Panel Talk: Industry Leaders discuss DE&I

Dubai Design Week 2023 saw its peak on the 10th of November. As the eventful day moved towards its conclusion, an intriguing talk at Swiss Corporation & Technology rekindled verve. Chris Barnes, Pallavi Dean and Saeed Bin Shabib delved into the nuances of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion. Here is the rundown….

The Swiss Corporation & Technology office at Dubai Design District underwent a spatial transformation to accommodate a DE&I panel between Chris Barnes, Pallavi Dean and Saeed Bin Shabib. From iconic Vitra products to more recent ones, the venue was neatly re-configured into a den apt for sharing pensive thoughts.

When the moment came, guests settled in to tune into the session moderated by the eloquent Oliver Baxter. The conversation that ensued thereon covered a plethora of domains. Let’s get a glimpse at the main takeaways…

Is Including Everyone, Everywhere Possible?

Inclusivity and diversity have been a pivotal topic of discussion in the past decade. In a region like the Middle East, where various nationalities cohabitate, making the residents feel included is incumbent. “The moment you speak in your native language to one peer when a colleague of foreign origin is present, you are excluding that individual from the conversation”, Pallavi expressed.

As a business owner, Chris shared how he never consciously thought about inclusion, yet his team boasts a cocktail of ethnicities. “Although, we should be more conscious”, he confesses. On the back of Chris’ comment, Pallavi points out how it is imperative to keep one’s biases in check as the spearhead of a business. It could be as simple as avoiding promoting a working mother because she can work only limited hours.

DE&I practises today might be something other than an instinct. But, the leaders of the business need to turn the tide to make it a norm.

Is Interior Design A Female-Dominated Field?

“90% of senior employees in the government are female”, Saeed reveals. Change must begin at the root level, and the UAE government strives to set an example. “It is time we define our hiring agendas”, he urges.

Pallavi, who began her firm as an all-women cohort, was in a unique position at the crossroads. “Overall, the construction industry only has 30% female leaders. With ROAR, I believe I am bridging that gap and creating new opportunities”, she avers. 

Here, it is essential to note that having insights on the macro level is as crucial as introspecting experiences on the micro level. Sometimes, a balancing act might be misjudged without context.

Would You Hire Robots?

‘The future is AI’: Most of us have probably been exposed to this statement exhaustively. However, a question arises: in a society still trying to grapple with correctly incorporating DE&I measures, are we ready to welcome a whole new species?

Human consciousness is an infallible must for deriving DE&I-centric spaces. With the pace we have embraced in adopting AI, we must also realise that emotions and an innate ability to connect are irreplaceable assets. 

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Date added:

22 December, 2023

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