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Keynote Fireside Chat: Data and Inclusion with Sheila Warren.

❝Unconscious Bias is Universal❞.

❝We want my kids exposed to a different culture that isn’t inherently familiar to them.❞ ~ Sheila Warren


Gender Pay Gap

❝The gender pay gap stands at 16 percent globally❞ ~


Of Americans

❝Are monolingual, and speak a single language❞ ~ US Census Bureau

Americans have a bias towards other Americans.

❝I think that many people in a generation were raised with this notion of American exceptionalism.❞ ~ Sheila Warren

Keynote Fireside Chat: Data and Inclusion with Sheila Warren.


Sheila Warren Executive Committee & head of Blockchain Data and Digital Assets of the World Economic Forum talks about the persistence of Bias in organizations and argues that unless we consciously hire culturally diverse individuals as a part of the hiring process, tokenistic actions such as employing Chief Ethics Officers and setting up Ethics Boards to fix issues will not be effective in tackling the bias in hiring decisions. Join the talk to learn more about Bias, Inclusion, and hiring ethically diverse teams as well as the importance of Bilingualism in raising our next generation of Tech Ethicists.



00:00 Hey everyone welcome to our ethics on next-gen ai keynote fireside chat. Our guest is a member of the executive committee and head of blockchain data and digital assets at the world economic forum. She also leads the forum center for the fourth industrial revolution and she’s a licensed attorney in two states. Please welcome, sheila warren. 

00:33 Thanks, Shilpi thanks. So much for having me it’s great to be here.  Yeah, it’s a long time coming, sheila and sheila is also an advisor for data ethics for all, so I’m so excited to have you sheila. Oh me, too, thanks so much, Sheila.

00:48  So let’s get right into it. According to bo young lee, uber’s chief diversity, inclusion officer, diversity and inclusion needs to be something that every single employee at the company has a stake in, so how, according to you, can we use data and artificial intelligence-based technology to drive inclusion? 

01:11  It’s such a great question, and I want to kind of set some context here, part of the problem. I think that a lot of companies have when it comes to diversity. Data is a small numbers problem, and I think many of us are familiar with this. It’s the idea that the amount of data that you have on a particular demographic community is so small that it seems difficult to do any predictive, analytics, or any sort of real, in-depth analysis frankly to spot problems, let alone create solutions. So what happens? A lot of times is rather than looking at specific demographic groups. Um black women, LGBTQ people of color, you know whatever it might be.

01:54  Companies tend to aggregate that data into bigger groups. So they look at women as a category or they look at LGBTQ as a category. And what happens then is that you actually eliminate the ability to distinguish that certain groups are having a different experience than the company than others.

02:12  So part of what an algorithm can do is help you address some of this stuff is to say we don’t have to succumb to the small numbers problem or small numbers thinking, as I like to think about it, we don’t have to use that as an excuse To some extent, what I’ve seen in companies that I’ve worked on – and I won’t name specifics um – is that you might have gender parity, let’s say within a level. So let’s say you have a company with like you know, 10 levels or whatever so within level 2. You actually have pay equity when it comes to gender and you can run analytics on that and that’s very straightforward.

02:47 You can even go out and get certifications from external bodies. There’s a lot of companies that do this now. That will certify that you meet pay equity standards. However, what’s being missed is promotion opportunities, so maybe right the women in this example, hypothetical, are getting paid appropriately for the level, but really they ought to be at the next level and they’re not getting promoted right. They’re not getting mentored or included in that promotion path, which is not reflected in some of the more black and white analytical frameworks that are routinely applied, I think to company data.

03:20  So what you are trying to say is: if we use a better artificial intelligence system, then we can actually recognize a deeper level of patterns where you know, people who are there for a longer time, especially women and who are due for promotion, uh, but for whatever reason they have not they’ve been ignored or not promoted. Then we can start looking at those on a more granular level?

03:43 Exactly and you can transfer over time, because these certifications, for example, are there. Looking at a snapshot they’re looking at the time, that’s come in. Maybe they look historic, they have a look back at maybe maximum, let’s say a year, but over time, if you contract, you can actually transport.

03: 59 So if a certain sub-sub-demographic of people of individuals are leaving the company – and you know over time – you may not notice it, because it really looks like a 1-1-1 here and there right or they’re in different divisions, different offices, whatever it’s very, very it’s almost impossible for any human to spot that kind of pattern, but an ai algorithm could do that and could say hey over the last five years we’ve noticed that a lot of this particular sub-demographic are leaving, and particularly from your you know, Asian offices or from your North American offices, and that signal can provide the first indicator that there could be a problem.

04:36 I agree and this uh a lot of ai systems, now allow for continuous loop mechanism rather than once a year you know review process and evaluation process and, and it’s more of a 360-degree review so before the uh, unhappy or unengaged employee has to be a whistleblower or leaves the company, there are ways we could if we could recognize the patents and do something more to either engage them and sometimes it’s not even linear right. You can’t always say that if the person is is has been in the company for x number of years, then they have to be promoted.

05:11  Sometimes people perform better. It has to be performance-based not just on the number of times or duration that you are with the company.

05:19   I also think you can track things right to say who is their manager because a lot of times performance is linked to the team that you’re on you might thrive under one kind of manager and not another. Some of that can be cultural, it’s very, very hard to spot, and so it may be that you have a really really high performer who joins a new team and suddenly permits drops.

05:40  And if that happens all the time, if you notice that a certain kind of person – let’s say a woman, moves under a certain kind of person, maybe another woman for who knows and all of a sudden performance drops. You can spot that over time, whereas other people on that team might perform extremely well. They might actually thrive under such a person and it may be, their performance actually is enhanced under such a manager.

06:01  But another category may not do as well and you just that’s not something you’re going to pick up true, true, no way to and another question, because you brought women up and because we both are women and and and in this you know, empower. We want to empower more women and influence the work culture.

06:19  How pervasive do you think unconscious bias is and how does it impact women in the workplace? So I think it’s universal. I think that every single person, myself included you know, brings to bear a slate of experiences, a slate of expectations and assumptions that we are that are unconscious to us that we’re not aware of uh that that bias us. It’s just a fact, and I think what we see reflected in society and who is kind of uh, empowered uh it becomes the dominant modality.

06:49 So the reality is that leadership you know, particularly in tech companies is largely men, it’s largely white men uh and therefore there is an over-emphasis on their characteristics and traits and the biases that they hold um. It would look very different if we and that’s what I think we have to address. Most critically right because they’re, the people that are in these missions of power, but if it were to shift – and you were to suddenly have women of color ambitions of power, we would bring our own set of biases.

07:15  Those are just not the ones we need to be talking about as a society because they’re not relevant because that’s not the world that we live in right, but it’s not to say that that is not the case. So I try to be very conscious about it. You know for me, for example, um I think that Americans have a bias towards other Americans. I think that many people in a generation were raised with uh this notion of American exceptionalism.

07:38  It’s something that we’re not. We don’t talk about what we’re, not conscious of, but you see a lot of this replicated through hiring practices right. You just see it happen. Many Americans are much less culturally exposed than I’ve had the privilege to be I’m kind of you to know. A dual person like I grew up. I spent a lot of time in India. My parents are immigrants, my husband’s an immigrant, so I’m very exposed to that thing and I work at a very international organization.

07:59  That is a very unusual thing. It’s very unusual, so many Americans, you know, don’t necessarily work outside of the country as much. They haven’t been educated outside the country. So there is this bias that comes into play culturally. That, I think, is something that’s given less attention, but is quite pervasive as an example.

08:13  I agree with you 100%, because if you look at it like culturally uh and even languages that you know most Americans speak, they are like they speak a single language. They are not dual multilingual or even trilingual. Right, like I like others like, I can speak four languages right, so the more languages I think we can speak, read and write the more we are aware of and accepting of different cultures and ethnicities and backgrounds, and we work well with more with people yeah.

08:45   So I think that’s something we should address uh. I know schools, they do offer languages but um. What? What can we do to increase this exposure to culture and ethnicity? According to you.

08:58  Yeah, you know again, I feel lucky because my kids are growing up bicultural.  I did marry an immigrant, and so I do feel that this is uh. This is a huge benefit to my children. What I wore I got a language education in a school that I can speak Spanish.You know, but I wasn’t educated around the culture and it’s different. So I may have the ability, I think, that trains, your brain, there’s all the study about how you’re speaking multiple languages wires your brain differently. You can think more creatively, you know, that’s all! That’s all well and good cultural aspects and components right.

09:30  So I deeply value Indian culture. I deeply value in my particular case Mexican culture, a variety of reasons right. I live in a very uh Latinx neighborhood, it’s a very Mexican neighborhood. So I think there are things like that and honestly, it’s something that we talk about a lot. We live in a very diverse neighborhood on purpose, uh and we live in a next neighborhood that doesn’t reflect our cultural heritage on purpose, because we want my kids exposed to a different culture that isn’t inherently familiar to them and to understand what it feels like to Kind of be in an environment where you’re you’re, definitely not the dominant culture, you know kind of thing. I honestly think it has to start at the top.

10:08   I think we’re in a climate right now – and this is global. This is not just the united states, although I think we’re an exemplar of this kind of behavior um, where we are seeing this kind of you know, xenophobia. I just want to call it out for what it is. You know we’re seeing a tremendous backlash against immigrants. All over Europe uh we’re seeing this happen even in Australia, you know we’re seeing it certainly US from the administration, yeah and so part of what we’re fighting – and I hate to be a pessimist here – are cynical about this or depressing, but part of what we’re Fighting is a cultural tide that is kind of saying you know uh one experience is more valuable than another outsider yeah. 

10:47  So what I tell my friends, you know what I really push for in my child’s school is exposure to exposure exposure exposure. We watch programming in different languages that I don’t even understand. We watch a Chinese language cartoon. I have no idea, but we just watch it to kind of understand. You know what are the cultural nuances, yeah, exactly subtitles, which try to kind of understand?  It’s not just the language because they can well. One of my kids can read the other two are too little, but she can read the subtitles but she’s getting subtly cultural influence from the way that that cartoon is done. You know that I’m not.

11:20  I don’t even aware of it, but it’s getting its in viewing her consciousness, that’s sort of a pathetic way of using this sort of thing, but it’s better than you know it’s better than it we’re trying. Oh, we can do this.

11:31   I think it’s brilliant and, and if you look like historically that’s how like a child is born in any family, they don’t know they’re not born with any language or culture. It’s what the environment is, what their parents speak like. To that extent, even my dog right, I mean he’s bilingual like we talk to him and do it and he understands so yeah like you know whatever they are brought up and trained and taught uh, and they listen to a lot to your point like if Children are exposed to languages. Even if we don’t speak them, we don’t understand them, they will pick them up yeah.

12:07  So the other thing. I think that really helps a lot and I didn’t grow up with this kind of access is books, so children’s books. Now, there’s a tremendous amount of diverse children’s literature, and so our bookshelves are just peppered with different colors different experiences different. You know, clothing, different traditions, all of this and there’s a tremendous amount of resource around there I mean it’s just it’s.

12:30  The quickest google for birthday presents I’m like that auntie, you know who brings all of these diverse books and I’m like these are always our presents, but they’re, not just Indian. You know there are all kinds of different cultures that we found compelling because the stories are universal, the things that children struggle with around the world are largely universal.

12:47  But just having that background, where you know what they’re walking through is just a different landscape, it’s a different form of housing. It’s a different attire! All of that, I think, has a very profound impact on a child in just normalizing that there are many many different ways to walk through the world, and my hope is that if more people do that uh that we will then have a world in Which that kind of difference is celebrated, not others, but we have a long way to go. That is very true and uh.

13:18  You talked about Mexican culture and Asian culture, and I know both of those cultures uh because I’m Asian – and I understand that because we value the large family concept and we value being together as opposed to like these solo families right which America, American culture uh promotes or celebrates like we celebrate the group culture of families and bringing people together, and all of that so just that itself is such a different mindset like when we were in India.  We would hear that in America, when you are as soon as you’re, 16, 17 18, whatever that may be, when you’re adult parents say that okay, now you’re on your own, you have to earn your own thing and you have to move out of the house. 

14:03  Like if you live in the house with your parents as an adult, that’s considered to be like you’re, not successful, and, and you know so – it’s like a completely different way of thinking, whereas in our culture, it’s like you, you stay with your parents for as long as possible, you basically first they take care of you, and then you start taking care of them.Yes, so it’s very different!

14:25  So if we had to create a framework to measure inclusion in the workplace, what would that look like? This? Is the I think you know the 10 million dollar question and I think we’ve seen certainly in light of recent events in the US,  we’ve seen new approaches coming here. So, first of all, I just want to talk about the transition from uh diversity as a concept to this kind of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. I love that frame. I think that it really is far more about diversity and I wrote a piece for wired where I said diversity is not, it’s not a numbers game, you could put people in the door and that’s solving one problem. That’s solving an optical problem. It’s not solving a cognitive diversity problem, it’s not solving an inclusion problem and it certainly is not solving a retention problem. 

15:15 If you’re, not keeping people, then who can what are you doing? You know it’s almost setting them up for failure. So how do we set people up for success when they’re entering environments? That, let’s be honest, the reason you’re paying attention to this as a company? Because you’re not doing a good job right at it, so you’re worried about it, so you’re de facto bringing people into an environment where they are not They are going to be othered by default, uh, and so you have to provide. I think a lot of training uh, you have to think about mentoring models and you have to think about. How are you accommodating some of that cultural difference, uh or even if it’s not culture, whatever the difference might be part of what  I found? Um positive about this pandemic time and there’s a lot of negative, obviously part of, what’s positive, it’s just the ability we have to have a window into people’s home lives yeah.

16:02  So you know so my children, I might be my kids exactly you know my treat. You know people my kids are running in and out all the time of different conversations.

You know I’ve kind of gotten to understand in a more intimate way. Some of the challenges that people on my team face my peers and other colleagues face, and I’ve tried to be a very honest, uh interpreter of some of that, like really trying to call out the challenges of being a working parent during this time. You know some of those things um and I think that we need more people in positions of leadership. Obviously, we need models.

16:32  We need role models of working mothers of women of color LGBTQ, whatever it might be, neurodiverse people we need all these different uh different labels. People models, you know at senior levels, it’s not enough to kind of start the pipeline at the junior level and brings people up. You really have to kind of bring people in at the top.

16:49 Now what happens a lot of times – and we know this through the data – is that you create a chief diversity and inclusion officer, and that person is a woman of color like every time right. They are the one executive team, member who’s, a person of color, let alone a woman of color there, often the only woman, and then they’re tasked with this impossible herculean task of changing the demographic of the entire company. It’s ridiculous! It basically can’t be done.

17:12  That’s not the answer. It’s about really saying it’s important to have talent that is in the business line right also in the business line and is an integral part of the company and the company’s success supercritical, right. So how do you find these people? Do you look? You know there’s this um funny I’ll tell the story, but there’s this really funny um.

I have a good friend and so uh he hired. You know this. He has a very diverse team that his company has the most diverse team in his company and to him.

17:43 He just built a team, he came in a senior person, he built a team, it was like not a big thing. You just built a team and the people that he, the best candidates, were. You know a lot of very, very diverse team and the leadership came to him and said you now need to train everyone on how to build a diverse team.

17:55  He was like what are you talking about you just okay, so we were talking about this and I said I kind of laughingly said I think you should just have three slides and the first slide has the word just.

18:06  The second slide has the word higher, and the third slide has the word them, and you just flip through that and say here is the answer right like on some level. You just hire them like it and I don’t mean to be simplistic, but there are all these barriers created to this process when, at the end of the day, it’s about prioritization and saying we understand that our company is not going to succeed, If we are not reflecting the demographic diversity of our customer base and of the world around us 

18:35  True and these days there’s a lot of talk of, you know: diversity and inclusion and corporate America, like not America but globally but then it’s like just like you, said right: it’s like this chief ex. It’s like this check box, where the top chief diversity, inclusion officer is a woman or a woman of color, and I they feel like Okay, we have done our part. It’s a check box, and now we have done our part towards making the right step or looking from the outside It looks like we are doing the right thing for diversity and inclusion and that’s where it ends, or they are tasked with this phenomenal task of now changing the entire shifting the entire culture of the company and making it more diverse, all overnight right.

19:19  How can that happen if you’re not hiring the right people from all levels and expertise?

19:26  exactly you know the other thing that happens a lot is, I think, people use other offices, so they’ll say: oh okay, so my office in San Francisco is this demographic. Okay.

But now I’m gonna open up an office in Europe and hire only Europeans. You know you know what I mean so then you have an office dynamic that is very culturally appropriate to that office, but then you’re not connected. There’s always this distinction and the HQ culture.

19:51  The dominant kind of culture becomes a really interesting challenge for anyone. Those other offices to kind of engage with, and then right so so it’s! It helps in a sense because you’re saying, oh okay, so in this country in Europe, we’re going to be hiring a team that understands the local consumer base. You know whatever it might be, but we’re still othering that now we’re othering the entire office.

20:13  You know what I mean, and that happens a lot too, and I say this kind of funny because I work for a company headquartered in Geneva and we’ve had this interesting thing: that’s happened as we open the SF office. Sf is its own trip right. We have our own like very hos, startup, hustle and entrepreneur, and all of that in geneva is very you know it’s very European. It’s very buttoned up and it’s been so exciting to explore the dynamic and see how we can be symbiotic with each other.

20:37  But it’s funny to think about how many people uh, how the reverse could also work, and the fact we don’t think about that, All that often.

20:45  yeah, I agree with you on that. So what, according to you, is the best way to wield empathy and data to build an inclusive team? 

20:55 Well, I think empathy is a core value, and so it definitely one of our values, and our SF office as we call it people first. So it’s we and we actually have weekly on our all-hands meeting. We actually do like a shout-out where we say okay for this value like who has who’s embodied this particular value.  We have other values as well, but who’s embodied people first, as a value. You know this week and so people get celebrated for some of the emotional labor that goes into managing a team or being a good peer. You know uh, that is not acknowledged and we make a point of basically rewarding people in a way, not literally rewarding them, but kind of celebrating uh empathy and just compassion for people and during this pandemic time. I think that’s taken the form of you know People just checking in on each other or uh or entertaining someone’s child by reading them a story while someone else was on a really critical call or we’ve had team members step up in this way, and we just think it’s important to acknowledge some of those creative Connections that people are forming you know, and not just with their friends with people like that just needed a hand, so um. 

21:51 So that’s a way. I think you can kind of really uh celebrate empathy and not just kind of say. Okay, everyone is empathetic, and you know here are some like things you can say you know. Okay, it was a hilarious article that had like this. It was like a collection of things that had come out from leadership about things you can say to be empathetic and I’m like that’s actually to appear empathetic like that’s not being those are very different things right, like better than nothing, but really not great. 

22:13  So so how do we? How do we kind of celebrate that in our culture, but then when it comes to data you know I do think um someone put in the chat here? You know. I do think that retention is a good proxy for inclusion. You know like if you’re sticking around, particularly if you’re a high performer, if you’re, choosing to stay around, there’s something about That’s working so I think, before people walk out the door and doing an exit interview, it’s about checking in with your heart forms and saying you know what is it that is making you happy at this job?  

22:39  We don’t do that. We don’t ask that question in part because we don’t want to suddenly indicate like. Oh, you know, but it’s about kind of incorporating those people at every level into the culture and saying we want to do better. We want to replicate the experience that you’re. Having is it your manager? Is it your responsibility? Is it the opportunity you perceive? Is it your work-life balance like what are the things that that keep you feeling rewarded here um, you know beyond compensation, which in many cases is not you know, necessarily the thing?  That’s keeping people in place and understanding that and seeing if there’s a way to replicate that or to train, you know manage whatever it might be, the more of the company to embody those characteristics.

23:15  You bring up a very good point and mostly uh, how we operate is we focus on the uh negatives right so when somebody is leaving or when somebody is not happy, that’s the time like you said about the exit interview, that’s the time when we try to start digging into the whys and the hows and they’re Gone they’re out the door, it’s too late and people are happy. We just take that performance for granted and we’re, like oh he’s, doing a good job, she’s doing a good job. Let’s give them more work to do you know exactly it’s the price of success. You know one thing: they tell you as a parent is you know you, you emphasize good behavior?

23:49 Yes, your options are you can try to punish bad behavior, it doesn’t work if you emphasize and reward good behavior. So we’re not good at that. You know we do it maybe through bonuses, but then we make it so transactional. You know and what we don’t do is go out to speed these people and say tell us like you’re happy. How can we make that experience happen for other people? 

24:08  We want to we’re not going to burden you with that responsibility, right, we’re not going to say take on the emotional labor of mentoring, 10 people we’re going to say what is it right about your experience that is valuable to you and frankly, sometimes that conversational? I do it with my team that conversation, sometimes you know, can trigger things, they can say. Well, I’m happy now, but I can see you know that six months from now it’s not gonna I’m gonna need. You know more challenge or more whatever right and you can get ahead of it. 

24:34 You can get ahead of anything that might cause one of your very high performers to become to chafe. At you know, the level that they’re at or whatever it might be, or just even checking in about their career aspirations and how you as a manager, help them grow towards that. Even if that means that eventually they leave the nest and go out in the world, you know to become a contributor from the outside.

24:53 True and yeah, I mean it’s like the secret recipe right. We all want to be the ultimate goal of life. What is that? The ultimate goal of life is to be happy right. We are all doing everything that we are doing every day is to be happy, and so, if we feel, if we know happy people, we want to go up to them and say hey, you know. How are you so calm give us the secret recipe, so we asked our happy employees successful and engaged employees this before they, You know they decided to leave the company, so I think that’s a brilliant strategy and one that we must all follow.

25:28 You know what’s interesting that I hadn’t even thought about until right now is. We should actually be collecting data on that. Yes, happy employees right like where are we seeing some star performers, and what are the characteristics of star forms within our company? So we understand here are the characteristics that really ensure or – or you know, lead a pet to a path of success at our company and what does that reflect about our culture and that data, I think, can be very helpful to us for being honest, because not every company is a fit for every person, and that’s not. 


25:56 It should not be that we have to bend ourselves or contort to fit every model, but we do need to be very honest and when it comes to hiring, if we can say you know, we can say where we, where I in my office. These are our core values like we value these things, and so this is an office that values these things, and I ask people is that a fit for you like tell me: what is your reaction to hearing our core values like? What is yours? Is it that you’re kind of nervous or you’re, like oh yeah, that really works for me? How do you feel about that and people can kind of get a sense of what they’re walking into which I think is really really uh important yeah? 

26:27  I have so many more questions. She’ll. I think our time is short. This is awesome, but we do have some questions from our attendees, so I would like to take some of them. One is retention, which can be a good proxy for inclusion or work satisfaction, and you agree with that right. I do yes yeah and then how your team should have asked.

The first question was from Vivek and the second is. It was more of a comment from Vivek and then Sudha is asking how your team practices empathy is so remarkable, yeah she’s coming here. Empathy is a leading indicator of a diverse environment.

Do you think we should collect data on how empathetic office environments are? 

27:09 That is really interesting, and I wonder what you would how you would assess that it would be a subjective indicator where you would. Basically, maybe you could actually say you know, that’s very interesting, very interesting. I think that you’re right, it is a leading indicator to a diverse environment, an environment that celebrates distinction rather than others. You know people who are maybe a minority of a demographic in a particular work environment.

27:32 Um. You could ask things like you know, uh, how many times over the past month has a colleague reached out to you. You know personally uh, you could ask things like uh, you know um what are indicators of how many of the following indicators of support. Have you witnessed in your in the last quarter and you could kind of have different your manager checked in about your career aspirations? You uh, had a social event with peers. You would have done that. You know others, and you can kind of have people kind of fill it in um. I think that that could be it could be quite powerful.

28:03  I think that what would be interesting would be to say uh, you know this is going to vary manager, manager, and style by style, and so I think what I would not want to see is some sort of monolithic mechanism for demonstrating empathy.

28:16 You know, I think that there are different ways of being an empathetic person, uh that is going to be comfortable for a particular person. But I think that the notion of being empathetic and having that as a core value is critically important and the ways that manifest might vary.

28:30 And I definitely think that training on how to show an appropriate level of empathy in the workplace is something that I think is really important because I think people sometimes worry about asking too many personal questions and is that going to be awkward is that an hr violation, you know, is it going to get me in trouble? Is it you know that kind of thing um, so some training on that I think, would be very helpful as a general matter, and that could be data that could lead to.I think some of the data collection and that could be uh unique to every company right how much of that allowance into the personal lives.

29:04 What do you think about that yeah? I mean, I think, that you know I am a person who I mean you can probably tell I you know I bring I’m just myself kind of whatever environment I’m in it doesn’t really change, and – and some of that is that I feel that You know I’m in the position of privilege right, so I can do that. I can be. You know me at work and I try to make it very clear when I that people know what they’re getting like, I’m a very candid person and that’s just who I am right.

29:27 So I think that, but again I think at earlier points in my career. I was always that way, but it was not something that went over as well to be very clear. You know, so I think that in my mind I think being that way gets people more comfortable opening up to you. If you show vulnerability, people feel comfortably vulnerable. You know and that’s something I think I try to embody, but not everyone feels comfortable being vulnerable and I don’t think that should be.  I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I think that it’s a personality thing people are, you know very private and that’s their entitlement to be that way. So I think we have to again meet people to some extent where they are and say there are different ways of showing vulnerability.

30:07  You know, I heard a story, I love about a CEO who took a call and it, you know it didn’t, go so well and there’s a lot of tension happening and his CMO had to come and basically unwind a tangled relationship and kind of save it, and He sat down on a call with the entire team and said: what could I have done differently there? 

30:23 You know I didn’t handle that so well like how could I that’s vulnerability? It’s not personal, it’s not about, like my kids or my spouse or whatever, but it’s saying like i. I know that I didn’t make a mistake and it’s not just owning the mistake, but I think is a critical hallmark of a good leader. It’s saying you all have insight that I need that can help me do better.

30:45 So how can you help me – and that is a very vulnerable position for someone like a CEO to take, and I think it opens up a conversation on how that vulnerability can translate in a very it’s still a very professional environment. You know absolutely yeah.

30:59 We have another audience question from Torian and he says I had a frank conversation with the fortune 10 company’s director of leadership recruiting. They said that the information is there and even represented, but sometimes not acted up in a meaningful way. How can data scientists and corporate consultants better showcase this information to persuade those leaders to make the necessary changes? 

31:20 Yeah, it’s so much of this is really company politics right. So you can, I see I see a lot of companies that go out and get these you know, certifications, but the way they’re structured again. It doesn’t reveal the true patterns that are being formed, and we know that we can get this data.That’s not the issue, we know we can get the data, we know how to deal with the small numbers problems.

We know how to do this and there isn’t a desire or pull request. 

If you will from leadership and even if there is then the data kind of gets, you know put into a warehouse and it’s locked away and there’s no action or worse, the data is published and there’s still no action, because you know what I mean it’s like. 

If we all know there’s a problem, we’re not going to be like whatever you know, that’s bad! You know you’re asking a really tough question because it’s so specific to every leader and every company. 

32:04 I think that I think that silicon valley and I’ll speak to the values. That’s where I’ve been for the past 15 years. You know, I think, that the valley uh it’s this whole move fast and break things thing you know like why do CEOs go and hire theirs? You know the business, school classmates or their college classmates or their. You know roommates girlfriend or why right it’s because they want to have that mind-meld where they can kind of reach each other’s minds and move very, very, very quickly. But I understand that impulse I mean you are accountable to show product quickly to get a POC out there and a pilot. Your VC is reading down your neck. 

32:41 You know this kind of thing right, it’s, but it’s deeply hugely problematic and so part of what this is opening up those networks and saying you know it, it produces on the part of funders to get a whole different conversation to say you know it’s Not okay, because over the long term, yes, you may be able to move quickly but you’re, building for a very narrow demographic that looks like you and that’s just what’s going to happen because your unconscious bias is going to come being an inclusive leader in time Of crisis, or a time of stress, is one of the hardest things for anyone to do.

33:13  It is so hard to do because your tendency is to go to what you know and to move fast and to make decisions without complete data, because you feel, like you, have to move and you’re just you feel like you’re. This is happening. I’ve seen this happening. All over the world in this pandemic, people are freaking out they’re, just feeling like it and so taking a moment to pause and really think about uh. What would an inclusive response to this situation? Look like is hard.

 33:35 It’s hard to step out of the immediate fight-or-flight adrenaline and do that but easier if you have a diverse leadership team, so I’m not really answering the question because it is, it is an ongoing issue. How do you convince a leader that is not inclined to see it? This way that this stuff is important? I think it has to come from pressure from the external environment.

33:54 I think you’re not going to convince that leader with data from their own company. Honestly, I think it has to almost feel like there’s a shaming, because all their peers are doing it and, if they’re the one not doing it, it looks really really bad, and over time you have to embed the practice.

 34:07 Whether or not they embrace it is. Is less important honestly, I mean that’s what you ideally would want, but you can’t always change the mindset, it’s more important that it’s done cynical answer, but you know, unfortunately, that’s what I believe yeah. 

34:21  No, that’s true, so I think we know we are out of time sheila. This has been a fascinating, fascinating conversation. Yeah meets you for me too. I want to leave with this final quote and I’m sure you’ll agree.

34:35 A slightly modified code from Andres Tapia senior client partner at the conference. Diversity is the mix, inclusion is making the mix work and my addition is, and data is a magic ingredient in making that happen.

34:49 100% agree and she’ll be I’m just thank you so much for having me, I’m so thrilled about this next four days. Congratulations and thank you to everyone, and I know there were many conversations, many things in the chat, so I look forward to you now chatting on Twitter about this going forward, but thank you so much. Thank you.

Sheila take care, bye, bye!


Sheila Warren

Executive Committee & Head of Blockchain Data and Digital Assets, World Economic Forum



Shilpi Agarwal

DataEthics4All Founder & CEO, Social Impact Leader, CEO of Social Strategi LLC, Member of Data Ethics Advisory Council