How can tech revolutionize workplace inclusion for the better?

Our host Ryan Graham, Chief Technology Officer at Texthelp, is joined by three experts who are leading the way on workplace inclusion.

With emerging technologies, and the rising role of Artificial Intelligence in business, it's not surprising that 42% of business leaders expect that over the next 2-4 years, technology will help drive better organizational outcomes. In this podcast, we explore how to harness these technologies to empower your people and teams to become the best versions of themselves today. Gain tips that'll help you get ahead of emerging tech trends and revolutionize business performance.

Featuring special guests:

  • Katie King, CEO of AI in Business
  • Bhushan Sethi, Partner of Strategy& at PwC, US
  • Stephen Framil, Corporate Accessibility Lead at Merk

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We hope you enjoyed this episode of Texthelp Talks. If you'd like to find out more about inclusive technology, visit our Read&Write for Work product page.

Or, if you'd like to read about the competitive advantage that neurodivergent employee can bring to your organization, check out our free guide: Neurodiversity in the Workplace: A Guide for HR and DEI Managers.

Transcript

Ryan Graham (00:15):

Hi everybody. We hope that you enjoy this session, which is going to be around inclusive technology. So during this session, our panel are going to be discussing about how tech can revolutionize workplace inclusion [00:00:30] for the better. So as Chief Technology Officer at Texthelp, I'm unbelievably excited for this session. Over the past decade, we've really seen huge advancements in technology and as a company specializing in assistive and inclusive tools, you can imagine just how much our products have grown and developed alongside these advancements. We are constantly improving and making a bigger impact for our product users and customers and it's amazing [00:01:00] to be able to work in an industry that's constantly changing for the better.

(01:05):

And as technology advances, we've also seen a change in the attitudes towards accessibility and disability inclusion. We're seeing a consistent shift in society towards being a lot more inclusive when it comes to technology and digital environments. And that is unbelievably important because as technology advances, it increasingly becomes a vital part of our daily lives. It also [00:01:30] becomes more and more complex, particularly for those with disabilities, to be able to use that technology. So today we're going to be exploring how we can not only use technology to revolutionize workplace inclusion, but how we can do so mindfully ensuring that it works for everyone.

(01:50):

But before we get started, just a couple of introductions. As I'd mentioned, my name is Ryan Graham. I am the Chief Technology Officer here [00:02:00] at Texthelp. I am a white male with brown hair and I'm wearing a gray shirt today and I have a strong Northern Irish accent. I'm going be sharing my thoughts today alongside our fantastic panel, which includes Bhushan Sethi, who is a partner of Strategy& at PWC in the US. We have got Katie King, who is the CEO of AI in Business, [00:02:30] and an author and keynote speaker. And we have Stephen Framil, who is the Corporate Accessibility Lead at Merck. So welcome everybody, it's fantastic to have you here with us today.

(02:43):

But just before we get started, could each of you please give us a quick introduction to yourselves starting off with Bhushan?

Bhushan Sethi (02:50):

Yeah, Bhushan Sethi, a brown male wearing a blue shirt. I'm based in New York and it's quite early in the morning here. Delighted to be here.

Ryan Graham (03:00):

[00:03:00] Thanks Bhushan, and Katie?

Katie King (03:03):

Yeah, thanks Ryan. Katie King, white female, fair hair, wearing a Paisley top, 56 years old and really passionate about AI. I run a School Leaders of Tomorrow program and really passionate about helping AI, making it accessible for everybody, helping it to unlock biases and stuff like that. So excited to start exploring some of those topics with you in this session.

Ryan Graham (03:30):

[00:03:30] Wonderful, thank you, Katie. And Steve?

Stephen Framil (03:33):

Yes, Steve Framil of white and Pacific Islander descent. Coming from my home office here outside of Philadelphia in the Eastern United States, I'm wearing a turquoise blazer, a red shirt, I don't know if you can tell. And it is also early in the morning here as well. Yes, [00:04:00] as mentioned, the Corporate Global Head of Accessibility and also I'm the co-chair of our Disability Inclusion Strategy Council here at Merck and MSD.

Ryan Graham (04:13):

Brilliant, thank you very much everybody. And so I'm unbelievably excited for this panel and I think we should just get started and kick off with our very first question. So as this session is all about how tech can help revolutionize the workplace, [00:04:30] perhaps each one of you could start by sharing one new and emerging technology that you're all excited about. This could be something that will help us in our own rules or help as a wider business. And maybe if we could start off with Bhushan on this one.

Bhushan Sethi (04:48):

So as somebody who loves traveling around the world, I'm always kind of excited about translation tools. I saw one recently that was called HeyGen, [00:05:00] which basically would transfer this speech into any language of my choice so I can fool my friends that I can speak Mandarin and fluent Spanish, et cetera. So I think there's a great unlock there for us to be able to connect and bring content, whether it's business or personal, to so many communities, so many people around the world.

Ryan Graham (05:22):

Lovely, thank you, Bhushan. And I agree, HeyGen is one of those new mind-blowing technologies that really has the ability [00:05:30] to shape how we to communicate with each other in the future. And maybe then to, Katie, maybe you could answer this one next.

Katie King (05:38):

Yeah, definitely. There's so many and obviously generative AI is playing a big role in that and that ability to take away some of the biases that have existed. So for me, it's kind of become day-to-day. So utilizing some of those tools. But I've been reading, I'm heavily involved with the all party parliamentary group and we do [00:06:00] a lot of work with the World Economic Forum. And I always look at some of the big trends that are coming through and I'm hearing some great stuff about the metaverse and the role that the metaverse is going to play with mental health. So I think some of that activity there is going to be fantastic for my daughter, many people in my family who've struggled with mental health and someone with bipolar, [00:06:30] suicide issues, such a massive problem. So if that stigma can be taken away and we can use technology like augmented reality and some of the metaverse areas that are coming in to help with that, then that for me is going to be game changing. So that's one area I'm really excited about.

Ryan Graham (06:54):

Yeah, absolutely agreed. I think there's a lot of work to be done around the metaverse, but I am equally as excited [00:07:00] about that if it does fulfill its promise. And then moving on next then to Steve.

Stephen Framil (07:06):

Yes, certainly. So of course, Merck and MSD, we're not a tech company we make medicines and invent the medicines and make them and then sell them and try to improve lives. And so technology is really something that supports our business model. And so it's been very exciting to see, especially [00:07:30] after the pandemic, our building environments have been able to have been upgraded, uses of various technology to help that workplace experience improve. And so some of the things that I've observed is the use of various applications just to, rather than standing in line at lunch, to get that ordered ahead of time. It may seem very simple, but when you have a very large company with very large campuses [00:08:00] and the hybrid model of people coming back to work, you can imagine how it can get very challenging, especially as we're all coming back to the workplace.

(08:11):

So in addition, things that help us as a global company, as a multinational company, things that we're beginning to look into in terms of speech recognition and inclusive speech recognition in some of our tools, because we are multinational and we have a variety of accents. [00:08:30] Even though the company business is conducted in English, we're still working globally. And so there's a lot of opportunity, I think, to explore those inclusive technologies that are appropriate to not only a multinational company, but a disability confident workforce.

Ryan Graham (08:54):

Agreed. I think it's interesting as well that all three of you converged around the same thing and [00:09:00] around communication across the organization and how AI in particular is going to shape that. I think that is probably going to be a huge change for workforces in the coming years, hopefully making that communication a lot easier and reducing communication barriers.

(09:16):

And I think I would have to agree with that as well, the most exciting thing for me in these emerging technologies really has been around the advent of generative AI. I think in the past year we've seen the explosion of things like ChatGPT, [00:09:30] we've seen these image generators as well. I think that the way that they can help in workplaces is really leveling the playing field for employees, giving them access to the technologies that they didn't have before, helping them to understand content and helping them to create content as well without the traditional barriers that there have been in there in using technology. So I'm unbelievably excited about that.

(09:57):

That's maybe a nice segue actually into our next [00:10:00] question. So obviously this is the big buzzword at the moment, I don't think we could have a discussion on technology without mentioning AI in business. So with the impending rise of AI in our businesses, how do we see workplaces changing both in the short term and the long term? And what impact has it had on our businesses so far? Katie, obviously you do an awful lot of speaking and writing on this [00:10:30] subject, so I think it's appropriate if we go to you first on this one.

Katie King (10:32):

Yeah, absolutely. Worth starting by being clear what we mean by AI, we're talking about a technology that's been around for 70 years, we're talking about a family of technologies. Underneath you have all the branches of this tree and you've got the robotics. So depending what kind of business you're talking about, you might be in a retail environment, you might be in hospitality, you might be in manufacturing, you might be using [00:11:00] some robotics.

(11:01):

But equally in the services, you might be in professional services and using, let's say you are a bank, you might have AI across the board, you might have AI for initiating an accessible way of dealing with a customer through facial recognition, you might have AI at the backend where you are helping find unusual patterns of behavior to identify fraud, for example. And then in the middle you might be, [00:11:30] like any organization, using it so that you don't treat people as one big homogenous mass. And, again, I think from diversity and inclusion perspective, that's really important. So it's enabling people to segment and understand their customers or clients and be able to cater to their needs both physically and digitally as well.

(11:53):

So I think it's across the board. It could be AI intertwined with [00:12:00] internet of things sensors that are having a big impact within the workplace, initiating at reception the ability to recognize people, making it comfortable in the office, in the meeting rooms, being able to use ambient voice with voice recognition for voice prompts. Again, all of which can play a big, big role from a diversity and inclusion perspective.

(12:28):

So again, just [00:12:30] bearing in mind, we're talking about a technology which is imitating intelligent human behavior, but not taking away all of our jobs and ensuring that we have the humans in the loop. So I think it's just making sure that as organizations, we realize that AI could be used in our marketing, in our sales, in our HR, in our CX. It could be used operationally to help us do what we do better as a business, but it's making sure that we've got the people there so that we don't dehumanize [00:13:00] the workforce. So again, I could go down many, many paths with this, but that would be a start point from my side.

Ryan Graham (13:10):

And I'm very, very glad and very, very glad that everybody else is getting to hear you on this. And we have a recorded speech to say that the humans in the loop are the important piece of AI. I completely agree with that as well, AI does not work on its own, it is not the end result of everything that we need to do as businesses. It is there to help our employees [00:13:30] and to help our staff be better at their own jobs, not to replace the staff in the jobs. And another thing you said that I found very interesting actually was around the personalization opportunities that AI has. And certainly in the education sector where we have a lot of customers, that's a huge thing. If you're a teacher who has 30 kids in a classroom, being able to tailor the needs of content to every single one of those 30 kids is huge.

Katie King (13:58):

Exactly.

Ryan Graham (13:59):

But the workplace [00:14:00] is really no different. We are a global workplace, we're a global workforce, and each employee has individual needs and it's very, very hard to cater for all of those, but generative AI and AI in general can really help us to try and personalize experiences for our employees and personalize processes as well along the way.

Katie King (14:21):

And package benefits that are specific that might help with the hiring, with the retention of staff is important too, yeah.

Ryan Graham (14:30):

[00:14:30] Absolutely agreed. Okay, so onto our next question then. So with AI becoming a strategic priority for many businesses, it's really not surprising that research from Deloitte has found 42% of business leaders expect that over the next two to four years technology is going to help drive better organizational outcomes. And so how can businesses stay ahead of emerging tech trends like AI [00:15:00] and make use of the potential that it has to drive business performance? Bhushan, maybe we could go to you on this one.

Bhushan Sethi (15:07):

So as I work with organizations, a massive part of their investment as they try and free up investment spend by leaning out operations, by eliminating costs, by trying to improve productivity, a massive unlock is technology. Some of that's AI, but it's not just AI, it's moving to the cloud, it's modernizing business, [00:15:30] it's automating using robotic process automation.

(15:35):

But one of the key things we've got to remember in one of our surveys we did with 800 business leaders in September, one of the big questions they had was we're investing in technology, we see that as incredibly important, but 88% of them are really concerned about the business cases because let's face it, many of us have been working for a number of years, we've all written business cases or been part of business cases that have hyped up the benefits [00:16:00] of technology, "It's going to do this for the customer experience, it's going to save productivity because our employees are going to drive adoption of it." The AI that's embedded in it, and I'm so glad that Katie said that AI has been around for 70 years because if you just landed into corporations today, you'd think that AI is a new technology, we've been using it in call centers, we've been using it in hiring practices, we've been using it in financial services and wealth management for a number of years.

(16:28):

And so what we really need to do is we need [00:16:30] to think about the user experience, we need to think about the adoption, we need to think about the use cases and the outcomes that you're trying to drive with technology. And one of the lessons learned from the last 10 to 15 years is if you think about all of the automation that we've had around a technology called Robotic process automation, which is going to automate repetitive tasks that we do, many organizations didn't see the benefit because they didn't actually fundamentally redesign the end-to-end work and think about the outcome. So there's a lot of lessons learned [00:17:00] from history around we over-hype the expectations of technology and if we don't think about user experience and think about the brave aspects of redesigning work and thinking about business outcomes, we'll be sitting here in another five years talking about the hype cycle.

Katie King (17:15):

Yeah, absolutely.

Ryan Graham (17:17):

Excellent, very good point. And you're right, the hype cycle right now around AI is very early days and feverish almost. [00:17:30] And Stephen, how do you think about this in terms of the work you do?

Stephen Framil (17:32):

Yeah, it's interesting. I think when it comes to generative AU, you may have some organizations that are creating their own AI systems when it comes to it, like at Merck, we have, it's not ChatGPT, it's one of our branding colors is teal so we have GPTeal. And it's basically using an internal dataset as well as external [00:18:00] data sets and so it helps employees do their job based off of all the data that we have accumulated within the company. So I think there's probably a move to that.

(18:11):

But I would also maybe suggest that the data sets, when we're thinking about inclusiveness, the data sets may not be inclusive of people with disabilities and sometimes the data sets may be already biased. And so this is, I think, an opportunity [00:18:30] to look into that where AI is great and all, but it's only pulling from knowledge that we've put into it. And I'm not an expert in this, Katie is. So I'm just as a business leader kind of looking in. So if we're going to have a disability confident workforce and the data sets that we're pulling from are biased towards people with disabilities, that's going to be a challenge there.

(19:00):

[00:19:00] And so I would suggest going forward that as we're building systems and technology that works for everyone, that we include people with disabilities at the very beginning as we continue to discover going forward. There's the expression, the adage, "Nothing about us without us," well perhaps that's not quite wrong. It's like nothing without us, period, [00:19:30] full-stop. And so I think that's kind of something to think about going forward with generative AI, it's, what's the data that we're pulling from and does it have a bias towards certain marginalized groups?

Katie King (19:48):

Ryan, can I just jump back in just with one quick, a very practical, because I've done tons of research and interviewed people from all over the world and all different disciplines and so on, and I've got [00:20:00] a number of very practical tools. So I've got a Scorecard for Success, for example, which is free and you can download it.

(20:08):

But what I would say is think about, the question is, how can business stay ahead of this emerging tech and make use of its potential, think long-term. So think about your three-year plan, your five-year plan, think about the big investments, the big operational areas, and really important that that's on there. But also think very practically about the next six months. [00:20:30] And there are things, of course, the free ChatGPTs and other tools that are $50 a month. So have AI and emerging tech as part of your modus operandi, have a watching brief, for example, in your monthly meetings, a very practical thing, delegate to people in the team, "Right, this month you're going to go out there and you're going to do some due diligence on this tool. You're going to do a free example of that, you're going to do a watching brief on our industry sector, [00:21:00] you're going to go and look at our competitors." So there's a few things that people can do that are really practical that make innovation and agility, but in a strategic way, a part of what they do as an organization. And I think that's really important.

Bhushan Sethi (21:14):

And Katie, what I do like about corporations that are using AI right now is it's brought back experimentation.

Katie King (21:20):

Yes.

Bhushan Sethi (21:20):

There's so many companies that are now having use cases and pilots to say, "How do we test it?" Whether it's led by IT, led by the business, led [00:21:30] by one of the functions, and it's creating a lot of buzz. And in one of our surveys that we do globally of 50,000 plus workers, younger people are excited about this technology like never before. Typically, younger people feel anxious about technology, especially in entry level jobs but a third of young people said it actually is going to be something they're going to embrace, they want to learn about AI because they actually think it can give them back some capacity and enhance their productivity to do higher end tasks. So [00:22:00] it's a consumer grade technology that has a lot of excitement, but I do think we need to kind of watch for the lessons learned of history of where we haven't driven the benefits of technology to the extent that we've always expected.

Katie King (22:11):

Agree, agree.

Ryan Graham (22:12):

Absolutely agree with that. And at Texthelp, one of our main organizational strategic initiatives this year is around AI. And for me as a tech person, I find that very exciting because it used to be the tech people had the AI and everybody else didn't, [00:22:30] whereas that has really shifted now. It's shifted to, AI is available for every role in the organization, and therefore everybody needs to have the mindset of, "How can I use AI? How can we use AI as an organization to improve the business and to improve ourselves as well as employees?"

(22:49):

But just looking back as well to something that Steve touched on there, what I think is critically important, especially whenever we're talking about inclusion today, and that is the inherent bias in [00:23:00] today's machine learning models. I think it has been well established and well proven that the majority of models that we have now that are available for consumer use do have inherent biases in many, many different ways. So very often for business, I think the question is not how do we use AI, but how do we use AI safely and how do we use AI that it does not provide bias against people as well? So it's not, "Let's just pick something and use [00:23:30] it for AI's sake," we need to be safe and make sure our employees' safety and inclusion are really at the heart of what we want to achieve when we're using AI as well.

(23:41):

And while we're talking about the impact of employees and how AI can impact employees, maybe it's a good time to move on to our next question. So whenever we're looking at the impact on these technologies and the impact they can have on our employees, how can businesses really harness technology to [00:24:00] empower their people to become the best versions of themselves? And Steve, maybe this is one for you to start off with.

Stephen Framil (24:09):

Well, it's interesting, for accessibility at Merck and MSD, there's three parts to it. There's the digital aspect, there's the workforce accommodations aspect, and of course there's the built environment aspect. And currently it sits within three different parts of our organization [00:24:30] and we kind of coalesce within the Disability Inclusion Strategy Council. And this is something that three parts of our accessibility are at different stages, different maturity level. I would say our built environment has become very mature and digital is getting there, and of course there's opportunities with workforce accommodation. And this is sort of like action [00:25:00] items for myself to kind of continue to drive this forward where any individual, regardless of what their needs may be, they may identify as a person with a disability, they may not, but they may have specific needs that required.

(25:16):

So it's providing those tools, that kiosk as it were, of technology solutions that help them be successful. It's not so much about [00:25:30] catering to specific marginalized segments, but how does it make anyone be successful and the best version of themselves at their job? And that's really providing those tools, whether it's in some sort of kiosk that is available, a dashboard where they can pull various tools that they need and download them, things that are already approved. There's a lot of work that we have to do going forward on this one, but [00:26:00] rather than having to request a special, "Can I get this licensing? Can I get that?" We can't download software on our company laptops, it has to be approved and all that,. But without having to go through a formal accommodations request process where okay, requesting this, they can simply go to it and that way they still maintain privacy, but the workforce in general is being [00:26:30] able to have access to help them be successful at their job.

(26:35):

And so there's a lot of opportunity for Merck and MSD, I think, in this area going forward of building out that kiosk, as it were, for success, employee workforce success. And that of course includes persons with disabilities and anything that they may need.

Ryan Graham (26:58):

I would 100% agree with that. [00:27:00] Stephen, I love what you guys are doing there with this kiosk idea. I think that's absolutely fantastic. And I think actually there are a number of businesses that are doing that. I think all workforces should be aiming toward this kiosk idea.

(27:14):

The number of people who actually disclose their disability at work is minuscule compared to the amount of people actually have a disability. And from those people who do disclose at work, the amount who probably would go, "Okay, [00:27:30] I'm going to fill out an accommodations form so that I can get that piece of software that I really need to do my job," is even less. So we're excluding people almost straight away whenever we don't provide the software easily to everybody who absolutely needs it. And not only is that heartbreaking for the person who needs to that software to be able to do their job, but for the business side of things, [00:28:00] that makes no business sense whatsoever. You should be able to provide tools that everybody needs to be the best version of themselves because if they can be the best version of themselves, ultimately that will make them more productive. If they're more productive, you get more value then out of the business as well.

(28:17):

So I love that approach and I really do think that most organizations should be aiming towards that. It's not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of work, it takes an awful lot of training and an awful [00:28:30] lot of going out. And the IT guys, I'm sure, probably find that very difficult, to your point, Steve, but absolutely the right thing to do in the workplace and the business will benefit from it, as will your employees as well.

(28:45):

Okay, so moving on. I have a question and it's a very, very wide-ranging question, but I think it's an important one given the topics that we've talked today. Maybe we can share each of us one key [00:29:00] success that we've had with technology in our own organizations. And maybe if we could all go into a little bit of detail on how we maximized that success. Katie, maybe we can start with you on this one.

Katie King (29:15):

Yeah, definitely. So it's quite deep actually thinking about this. You get to a certain age, and I'm 56, and you start to question, Simon Sinek, why do we do what we do? Not what we do, not how we do it, but why do we do it? And I think purpose-driven [00:29:30] business is really increasing on the agenda.

(29:33):

So the best success I've had in the last couple of years with technology, with AI, with making a difference is a program I initiated. I've run it five times now and it's, and I'm not selling something commercial, this is all pro bono, the Leaders of Tomorrow in Tech. So the whole program is about the skills [00:30:00] gap. So we're talking about all this wonderful technology, are we preparing our young people in school and college and university to come into the workplace? And are they skilled up, not just from a knowing data science and tech and IT, but what about all of the others? So this program is for 16, 17 year olds, I've run it three times in the UK, it's always with disadvantaged young people. I'm in an affluent [00:30:30] part of the UK now, but I grew up in the 11th floor of the council block in North London in Tottenham and I want to give back.

(30:40):

So I'm teaching these young people and I bring into the program people like PWC and Microsoft and the Alan Turing Institute and others, and we're teaching young people, how is AI going to reshape your future career? Now, the good bit from a accessibility point of view is simple things [00:31:00] like Microsoft Teams or Zooms having closed captions so that they can read the text, the fact that we have on the program visually impaired and hearing impaired young students who can take advantage of these learnings. So through six or more hours of learning separately, usually virtually, sometimes face-to-face, they're learning not just what is AI, but how is AI shaping a future [00:31:30] career if you want to be a footballer or a doctor or a barrister or media, photography?

(31:38):

And that, for me, I've done that in the UK, I just did it in April of this year, I was out speaking at an event in Cape Town and I said to them three months before, "Let's do this with some of the township schools in South Africa." So we've done that, and next we're going to do it with some pupils in Chicago. Again, disadvantaged kids. So [00:32:00] for me, that's about AI and also using small bits of simple technology to bring the learnings about this incredible technology to the people that need it. So that's a simple little program that I get the most joy from and the success that these people then give back. They hear about AI, they then participate in a competition, which is, "How can AI help our [00:32:30] community?" We judge it, they come to the show, they stand upon the stage, so they get experience of presenting. And then the winning group gets mentoring from Lord Tim Clement Jones from the all party parliamentary group and myself. So it's this kind of lovely wrap of all of that together.

Ryan Graham (32:48):

That is fantastic, obviously superb really preparing our younger generation for the technology shifts that are happening right now.

Katie King (32:56):

And everyone, no one's excluded from that as well.

Ryan Graham (33:00):

[00:33:00] Absolutely. Great, thank you. And Bhushan, maybe we can go to you on this one as well?

Bhushan Sethi (33:05):

One of the things we did at PWC is we launched in the US, we launched a digital up-skilling program around five years ago. We called it Your Tomorrow. And we actually announced it and we basically said, "We are going to teach you digital skills." And we taught our teams, everybody, everybody rolled their sleeves up, including me and all the partners, to actually build automations and build automations to repeat pieces of our task that [00:33:30] are repetitive. We did that, we launched it, we built these automations to drive better reconciliation, better data visualization, et cetera. And we're using that, we're using that today. And we came up with this term called citizen-led, where we basically said, "We're going to have users define this." And we built them, we recognized the people that did this, and it wasn't some kind of big top-down program. And we're using some of that philosophy in how we now deploy and upscale ourselves around AI.

(33:59):

But really quickly, [00:34:00] the one that I'm most inspired by is I've got a good friend, Lady Mariéme Jamme, who runs a foundation called iamtheCODE. What her business model is, or her charity is, is basically teaching girls from marginalized community, mainly refugees in places in Africa, Brazil, India, the dignity of coding. So these are people that don't have this ability and they have free access to coding through this platform. She partners with many businesses and with many governments. And having spent time with her at the World Economic Forum on some [00:34:30] councils, I'm incredibly inspired by what she's doing to kind of raise young girls education and digital skills so that they can have job and economic security going forward.

Katie King (34:44):

Love that.

Ryan Graham (34:48):

That is absolutely fantastic. And as a chief technology officer, somebody who hires a lot of people in the tech sector, the lack of diversity in the tech sector is really a huge problem, and it is going to be a huge problem going forward if we don't have [00:35:00] programs like that that encourage people to come in to coding, come into AI, because it should be for everybody. And rolling back, again, to Steve's point, the more diverse our workforces are whenever we are building these models, the more diverse we can make the models as well. So I think that that's all linked together. Superb, thank you. And Steve, then moving on to you.

Stephen Framil (35:24):

Yeah, just to comment what you just mentioned, our diversity, equity and [00:35:30] inclusion mantra at Merck and MSD is really our workforce represents the people that we serve. And of course, we'll all be taking some sort of medicines throughout our lifetime so that's pretty much everybody, isn't it?

(35:47):

And just to also comment on these up-skilling programs that were mentioned, actually, I'm on the receiving end of one of those here at Merck and MSD, because as a business leader and not an engineer, [00:36:00] there's a lot that I don't know. And so I'm doing those entry-level assessments and I'm way at the bottom, but hopefully I'll get a little higher here when I get through the course.

(36:13):

But one of the things that at Merck and MSD that are really proud of, I lead the digital accessibility at the Office of Corporate Accessibility. And the idea is when you wrote the company policy, it applies to any sort of digital [00:36:30] interface across our digital landscape throughout the company globally. And it's all well and good to have a policy that everyone says, "Okay, I have to do this." But if you don't give them the tools in order to effectively implement it, then they're going to start making things up and there's going to be a tsunami of spreadsheets, I'm convinced that spreadsheets are going to be the end of the world, quite honestly, [00:37:00] where they're all kind of figuring this thing out and then it'll get lost, people will move to new roles.

(37:06):

And so having a centralized system of record to track and manage accessibility of any digital asset, I think was very critical. And so without naming specific names, we have that. First it was something that different business units would subscribe to, and now we've got it licensed company-wide as [00:37:30] our enterprise accessibility platform system of record where this is our source of truth for tracking the advancement of accessibility across all of our digital assets. And this gives all of our global teams across a very large company a place where they can do that. Of course, they have their own methods and sources that they use locally to actually do the work, but ultimately [00:38:00] it's in our platform.

(38:01):

And so to me, that's exciting. If you're really going to advance any sort of policy where you have the guidelines at an appropriate level that still allows them to figure it out at the local level, but still they have something to anchor to at a global company level. So that was something very exciting that we got in place this year.

Ryan Graham (38:28):

Brilliant point, Stephen. And [00:38:30] that sort of links back to our talk about strategy earlier on, setting strategic objectives. If you don't follow through or give the tools to be able to meet those strategic objectives, the strategic objectives are pointless in the first place. Very, very good point, love that.

(38:48):

Okay. I would like just to say, I think that's probably the end of our questions. So really want to say thank you very much to everyone for their inputs and discussion today, which has been [00:39:00] fantastic. So I think for everybody watching these, there are so many fantastic nuggets of information in here and things that you can really take away to go back to our workplaces to make our workplaces a better place and a more inclusive place. So I think really the takeaway for me for today is that we should all work together to support different thinkers in our organizations, to help those people, give [00:39:30] those people the tools that they need to be able to succeed and ultimately to help our businesses succeed.

(39:37):

So again, thank you very much to all of our speakers. Thank you very much to Katie. Thank you very much, Bhushan. Thank you very much, Steve. I myself, I'm definitely going to be going back to listen to the recording to you guys again because there are so many good things in there. I didn't have time to write notes, but I really, really want to take those takeaways away from myself and for Texthelp as well.

(40:00):

[00:40:00] And of course, to our listeners, thanks for joining us. I hope we've inspired you to think about the benefits that technology can make for our workplace inclusion efforts and given you some food for thought in how you can harness the power of technology in your own workplace.