The first engagement to become a keynote speaker in 2017 came at the invitation of She Leads Africa (SLA) at their annual Cape Town edition of the SheHive meetup, and it was the opportunity to talk about being a woman in the space of technology and innovation and how to tap into being an intrapreneur in a multinational company. I accepted the invitation because of the crush that I have on SLA’S content and network, as well as because I was afraid as hell and wanted to take me on.
Innovation in Sustainability
Taking me on meant giving me another chance, a chance explained best by Marianne Williamson in her daily devotional entitled “365 Days of Miracles” when she says, “I have not always behaved in ways that have maximized my opportunities. But the fact that attracted them means that they were mine”. So I needed to give myself a chance in my fear, and find a way to communicate and learn through that.
I define innovation as a social process that enables new ideas and perspectives to serve customers and the larger ecosystem to win in dynamic markets and develop the growth of an entity or economy, and through its creativity, become sustainable. It is through this definition that contextualises the framework of the speaking engagements that I take on, this through also being a part of organisations like Thomson Reuters, One Young World, GirlHYPE and my personal brand that grants me an opportunity to be a part of dialogues and events that are of impact.
Diversity and Inclusion Mansplained in Industry
The retention of talent and its creativity of an entity is reliant on the sustainability of innovation of the company - it’s a talent attracting talent. The opportunity to be on panel discussions like the inaugural Standard Bank (JHB) and Facebook Africa (CPT) Women in Technology Conferences and being nominated for the Inspiring Fifty Women in Technology of South Africa 2017 allowed me some perspective on specifically, South Africa’s agenda for the woman in technology, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. In as much as we can lean in, there’s still the open secret of the profit of having men as allies in the movement of leaning in and inclusion, because the reality is that our male (industry) colleagues have not only social capital, but the superpower of mainsplaining it into existence and action. And don’t get me wrong, by no means is this a call to action to let us women lie low a little, it’s instead what I’m hoping to be as Oprah Winfrey says, an “AHA” moment to leverage on this capital and take more risks.
The Women in Technology Opportunity
I am a young, black woman in technology working for a multinational, and this is my experience and lived perspective on what the concept of Diversity and Inclusion means for and impacts me. It’s beyond gender and race, but systems put in place that need another social process (and policies) to develop the growth of the ecosystem that misrepresents them, to win FOR us (minorities) so we can win WITH them (capitalism). How can we all win? Through the Thomson Reuters Sustainability website, I shared some ideas on how to not only encourage young executives to become more acquintainted with SDGs but be more involved with innovation in the company.
After all, as author and entrepreneur Devon Franklin echoes, one must “ … be willing to negotiate from a level of compensation from a commitment that you are able to keep. Never allow your life to be less than your worth – NEGOTIATE AND ARTICULATE.”
I am so excited for the future of the woman in STEM in Africa because we’re in the great hands of GirlHYPE , Africa Teen Geeks , Taungana Africa , Mawazo Institute and more that I can’t possibly list all – but trust me, there’s great women and men who are ensuring that the girl child, be it in the village or urban areas are educated. And like I always mention, that Women, Diversity and Inclusion is not just a moral but a business issue, and going forward into 2018, I’m honoured to be serving as a non-executive board director for Non-Profit company, GirlHYPE, to develop the next pipeline of African women in STEM!
Front Image : Thriving Magazine