Three things we learned about fostering innovation through gender and generational inclusion

Published: 28 Nov 2023

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The 2023 Dive In Festival in Kenya focused on understanding and learning from the lived experiences and practical lessons from the speakers in what they and their organisations are doing. The event hosted a moderated panel of six speakers, who were drawn from diverse backgrounds working within the industry, explaining the need for and benefits of building supportive and psychologically safe working cultures and identifying the tangible steps you can take to cultivate an inclusive working environment, which will ultimately spur innovation. They delved into how diverse and inclusive teams inspire innovative solutions, support talent attraction and retention, and build stronger relationships with clients. They also tackled challenges facing inclusion such as systemic biases and barriers and how to break existing glass ceilings.  

The six speakers were Jeniffer Nyambura – Author and CEO, Stepping Up Pillar, Eva Muraya – Founder and CEO, BSD Group; Enock Wandera – Chief Client Officer, Ipsos Kenya; Wangeci Mathenge – Head Marketing Actuary, Inclusivity Solutions; Perpetua Marigi Bulemi – CEO, The Association of Women Accountants of Kenya; Samuel Njuguna – Co Founder and CEO, Chumz. 

These are the three lessons that came out of the session:

1.    Inclusion must be intentional

Many organisations already have diversity in their workforce. However, leaders need to do more than just hire diverse employees. They need to create mechanisms to ensure that everyone is actively engaged in all aspects of the organisation's operations. For example, product development or marketing teams must seek out and carefully consider the views of all diverse groups. This will ensure that products and services that address the most pressing needs of diverse consumers are developed. 

2.    Inclusion drives employee engagement and productivity

Research and statistics prove that organizations that implement diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace experience better employee attitudes, driving success. A sense of inclusion is strongly linked to employees who are fully engaged, excited by, and committed to their organization’s objectives. To promote equality, respect, and empathy among employees, training programs should be crafted to encourage the expression of ideas and beliefs, and better team activities. 

3.    True innovation starts from within and must be visible

Employees are the first consumers of a company’s products and services. If employees are actively included and involved from ideation to product launch, they will provide tangible insights for improving the products, and would happily be the first consumers and ambassadors of the company. Examples of how engagements of diverse groups shaped various products and service offerings were given, underscoring the importance of inclusion in spurring innovative solutions. Diversity groups are not always homogeneous; therefore, it is important to be intentional in seeking views and ensuring that everyone can have a seat at the proverbial table and be encouraged to share their views. Clients are increasingly gravitating towards purchasing products and services from companies that reflect their values. Therefore, visible diversity and inclusion in a company’s top leadership can be a good starting point to build consumer confidence in a company’s values.

The hybrid event held in Kenya was attended by 300 people from about 30 countries. With thanks to our local sponsors: AIG, Inclusivity Solutions, Top 100 Most Loved Brands by Women in Kenya, Chumz, The Association of Women Accountants in Kenya