P&G Signal 2020 was the most diverse edition in the nine-year history of the event. Over 35 speakers and 7,000 participants came from around the globe to join a 10-hour program over two days. It brought our world a little closer, both in distance and understanding.
Queen Latifah, together with filmmakers Ugonna Okpalaoka and Samantha Knowles, shared how difficult it is for new voices to be taken seriously in the entertainment industry. Through her personal story, Queen brought to life how she encountered and overcame systemic discrimination as a black woman in the male-dominated hip-hop industry. Using her success, she is taking personal action to make sure that the world behind the camera begins to look a little more like the one we live in.
Irma OIguin, founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries talked about her journey from California’s agricultural Central Valley to entrepreneurial success, which hinged on a simple bus ticket to the University of Toledo, where she had received a scholarship. This experience has driven her commitment to offer tech education and jobs to help women and people of color find a career path in the tech industry. Olguin highlights how race and gender discrimination are issues that prevent many talented people from becoming entrepreneurs, just because they grow up in a rural area.
Diversity in background and perspective is a source of inspiration and education. It doesn’t just help us grow personally, it also creates business opportunities. When we see beyond our neighborhood, the world becomes our home. Many of the Signal sessions brought this to life, and we’re diving deeper in this August issue of Signal360.
For this month’s issue, Signal360 asked the diversity and inclusion officers at several large companies what it takes to build a diverse workplace that grows business. While leadership support is a critical factor, the common thread in their advice is surprisingly simple: create a safe space for people to share their stories. Building diverse, authentic relationships that create empathy is a worthwhile investment that takes time. This is something all of us can do every day to appreciate diversity and inclusion.
An important step towards a more equitable and representative workplace is to go beyond learning and to act. We provide a list of things to learn and do as a starting point. Simple steps to better understand what drives the people we connect with every day goes a long way toward creating an environment where all of us feel that we belong. This is an essential ingredient to growing a business that intends to serve all people.
The world is broad and varied, along many dimensions. We hope you will find useful learning and inspiration in the diverse voices represented in the Signal360 August issue. Enjoy!
Stan Joosten & John Battelle
Editors-In-Chief, Signal360 / Co-founders, Signal P&G