Women's Policy Forum's Third Annual
Emerging Issues Symposium:
FUTURE SMART: What does the
future expect of us?
Diversity, Job Fluidity and Innovation Drive
Creation of New Cultural Ecosystem
At Women’s Policy Forum’s Third Annual Emerging Issues Symposium on Oct. 21, a trio of speakers led by Anne Boysen, futurist and consultant, pulled back the curtain on the impact of a technologically savvy millennial workforce on the world. “Future Smart: What Does the Future Expect of Us?” delved into the personalities of young employees, the impact of demographics on cities, and the drive for inclusion to spur business innovation.
Boysen believes that change is “bubbling up” in society because of the millennial generation’s blurring of the lines between life and work. Suspicious of institutions because of the financial crash more than a decade ago, millennials (the generation born in the 1980s) are entrepreneurial, digitally integrated and risk averse. They prefer online courses and micro-certifications to attending college. Millennials and the generations that follow seek problems to solve, rather than jobs.
“A new ecosystem is developing to replace the linear business model,” Boysen said. “Change is exponential now, not linear. And it’s coming faster,” she said.
The millennial generation is the first to grow up “digitally native.” “Their lives have been recorded online and everyone knows who they are without asking,” she said. “Business and personal activities are blending.”
For example, life sciences and technology are intertwining. She described the use of a computer to diagnose diseases accurately and quickly. “What does this mean for the medical profession if a computer is more proficient at diagnosis than a trained professional? Who will doctors become?” she said.
“Technology is just a tool to the next generation,” she said. “The bells and whistles aren’t as important as achieving something with those tools.” She added that many jobs will disappear as technology continues to automate, but new jobs will emerge through the use of such technology.
Another disruptive trend is the disengagement of services from monetary transactions. The shared economy, or the exchanging of goods and services rather than transactions, creates a new business model that undermines the existing economy. “The consumer and producer are merging into the prosumer,” she said.
Consumers will never replace the human connection, she believes. “Emotive computing is a thing, but it will never become a personal interaction, in my opinion. Jobs that rely on human interaction will still exist because we will want them.” She said more men may enter “pink” professions, such as teaching, because of such disruptions. “There are benefits to men moving into predominantly female professions,” she said.
“We have to become wiser as computers become smarter,” Boysen concluded. “We need leaders who can think about how to deploy technology so that we create utopia, not dystopia.”
Dr. Kyle Walker, Texas Christian University, Center for Urban Studies
Walker addressed the explosion of stereotypes about the inner city and suburbs. Inner city and suburban demographics are reversing as high income, single millennials move into the city while newcomers and the poor settle in the suburbs.
“The idea of the inner city as a home to minorities and the poor is no longer true, if it ever was,” he said. “The inner city is where higher income, mostly young people are now living, regardless of ethnicity.”
A “great inversion” is occurring, he continued, citing studies showing immigrants and lower-income residents choosing the outskirts of cities to find affordable housing. “Many older residents also reside in the suburbs” he added.
The most diverse cities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are outside the city cores – Grand Prairie, Arlington, Garland, and Irving. “Chinatown in D/FW is Carrollton,” he said. Movement is being driven by employment.
Walker revisited the history of the inner city versus suburban stereotype created as part of the New Deal.
“Redlining” or the designation of low-income areas for the purposes of governmental assistance created unintended consequences by restricting investment in areas identified as primarily minority. “These stereotypes became ingrained, even though they were inaccurate,” he said.
Texas Christian University’s Center for Urban Studies gathers and maps data on changes in urban population and development.
Susan Kiehl, Vice President of Product Development, Lockheed Martin
Kiehl, a top executive and career engineer, has worked for Lockheed Martin for more than 30 years, rising to lead 1,200 employees spanning all areas of the business “outside of the F35.” Kiehl spoke candidly about her experiences as a parent of young children navigating a patriarchal organization, a hierarchy that is now changing.
“Lockheed Martin understands that inclusion results in innovation. Innovation creates economic benefits for business. There is no doubt about the connection,” she said. “Businesses that don’t innovate don’t survive.”
Kiehl, who often found her family demands at odds with her job requirements, takes pains to make life as easy as possible for families. “I have a rule that there are no meetings before 8 or after 5:30 p.m. because so many people need to get their children to school or to pick them up after work. When I was raising my family, there was nothing more frustrating than to try to make an early or a late meeting.”
Gender and ethnic diversity strongly correlates with better financial performance. Diversity is a key part of Lockheed Martin’s strategic plan. Women and minorities are placed in positions of leadership and family-friendly policies are institutionalized.
“The chief executive officer must absolutely drive the program,” she said.
In hiring, Lockheed Martin does outreach to ensure a diverse applicant pool, but Kiehl admits the disciplines required in the aerospace industry don’t attract minorities and women in great numbers. “My message is STEM is a girl thing” she emphasized. Lockheed Martin also forms relationships with predominantly minority educational institutions to encourage applicants; it also operates an active internship program.
“Women and men create equally,” Kiehl said. “A good leader gives women equal air time so that the business unleashes innovative cultural behaviors in women.”
She added that the reality is that by 2050, the face of the U.S. worker will be 50 percent more diverse--one in four employees won’t be male; one in two won’t be white male.
Kiehl outlined the full spectrum of leadership behaviors necessary for inclusion:
Start with Yes
Create a safe zone for change ideas
Reward and encourage innovative thinking
Develop a mentoring network
“Part of my job is to encourage innovative thinking through inclusion,” she said. “An employee’s job is to meet every commitment at every level, get and be a mentor, avoid the sidelines, encourage, promote and champion ideas, determine your secret powers and promote them.”
Karen Myers Strategies, LLC
District 9 Fort Worth City Council
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