19 Feb 2019
By Alison Maitland
How vulnerable are we humans to smart machines? We got a nasty glimpse of the possibilities with the air travel chaos caused by drone sightings over London’s Gatwick airport in the busy run up to Christmas.
The drone use was illegal, but, even when it is in the ‘right’ hands, we have reason to be vigilant about how artificial intelligence is rapidly entering many parts of our lives.
At work, there is the potential for bias and discrimination to be automated. Machine learning relies on large sets of data to detect patterns and make predictions. This typically reflects past human behaviour, which inevitably contains prejudices and assumptions, whether conscious or unconscious.
One example of what could go wrong, reported by Reuters, was an experimental recruiting tool that Amazon decided to scrap when it was found to discriminate against women. Continue reading
5 November 2018
I’m starting to feel sorry for the so-called ‘Millennial’ generation. For years, they’ve been surveyed, sorted and categorised into a cohort with distinctly unappealing characteristics: the ‘Me’ generation, ‘snowflakes’, self-absorbed, restless, entitled, and needy.
Now they’re going to suffer the indignity of being overtaken by a new ‘generation’: Gen Z, the digital natives, who are attracting breathlessly enthusiastic terms like ‘Generation We’, creative, self-aware, sharing, and caring. They’re so very different from the Millennials – apart from the fact that they spend loads of time on their smartphones and social media!
The idea that each ‘generation’ is uniquely different is hype. Continue reading
24 Oct 2018 This article is the first in a series that Rebekah Steele and I are posting on LinkedIn, focused on how organisations can do a better job of inclusion.
By Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele
ARE your inclusion measures helping you achieve your critical business goals? Or are blind spots obscuring the path to better results?
Companies need to address the whole of inclusion — feelings, actions, and organisational factors – to know what they need to do differently to face the business challenges ahead. Consider this case at a multinational conglomerate.
Senior managers agreed that Devon (name changed to protect identity) was a strong performer, regularly meeting or exceeding objectives. At the annual meeting to assess high-performing employees’ potential to grow, there was no dissent on that point. One executive, however, noted that Devon lacked commitment and was therefore not promotion material. Continue reading
7 Oct 2018
What is your career story? What pivotal events, opportunities and setbacks have shaped your professional life? What are the values and strengths that motivate you and determine the choices you make?
If these questions are hard to answer, you are not alone. Many people enjoy their job, as far as it goes, but reach a point where they feel ‘stuck’ career-wise. They sense they could be doing something more meaningful, but they are not sure what that ‘something’ could be. Continue reading
4 Oct 2018
It’s National Work Life Week in the UK, and with it comes news that the government is considering steps to increase flexible working. As part of a package of measures, Business Secretary Greg Clark said the government ‘will consider creating a duty for employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly, and make that clear when advertising’.
That’s a lot of ‘considering’, but hopefully it’s a positive sign. Many employers still resist advertising roles as flexible. This is despite a large body of evidence of the business benefits of new ways of working, which we set out in our book Future Work. It often comes down to fear – especially fear of ‘opening the floodgates’ – and we provide guidance for managers and businesses on breaking through that fear barrier. Continue reading
25 Sept 2018
What we say and how we say it affects the culture at work. I recently went to collect an order at a furnishing store and the staff could not find it. When the manager came over to apologise, he said: ‘I don’t know what’s happened. Maybe one of my staff has done something they shouldn’t, and I need to slap them.’
I don’t think he meant it literally, but the image of management by ‘slapping’ was enough to tell me why the store seemed an unhappy and inefficient place. Delivering a verbal slap would be sure to shut off the recipient’s cooperation. It would send their brain into ‘fight, flight, freeze or appease’ mode, and the willingness to learn and do the job better next time would be lost. Continue reading
25 July 2018
The very notion of leadership is shifting. Where once leaders behaved as individualistic ‘heroes on the rock’, none can now pretend to do it all alone. The pace of change and the complexity of global challenges require leaders at every level of society. The democratisation of work in the digital age also means that the young can jump into leadership without serving years in an organisation.
What qualities, then, make for effective leaders in this new world of work? Here I focus on four that are interdependent, and increasingly important: inclusiveness; openness; self-knowledge; and inspiring communication. Continue reading
13 May 2018
Women are often given the message that, if only they were more assertive and confident, they would be able to grab those leadership roles more easily. But, as I explain in this column, new research shows that encouraging women to mimic alpha male behaviour is not the way to propel them into top jobs, and that organisations need to adopt a different approach.
18 March 2018
A century after the start of women’s suffrage in Britain, we still cannot take women’s hard-won rights for granted. I explain why, and what the implications are, in this column.
26 January 2018
What can we do to change how ‘power’ is perceived? The question is made even more urgent in the face of widespread accusations of abuse by men in positions of power – the latest being the repugnant antics revealed by the FT at the men-only Presidents Club charity dinner in London. These follow a spate of revelations about abusive behaviour from Hollywood to the Houses of Parliament.
Here’s my column on Seven ideas to change how power looks