating that there just aren’t enough qualified people from every different culture or socio-economic background. This weak ‘argument’ is long outdated. One of the major problems lies in our inability to detect our own bias. It doesn’t always happen deliberately, but everyone subconsciously profiles others. We tend to assign more value to people who resemble us culturally.

    It also doesn’t help to hire a diverse workforce for the sake of being diverse and to meet quotas. It’s important to acknowledge that creating a diverse workforce goes beyond simply checking boxes. Instead, we need to come up with innovative solutions that can turn barriers into opportunities. We need to understand the cultural strengths of people so we can leverage our workforce and empower people through their cultural uniqueness. 

    The following speakers work hard to louden underrepresented voices, successfully creating the innovation of the future that is enabled by all, for all.

    "I think there are three main reasons why there’s such an imbalance in these fields - misconceptions of difficulty, lack of community and lack of representation - young women can’t be what they can’t see."

     

    - Alexia Hilbertidou

    Alexia Hilbertidou is the founder of GirlBoss NZ, a school project she started at the age of 16, that has now grown into New Zealand's largest organisation for young and ambitious women. In five years time, GirlBoss has turned into an organisation of 13,500 members and programmes have been implemented in over 100 schools in New Zealand, Australia, and the Cook Islands. She has spoken at some of the world's largest conferences, including The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and One Young World. Alexia’s mission is to get young women a seat at the table, and she believes the decisions made while young are crucial in paving the way.

    Youssef Kobo is the founder of A Seat At The Table, a mentoring program for disadvantaged youth and a leadership program for young professionals. ASATT organises monthly meetings in which theyt bring young people, top politicians and business representatives together. They aim to bring out the best in ambitious young people by showing them all kinds of opportunities that are open to them.

    Karen Boers is perhaps one of the most prominent female experts on the Belgian tech scene. She worked for iMinds, the predecessor of the tech research mecca imec, and was in the front row at the birth of the start-up field in our country. She was the founder and driving force behind the lobby organisation startups.be. In 2016, Boers founded BeCode, a programming school with branches in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Liège, and Charleroi. During a seven months course, school dropouts, unemployed people, and immigrants are trained there to build websites and apps. With BeCode, Boers wants to enable a future-proof education for everyone, no matter what their background is.

    Our last speaker, Michael Peeters, is VP of R&D for Connectivity at imec. He is no stranger to what it means to work with an international and diverse group of talented people. Imec has a very diverse & international reach, working with employees from over 97 countries and offices in Leuven, Ghent, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Hsinchu, Shanghai, and Bangalore, and representatives in San Francisco and Tokyo. They launched an active diversity & inclusion programme to ensure that innovation can come from anyone and anywhere.

    And you, what are you doing to enable a more diverse future?

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