What makes you feel like flying?

What makes you feel like flying?

Our weekly pick of thought-provoking insights from some of the most innovative names in tech – right here in your inbox.

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This week we’re quoting…

Elnaz Sarraf (Founder and CEO at ROYBI Robot)

What Sarraf said:

“I am a person who gets excited even for small things in the business. Every little step towards our goals and mission makes me feel I want to fly.”

Celebrate the small stuff

We love this. For Sarraf, the road from coming up with an innovative product idea (an AI-powered robot to provide tailored education experiences to young children) to securing USD $4.2 million in seed funding was long, with lots of setbacks.

But celebrating the small stuff kept her going: she knew that even the smallest step forwards was a step in the right direction.

Not all products or businesses grow at breakneck speed. Many (most, actually) grow as a result of tenacity, commitment, and incremental steps.

The same goes for growth and change in general, doesn’t it? Even a revolution doesn’t happen overnight – it’s the result of thousands of small steps that build up to it, and create the conditions for the revolution to happen.

So, here are some small steps we’re celebrating in tech right now

In the spirit of acknowledging incremental change, here are some small steps-in-the-right-direction we think are worth celebrating in tech:

  • In the UK, about 28% of tech roles are filled by women and gender minorities, and 25% are filled by ethnic minorities – although it’s worth noting that ethnic minorities account for only 13% of senior and leadership positions (source: Tech Talent Charter)
  • Saudi Arabia has a higher percentage of women in tech startup roles than Europe – female participation in the tech sector was 28% in Q3 2021, compared with 17.5% in Europe (source: Endeavor Insight Fund)
  • In spite of increasing automation, the World Economic Forum predicts that the tech industry will create 50 million net new jobs in the next five years (source: WE Forum)
  • Tech companies are 13% more likely to set a net-zero target by 2030 than non-tech companies (source: Deloitte)
  • If brought to scale, existing digital tech could reduce global carbon emissions in the three highest-emitting sectors (energy, materials, and mobility) by 20% in 2050 (source: WE Forum)

Embrace the small wins that make you feel like flying

No: the pace of change isn’t fast enough. We can do better. But change is happening – and for those of us striving to make tech a more inclusive industry, acknowledging these small steps can remind us that our efforts do make a difference.

Read our interview with Elnaz Sarraf: An AI-powered robot for education and empowerment

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This week we’re also quoting…

Ghela Boskovich (Regional Director/Head of Europe at Financial Data and Technology Association)

What Boskovich said:

“Build companies with empathy at their core: empathy for both the employees and the customers. To be fair, empathy is at the core of every one of those rights and policies listed above. A compassionate human centric ethos is key to closing the gap and fostering diversity.”

Closing what gap?

Boskovich was talking about the lack of gender diversity in fintech – and how to change that.

Empathy hasn’t been a characteristic associated with conventional business. We all know the narrative – business is tough, it’s competitive, it’s dog-eat-dog. As Michael Corleone said in The Godfather: “It’s nothing personal, Sonny – it’s strictly business.”

But tech is an industry that’s evolving fast. And one of the benefits of changing quickly is that industry players don’t have to stick to outdated rules – there’s flexibility and freedom to create a new understanding of what a business should be, and how it should operate.

The benefits of empathy

So let’s do it. Let’s build compassion and empathy into the very fabric of tech businesses. As well as creating a culture in which diversity can exist (because people are encouraged to see things from others’ points of view, and accept that their way isn’t the only right way), compassion brings a number of well-researched benefits to businesses.

A Washington Post report on empathy in the workplace found that:

  • 77% of workers would be willing to work longer hours for a more empathetic employer
  • 60% would be willing to accept a lower salary at a more emphatic workplace
  • 92% of HR professionals said that a compassionate workplace is a key factor for employee retention
  • A huge 80% of millennials said they’d leave their current job if the workplace became less empathetic – and 66% of Boomers said the same

Empathy increases productivity, employee engagement, and loyalty. And all of that is really, really good for business.

But…what is an empathetic workplace?

Good question. An empathetic culture means that the people who work for you (and perhaps your customers as well) feel empowered to create authentic, meaningful connections with one another. They can be themselves and tell the truth about what they think and how they feel, and not have to live up to an unattainable image of professionalism or perfection.

An empathetic company lets its people be…people.

And according to the Center for Creative Leadership, the way to cultivate an empathetic work culture is to lead by example:

  • Be alert for signs of burnout in your colleagues, and when people are very stressed or finding it hard to keep a work/life balance, support them with their workload – or offer time off to recover.
  • Show that you’re genuinely invested in the wellbeing and goals of your employees and colleagues. Match them with projects that are fulfilling to them; invest in their professional development; and listen to how they’re doing.
  • Encourage open communication about personal problems that affect work capacity. Everyone’s a human being, and all of us have stuff going on in our lives outside of work. Leaders who show that they know that and see their team as people – not just profit-makers – can build more compassionate, engaged, and happy teams.
  • Don’t switch off when someone’s struggling. If a member of your team has gone through a traumatic life event or bereavement, acknowledge it. You can be both professional and compassionate; they’re not going to talk about it all the time when they come back to work, but it doesn’t feel good when no one mentions it at all.

Tech companies exist because people exist. So a compassionate company culture might just give you a competitive edge in product development, too – because your team will feel empowered to create products that serve the personal and emotional needs of your customers, as well as the practical ones.

Read our interview with Ghela Boskovich: Fintech as a force for evolution

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