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In response to the world’s social justice awakening, many organizations are moving from talking about diversity, equity and inclusion to putting initiatives into action.

Meeting planners are seeking out authoritative Black perspectives, accomplished Black professionals are being appointed to leadership positions, and companies are actively working to root out conscious or unconscious biases in product development, supply chains, brand messages and the workplace.

As you make decisions around leadership, company culture, technology and innovation for 2021 and beyond, be sure to keep these recognized experts in mind. Their proven frameworks, strategies and tools will make all the difference.

The Advantages of Inclusive Leadership

Renee Richardson Gosline

MIT Digital Marketing Scientist Focused on Human-centered AI that Improves Customer Experience by Addressing Human and AI Bias

How can we develop tech that improves choice and builds trust among the customers we serve? MIT marketing strategist Renee Richardson Gosline teaches leaders in every sector how to leverage AI to build authentic connections with a wide range of consumers. She applies her expertise in digital marketing and behavioral economics to the goals of inclusive leadership, equipping such organizations as IBM, P&G, Johnson & Johnson and Salesforce with powerful tools for understanding and reaching diverse audiences. Gosline’s recently co-authored Harvard Business Review article illuminates how business schools play a critical role in creating value for Black stakeholders and customers. She continues to help leaders in every sector exponentially drive growth by helping them incorporate business experiments and human-centered AI into their organizations to ensure inclusive practices and diversity of thinking.

Tommy Amaker

Award-winning Harvard Men’s Basketball Coach and Transformative Educator Focused on Building Inclusive and Innovative Organizations, Leaders and Teams

As Harvard’s all-time winningest basketball coach, Tommy Amaker is an expert at driving performance outcomes. An inspiring and uplifting storyteller who has mastered the art of competitive strategy, he devotes much of his time and energy off the court to turning athletes into future leaders with a philosophy of “Teach. Lead. Serve.” Special Assistant to the Harvard President and Executive Fellow with the Harvard Business School, Amaker is a trusted advisor whose approach to integrating social justice into leadership development programs landed him a role on the board of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), where he co-chairs the Committee on Racial Reconciliation. Organizations looking to drive performance, especially through DEI initiatives, have much to learn from Coach Amaker about how to inspire and maintain a winning spirit to outpace the competition.

Navigating the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Ayanna Howard

Pioneering Robotics Expert Who Helps Organizations Identify Potential Dangers and Biases Encoded in AI, Algorithms and Search Engines

What is the social impact of AI? What happens when AI goes rogue, leading to misuse of private data? How do you rethink your development practices so seemingly unethical AI doesn’t produce negative PR and derail your business?

AI and robotics pioneer Professor Ayanna Howard – entrepreneur and best-selling author of “Sex, Race and Robots” (2020) – helps organizations identify potential threats encoded in AI, algorithms and search engines, including biases that can stigmatize certain groups and influence users. Recently named Dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, Howard specializes in developing robotic and AI technologies that improve our daily home, life and work interactions, while addressing ethical concerns when deploying these systems to serve society. As robots and AI become increasingly integrated into everyday functions, Howard continues to help organizations prevent prejudices from being built into their products, messages and communications.

Desmond Upton Patton 

Leading Technology and Humans Rights Scholar Who Helps AI, Video Game and App Developers Avoid Building Biases into Products

Everything is smart these days. Smart apps. Smartphones. Smart products. While it all seems ingenious, most technology developers are unaware of the biases their employees build into programs. “Organizational leaders have an opportunity to rethink who has expertise,” says Desmond Upton Patton, Associate Dean for Innovation and Academic Affairs at Columbia University, Founding Director of the SAFE Lab and a pioneering social worker whose research is at the intersection of artificial intelligence, social media, empathy, race and society. Patton teaches companies how AI and social media impact online and offline behavior, and how built-in biases negatively affect people, brands and society. Advocating for a more empathetic, culturally sensitive approach to AI development, Patton says organizations should appoint paid, inclusive advisories made up of individuals with vastly different lived experiences who can offer nuanced, complicated and culturally rich ideas. “This not only increases a company’s bottom line,” adds Patton, “but leads to transformative social change.”

Courtney D. Cogburn

Pioneering Social Worker Who Utilizes Virtual Reality to Show Organizations the Importance of Incorporating Anti-Racist Policies into Product Development, Brand Building and Workplace Culture

Racism impacts every sector of society including health care, education, law, public policy and the workplace,” says Columbia University Professor Courtney D. Cogburn, a transdisciplinary scholar focused on addressing racial inequities, generating productive conversations and action around race, and promoting understanding and empathy outside communities of color. To further that effort, she co-developed a virtual reality tool that aims to deepen an understanding of how structures and culture produce inequity. Participants who walk through this eye-opening virtual reality simulation emerge profoundly moved and with new insights into whiteness and anti-Black racism. Cogburn’s simple yet powerful methodologies influence the thoughts and behaviors of people who may be impervious to the ways racism is still being propagated – by others and even themselves.

“In a world of rising social consciousness, this kind of proactive training protects society and brands,” says Cogburn. “We need to move past talking about race toward transforming the way people think and behave.”

Innovating Through Disruption

Linda Hill

World-renowned Harvard Business School Professor Who Teaches Organizations How to be Agile and Continuously Innovate

For many, leadership is about setting forth a vision. But how can you set up a vision if you can’t see? Professor Linda Hill, one of the world’s top experts on leadership and innovation, says this is how many leaders feel right now while trying to operate in the “fog” of COVID. Award-winning co-author of the bestseller “Collective Genius,” Hill’s research shows that building an agile innovative organization is about building the culture and capabilities required to encourage co-creation as opposed to followership. Hill teaches organizations how to innovate on how they innovate, through diversity of thought and experimentation so they can act and learn with speed and purpose through disruption of any kind, especially when a crisis requires a new approach.

You cannot plan your way out of COVID, you need to act your way out of it,” says Hill, who has been working closely with Pfizer on the trials for their COVID-19 vaccine which is now being distributed. “Act, learn as quickly as you can, then adapt.”

Efosa Ojomo

Leading Authority on Leveraging Innovation to Create New Markets and Build More Sustainable Communities and Economies

What is innovation’s role in lifting nations out of poverty and placing them firmly on a path toward prosperity – even in the face of a pandemic? Disruptive innovation expert Efosa Ojomo, Senior Research Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, shows leaders in every sector – executives, entrepreneurs, investors, development experts, policy makers, and government officials – how pushing resources onto poor countries is not the solution. Rather, businesses and entrepreneurs must pull resources in through new innovations that create markets where none previously existed. Drawing from the acclaimed book he co-authored, “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty” (Harper Business, January 2019), Ojomo shows how a crisis like the pandemic stimulates the kind of groundbreaking innovation and experimentation that generates new markets and creates prosperity for all stakeholders.

Preparing for a More Inclusive Post-Pandemic Economy

As your organization sets its sights on a different kind of future, the methodologies developed by these growth-driving change agents can play a vital role in helping your leaders and teams steer a steady course toward success.

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2021!

Grow Your Business in 2021 by Leveraging Diversity was last modified: January 4th, 2024 by Whitney Jennings