Digital Disruption, Diversity versus Inclusion, Machine Learning and the Modern Learner

The smorgasbord of what’s hot at The HR Innovation and Tech Fest New Zealand, day 1.

The HR Innovation and Tech Fest New Zealand is one of the not-to-be-missed events on the HR leader calendar.

We recognise that our workforce is a complex, perplexing and pivotal time, especially for our heads of HR. Expert collaboration will be paramount in successfully overcoming the array of the challenges presented, none of which we have experienced to this level of intensity before.

Kineo, a proud sponsor of this fast-growing key industry event actively joined the conversation around key workforce challenges.

Lucy Hickman, Kineo General Manager New Zealand, took part in the lively panel discussion on digital disruption and detailed how this has rapidly accelerated over recent years. Covered in this discussion, is how we as individuals constantly adapt to meet these needs.

Lucy poses the question;

Are we resisting change in the workplace and yet embracing it in our personal space?

On determining how best to engage workers, she asked, "If we automate compliance then what is the role of HR?" Lucy implied that the role should now be directed towards the individual and their internal engagement and experience. Do not be afraid to change, even small changes can help, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Expanding on this, Allyson Skene, Workday, spoke about bringing together customer and employee experience, referencing Google and Netflix models as examples. That’s what our employees want externally, so why aren’t we bringing that same experience internally?"

Anna Campbell of FAB Group pointedly stated to the audience of HR leaders to; "stop saying ‘just HR’ and think of yourselves as a business person that enables people to excel at what they do."

Lara Stewart, Solutions Consultant at Kineo, skilfully dissected the role of the modern learner, focusing on workforce trends and changes and what is driving this evolving landscape. She went on to challenge us on what this impact might mean in practical terms. Also, how we can continue to engage our diverse workplaces within an environment of technological advancements, globalisation and the cross generational population (of 17-70 years plus), whilst preparing for the unknowns.


Bill Boorman, Managing Director - Technology & Innovation, Recruiting Daily (UK) tackled Diversity and inclusion and the role HR plays in this picture. Bill is responsible for consulting in an advisory capacity and driving the expansion of Recruiting Daily communities across EMEA and APAC.

What comes first, Diversity or Inclusion?

In this immersion Bill tackles the challenge around how individuals feel threatened by difference, technology, change and security. He adds that experts are talking but not listening, asking…is HR creating a new problem?

As HR leaders we must ask ourselves;

How often do we create environments where people feel excluded rather than included?

Our diversity drive creates exclusion rather than inclusion. Do we highlight the differences or embrace our similarities?

“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Jo Lockwood, founder SEE Change Happen. Transgender Awareness and Inclusion Specialist

Bill stresses it’s crucial to be yourself and be judged on your performance, not age, gender, or orientation.

"Are you ready to get inclusive or are you too busy counting diversity?"

Other key takeaways from the speaker sessions are that machine learning enables companies to deliver 'no bias on steroids'. By this we mean machine bias, programming that assumes the prejudice of its creators or data.

Consider, that in designing the programs to match the selection process of companies, have we created an environment where we are not only creating bias in tech but also enhancing bias into programming?

As much as machine learning offers significant increases in convenience, often these benefits can be detrimental to others. Every business that builds technology is at risk of incorporating the prejudice of its creators.

Facial recognition is a well-known form of machine learning. Using facial recognition software, common on social media platforms like Facebook or with Google Photo, an algorithm can determine a face it has seen before in a photo by name, yet this has been well reported as unreliable. Similarly, when you surf the web across various social media platforms, you will see pop up advertisements. These ads are tailored to your specific interests and needs, determined by your web search history. Through using marketing automation, it is possible to track user interaction with the website and all activity therein. This data is captured and analysed with machine learning algorithms.

HR needs to work together and consult across the business to create opportunities for inclusive relationships.

Overall, HR should prioritise creating ongoing opportunity for employees to be successful in their environments. If we then review our talent and notice that there is an issue with diversity, we should consider whether the environment is creating opportunity for inclusion or exclusion.

HRDive on how teaching employees to find their purpose can lead to better engagement supports this view. Even though job seekers are looking for employers that support their values and personal goals, not all employees have identified their personal purpose. If they do have one, they may not have recognised that it can align with the work they do. The organisation and HR can help staff members find their purpose and channel it into staff satisfaction.