And just like that, UNLEASH World 2023 has wrapped for the year – but what an event it’s been!
We’ve welcomed thousands of delegates through the doors of the Paris Convention Centre to explore and be curious about the insights of over 200 speakers.
We’ve had ground-breaking launches, revolutionary tech updates, and insightful discussions about some of the most pressing topics circulating in the HR and technology sector from world-leading executives.
But in case you were unable to attend today’s event, we’ve rounded up 6 of the Editorial Team’s favorite sessions to help you recap.
Daniel Thorniley on geopolitics in a post-globalization age
How can we prepare our HR Strategies for what’s to come?
It’s a question many – if not all – HR leaders have asked themselves at one point or another. And that’s exactly what Daniel Thorniley, President of FrontierView CEEMEA, addressed in his thought-provoking session – which was also full of humor!
By delving into how geopolitics will impact business and HR over the next decade, Thorniley shared new perspectives that will shape the future, as well as how to address the imminent threats currently facing businesses across the globe.
He also highlights how power dynamics have shifted within the workforce.
Between 2010 and 2020, employers held the reigns, but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused this dynamic to shift, with employees demanding – and receiving – much more, such as working-from-home benefits and flexible hours.
This power shift has caused the average working time to decrease by 3% – a seemingly small shift, but one that’s requiring an extra 3 million workers in Europe alone!
The future of AI, HR and data with Volker Hirsch
We need AI – there is such a vast amount of data in the world (and it is growing exponentially).
Humans can’t sort through, analyze and make sense of all of it – it is time to see machines not as scary, or a threat, but as a data node.
By doing that, and embracing what machines do better than humans, people can then focus on what matters, what adds value, and the human touch.
“We now have the opportunity to actually use AI and data to do the boring work for us,” states Hirsch.
There are lots of things that machines are bad at which are the things that make us human – like making things with love (whether that’s a tailor-made suit or a barista coffee), empathy, creativity or critical thought.
Machines are very good at logic, and looking backwards, but they can’t look forwards with imagination like we can.
Ultimately, it is highly unlikely humans will be “completely eradicated” by AI, instead it’s time for human-machine collaboration.
The timelines for AI and tech innovation are getting shorter and shorter, meaning progress is more rapid than ever.
Hirsch closed out his Day Two opening keynote by declaring today is the slowest of progress that we’ll see for the rest of our lifetimes!
The importance of reskilling with HSBC’s Mel Lee
Empowering employees to set them up for success is one of the top priorities for HSBC, and through her session, Mel Lee, Group Head of HR Strategy and Transformation at HSBC, discusses how the business is evolving to upskill workers to ensure they retain top talent.
“If you’re talking about reskilling your employee population, you need to make sure they actually want to be reskilled,” Lee says.
“They need to be excited about it, to take it really seriously, and to have access to the right tools, because otherwise, if not, the reskilling process won’t go anywhere.”
To achieve this, Lee hammers home the importance of laying the foundations of preparing employees, rather than rushing to share “new shiny processes too soon”. This way, both employees and employers will reap the benefits of reskilling.
“It’s not just about hiring new or better employees for the role,” Lee adds. “It’s vital to reskill the workers that are already within the company.”
DEI in the workplace, with Claire Thomas and Mike Bollinger
“DEI is not just for HR to solve – it’s an issue that needs to be on everyone’s radar,” is the key take home from today’s session with Claire Thomas, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Hitachi Vantara and Mike Bollinger, Global VP, Strategic Initiatives, Cornerstone OnDemand.
Throughout the session, Thomas discusses the importance of employee resource groups, to provide a safe space for individuals to turn to in the workplace.
Giving the example of menopause in the workplace – particularly important as today marks World Menopause Day – Thomas shared that Hitachi Vantara created a group to support those experiencing menopause.
This was implemented as employees asked for a confidential place to discuss their experiences, and for an ambassador to call upon when extra support or flexibility was needed.
“Over time, you can have a lot of conversations that can lead to changes,” Thomas says. “It takes time, but it can be done.
“I find it important to spread the message that inclusion is for everyone,” she says, “not just exclusively for women or underrepresented groups.”
“Afterall, who doesn’t want to come to work and to feel seen by their team and understood by their manager? Everyone should be able to have meaningful conversations and receive support for whatever issues they’re facing.”
Concluding her session, Thomas highlighted how technology has the potential of reducing – and even eliminating – bias implemented by humans.
Jobs for Humanity on inclusion
Roy Baladi, founder for Jobs for Humanity, kicked off his breakout by sharing that inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but it’s the sensible thing to do.
Baladi shares: “We cannot be inclusive unless we’re accessible” – the key aspect of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is access.
But how to do that?
The first thing to do is to build empathy – as HR leaders.
“You are the bouncers of corporations,” he says,
HR Leaders can be the one person to give someone a chance and change their whole life trajectory.
If you do it, in return, companies get the most resilient, loyal employees who will transform your organization for the better.
Listen up, if who want to win the war for talent, and beat out the competition.
Gary Bolles, Cultivating Organizational Community
Explaining that over the course of his life, he’s seen wave after wave of technological breakthroughs, Gary Bolles, Chair for the Future of Work, Singularity University, asks the critical question: “Before the pandemic, what was the role of HR?”
While answering this for the audience, he highlights how the workplace has evolved – from a career ladder to a jungle gym, to now a free-play area where younger generations call the shots.
“I wish I had a seat at the table” was one of the most common gripes among CHROs before the pandemic, he recalls.
Now, Bolles states that there are almost too many tables – too many problems that HR professionals need to tackle.
He then goes to on ask: “What are the real problems?”
He tells the audience, in his view, there are 8 main points:
- Decreased worker connection
- Increased worker mobility
- Increasingly distributed
- More non-traditional work roles
- Decreasing mental health
- Constant need for new skills
- Demand for diversity, equity, belonging and justice
- Demand for organizational purpose
To conclude his session – and UNLEASH World 2023 – Bolles shared a call to action to inspire energy and community:
“Go forth and connect,” is his clarion call.
“Events like this remind us of the importance of banding together.”
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