Iris Bohnet’s What works: Gender equality by design is the book I was waiting for on the topic. Using a behavioral economics lens, Bohnet systematically compiles evidence from businesses, universities, and governments about what works and does not, and offers super practical steps to boost gender equality. The book first unpacks the unconscious biases we all suffer from. It then shows that changing mindsets is not the solution. $8 billion are spent yearly in diversity training in the US alone with no evidence of success. It also argues that going it alone is hard and risky. Bohnet’s central thesis is that de-biasing our environments by design is what yields the most impact. And she offers 36 research-grounded design suggestions to increase inclusivity in the workplace. They include: adopting a Gawande-inspired interview checklist, getting rid of self-evaluation in performance assessment, using people analytics to screen job applicants, having quota to appoint counter-typical leaders, using a point system to measure workload, using public rankings to motivate and compete on gender equality. A fundamental pre-requisite to these recommendations is the collection of staff data to understand where inequalities are and how they evolve. Despite its title, the book’s thesis and solutions apply to inequalities beyond gender. If you are committed to increasing diversity in the workplace, read this book and experiment with some proposals, or pass it on to someone in your office who is in a position to move the needle. I am doing just that.
Peter Fabricius’ “Peering into a murky crystal ball; where will Africa be in 2030?” shares the main findings of a recent Institute for Security Studies (ISS) seminar on Africa’s future. Under each of the three ISS-designed scenario (baseline, optimistic, pessimistic) Africa misses most SDGs by 2030. The main factors responsible for this outcome are poor governance and service delivery. Prospects drawn from the UK Ministry of Defense’s analysis of regional strategic trends to 2045 for Africa are more upbeat. Here extreme poverty is defeated by 2045 when Africa’s numbers catch up with the rest of the world. In this scenario, positive drivers of change are external to the region with a global economy increasingly reliant on African youth’s cheap labor. This illustrates how a foresight exercise can bring different perspectives. What matters is not to get it right but to unearth different possible futures so as to be ready no matter what.
Uber’s Movement is on my list of visual tool this week. It is new and shiny. It is launched in the midst of long-lasting (data sharing) disputes between Uber and regulators. And it could transform urban planning. But I also need to flag this graph from the WEF Global Risk Report plotting the 2017 global risk landscape because the top risks, once impact and likelihood are aggregated, are environmental. This report has been published for 12 years and this is a first.
My quote this week is from Facebook’s Fidji Simo in her “Introducing: the Facebook Journalism Project”: “We will work with third-party organizations on how to better understand and to promote news literacy both on and off our platform to help people in our community have the information they need to make decisions about which sources to trust.”