Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Humanity 2.0 Business Leaders in Ethics Panel was delivered by James Ledbetter, Tae Yoo, Louise Koch, Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, Tim Nixon, Simon Henzell-Thomas, David Dempsey, and Jean Oelwang at Humanity 2.0 (Vatican City)
- 44% of executives believe AI’s most important benefit is providing data to make decisions
- Cisco had a 45% reduction in GHG worldwide since 2007
- More than 2/3 of Ikea cottons comes from sustainable sources
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: James Ledbetter, Former Editor in Chief at Inc. Magazine, Tae Yoo, SVP Corporate Affairs & CSR at Cisco Systems, Louise Koch, Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa for Dell, Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, President EMEA Partnerships at Google, Tim Nixon, CCO & Global Head of Partnership and Policy at Constellation Research, Simon Henzell-Thomas, Global Head of Public Affairs for IKEA Group, David Dempsey, SVP at Salesforce, and Jean Oelwang, President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner at Virgin
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 00:00
As you can see, we have a tiny, tiny panel here. Only seven people. So I’m going to very quickly introduce them from your left to your right, and then I will ask each of them to talk a little bit very quickly about what they do in the area of ethics. So starting here, we have Tae Yoo senior vice president corporate affairs and corporate social responsibility for Cisco systems. Then Louise Koch head of sustainability for Europe with Gail technologies. Say it again. Dell technologies. Oh, I’ve heard of them. Sorry, I didn’t have a chance to meet Louise before just now. Tim Nixon has a new job. You’ll see him in the, in the material affiliated with Thomson Reuters, but he is now working with a company called Constellation and we’ll hear a little bit more about them. Then we have, Carlos D’Asaro Biondo president of EMEA partnerships for Google. Simon Henzell-Thomas, the global head of public affairs for Ikea. David Dempsey, senior vice president of Salesforce. And finally, Jean Oelwang president and trustee of Virgin Unite B team, senior partner at Virgin. Okay. Tae, tell us what are the one or two issues around ethical thinking that you focus most on at Cisco?
Tae Yoo – SVP Corporate Affairs & CSR, Cisco Systems: 01:23
So ethical thinking is you know, there’s multiple things that you do, so you have a corporate window and lens of how you comport yourself operationally. There’s also the ethics of the impact that you have. And that’s usually what we focus on. I’ve been with Cisco almost 30 years since we were a very small company. And the prevailing comment was unprecedented value that you provide as a company to your customers and your shareholders and your partners. What used to haunt me is what about everybody else? And when you think about the impact that technology is having, it’s unprecedented and it’s wonderful in terms of the opportunity around healthcare, better live solving problems and all of that. But we also have to look at the other end of it is this gap that is emerging. And I think people referred to it earlier today about those who could actually benefit even more. In terms of having access to the things that you provide to those who can afford it. So our big thing is social impact and it includes environmental sustainability as well.
Louise Koch – Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa, Dell: 02:33
Thank you. So in Dell technologies, we started with a big picture. Our purpose is to create technologies that drive human progress. So they go with the common good. Obviously how you do that impact is the big question. But that has been the driving force since Michael Dell started the company more than 35 years ago and he’s still happens to be the CEO and chairman. So, so well done for that. Our corporate sustainability CSR programs are also in a social impact umbrella. So that’s really our commitment also as a company to drive social impact both in terms of advancing sustainability across the life cycle of our products. Also in our supply chain, obviously sustainability for people and planet, it’s a driving diversity and inclusion, really nurturing that culture of diversity inclusion where everybody can come to work and be the best in the full version of themselves. And it is also using technology to transform lives of people, especially in education and healthcare. And then we also have our ethics and compliance team really looking to nurture that culture of ethics and integrity within Dell technologies. So how we win, which is the title of our code of conduct. And the last but not these kinds of the growing, emerging field of we see ourselves as one of the leaders of the digital transformation. So what are the new ethical questions and dilemmas that arise out of the new digital solutions or the fourth industrial solutions? So, that is a growing area and happy to see that. That’s also of course on the agenda here today.
Tim Nixon – CCO & Global Head of Partnership and Policy, Constellation Research: 04:10
Before just talking a bit about that, I just want to say something about the walk to work this morning, which was the most extraordinary walk to work I’ve ever had it. And I just want to express my gratitude. When you come through St. Peter’s square seeing the monumental beauty that after all is a human creation. And it’s a Testament to what we’re capable of and I think will be relevant to this discussion. What we do at Constellation is we work closely and have for some time with Reuters to help determine where there is leadership in a business, mostly very large carbon intensive business models. And I think it’s actually particularly relevant for this inflection point here because what we find in our research, and you know what we’ve been sending over to Reuters is a rather unsettling finding actually. And that is that first of all, there actually are about 250 or 300 or so CEOs that have enormous power over our collective destiny on climate change. They and their companies are responsible for one third of annual anthropogenic emissions. So we took a look at, you know, what, what can we tell about what’s happening in these businesses? And the research which was just published on Reuters.com it’s been hit like 100,000 times, downloaded a 100,000, 12 million hits is that unfortunately only about a fifth one, fifth of these companies are showing evidence of a readiness to decarbonize. 1 in 5 CEOs. So to me that means there’s an incredible opportunity for engagement and for making the business case for decarbonization. And that at the end of the day I think is what’s going to get the ball rolling downhill is the, you know, the opportunity in your business model. And that’s what we mostly focus on.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 05:58
Hi, I would need two days to answer you given I work for Google, I have lots of issues now. I think the first issue is this one is when you are a global company, given the diversity in the world, you can’t make everybody happy. We try to define a series of values that guide our action. But those values cannot make everybody happy around the world. We will have to be not compliant to certain things in central area of the world. If we want to respect our values. And this is the first problem and first contradiction that the global company needs to leave today. The second thing I would say is a company like Google started to be oriented to users. So our first point was actually towards, at the beginning, probably the only one that really mattered to trust of the consumer. Don’t do to consumer things that could, you know, and an example of that is the freedom of people to use our products without giving us any data. You can use Google by being logged in and we are responsible for your data or just anonymously and you’d still get a certain level of service.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 07:10
The third point is inclusiveness. And I must say we have not been good enough at that, but the choice was an ease. We want to bring this access to information and the ability to connect around the world with information to everyone. And that’s an important one. The last element is we also now are in B2B and we’ve been a very disruptive company. Some of the products we’ve created made marketing a variable cost, cloud computing, make information systems, variable cost. If you think about it, those are pretty disruptive things that change the overall logics of the economy of which, and also regulation and all the stuff. So the issue is when you are so disruptive, you’re always annoy some people as well. There is no choice. And to me the only way to look at this sustainability of what you propose and they learned they taught me something at Google.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 08:08
I want to just share with you, which is, it was the first business plan I arrived with. I used to do, you know, revenue than costs, than profit and say this is the way we look at it. And they told me no, because this is not sustainable. You have to look at problem. You sold out importance of the problem. You sought out somehow for human beings as a consequence, look at what you can and cannot do. Can we achieve what’s needed to sort out this problem? And then the revenue comes as the result of the equation. I’m just sharing that because it changed the way I’m looking at this and I think it has some importance. Let me tell you also something before I pass you the word. Sorry. I’ve been a bit long, but I have to say it. I’m sick and tired of this definition where they compare everybody to everybody, and people feel that are rigorous by saying the has say that there is no GAFA. There are different companies with different ethics, different values, different business models. If we really want to look at technology with some integrity, these users, the integrity to accuse us of what we do and not what the entire world does.
Simon Henzell-Thomas – Global Head of Public Affairs, IKEA Group: 09:13
Great. Thank you. I want to just to start by saying why is a public affairs guy sitting on the stage talking about sustainability? And I guess my background and why I worked for a business, I used to work for NGOs. And the reason I stepped into the business world first for L’Oreal and now for Ikea was because I really believe that if we do this right, the impact could be quite phenomenal if the business community can really do this properly. And that’s why I thought the discussion this morning was interesting. I think maybe just quickly one of the things that we are looking at is from an impact perspective, we have around 750 million customers come into our stores every year. And I guess some of you might be in that number. So one of the things we’re tasking ourselves with is could we inspire and enable 750 million people to live more sustainably at home? And for us that we think could be quite incredible impact. And I think this thing about moving from contribution to impact is probably the biggest thing. I think we as, as the business community should really focus on to stop incremental, which I think was discussed this morning as well.
David Dempsey – SVP, Salesforce: 10:20
Yeah. I think that when I come to Salesforce almost 20 years ago now, at that stage, our vision was to democratize the software industry because now cloud computing is the norm and it’s how pretty much most businesses are on in the early stages. It wasn’t so software and access to world class software wasn’t very democratic. And I think that Salesforce has managed to do that. But I think that in that democratization, I think no, we need to look the next stages for us are the empowerment and to bring everybody in and let everybody share in that. And I think that one of the big challenges for us, if you look at, you know, the Salesforce ecosystem is estimated to bring around 3 million jobs into society over the next five or six years. But how do we make sure that we’re inclusive, that we bring society and to share those?
David Dempsey – SVP, Salesforce: 11:07
Because if you look, the people who apply to us, most of them will turn up our graduates, they’ll turn up, they’ll already have five job offers from Accenture, from McKinsey, for move ever. So how do we move beyond that and bring the rest of society into it? So that’s one of the challenges for us that sits in this Epic space, this, this being, this inclusiveness in the society. And then I think we have a voice as well. And I think there’s a challenge on us and an on us on us to use our power of amplification to really drill on the messages like our climate issue, you know, because the fact is there’s not going to go away. We have a very, very short window. And I think that one of the challenges for us then is how do we use our voice in an ethical way to drive forward those big agendas? And then of course there’s the other issue which is turning up more and more, particularly as the workforce changes. I think this is going to be a way bigger issue when Gen Z’s come into the workforce. But the ethical use of software. So who do we make the power of our software available to? You know, I might like it. I might not like a sugar company because I’m too fat and I might think we shouldn’t ethically we shouldn’t sell to that company. Somebody else might have a different idea. But I think that they’re the sort of questions that now come into play around the ethical use of software as well because we have an amplification voice here and do we make it available to everybody and how do we limit that or should we limit it?
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 12:32
Thank you very much again for having me here. And I just wanted to say a very quick story that for me, it makes me realize how important this gathering is. I was literally just at a business school in the US a couple days ago and I asked the question, how many of you have worked for a company that has joy and humanity at the core? And out of 88 students, two people raised their hands. And then later on in the conversation a young woman asked me, can you really be empathetic and be a good leader? So this stuff is so important right now. And I think from a Virgin perspective, I guess we would classify it as focusing on urgent patients. So doing the stuff that we can do immediately but never forgetting about that systems change. And I think we do that kind of in three levels.
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 13:21
And the first one I think is probably a really fundamental and basic, but we feel is most important, which is our people and one of our people, directors put it so beautifully when they said, we have a million moments every single day when we interact with each other to either win or lose our culture and build that moral fabric in our companies. So kind of as a basis is how do you bring that humanity into the companies? And we started a little network called 100% Human at Work, round about 300 companies. So we can share and learn from those ideas. The second level is we’re operating in about 15 industries right now. One of them, as you all know, is an airline. And so again, super important to think about what can we do urgently, like take weight off the planes, but also how can we think about renewable jet fuels? So thinking that long game as well as what we can do immediately. And then the third area, which we feel really passionately about is our responsibility as business leaders for changing the system or else we’ll have lots and lots of conversations like this for the rest of our lives. So one of the things we started was a B team, which is a group of about 25 business leaders looking at changing the system. Sales forces is part of that. But also I think there’s a real lack of moral courage in the world right now. So how can leaders step up to stand up for, for issues. And on that note, I just want to say a big thanks to Rick if he’s still in the room because he’s been doing that for decades and, and we’ve learned a lot from you.
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 14:54
I want to pick up on something that Carlos said, which is you’re not going to make everybody happy. And I think that the definition of ethics is so broad and to some extent so subjective that he, he’s right about that. And I mean, just in listening to your own sense of priorities, there’s certainly some overlap. I heard mention of sustainability several times, climate change inclusiveness came up a couple, but there at definitions of ethics that none of you address particularly. No one mentioned pay equity for example. No one mentioned animal rights, which is not a particular concern of mine, but it is very passionate for millions of people. And I wonder, to what degree does it matter that there is no consensus on the definition of ethics? Does it get in the way of what you do? And how do you create a hierarchy of those who it does matter whether you make them happy or not. Carlo, do you want to pick up on that?
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 15:55
I think it’s a very serious issue that we don’t have a common definition because in a globalized world where we all interact with each other, if we give a different meaning to things and if we can’t agree on center standards or common living, if you look at the division of Eric’s either it contains the word morale or actions that are good for the others. There is days there’s elemental in the definition. So I think the fact that we can’t define in the same ways, and that’s sometimes it’s contradictory, is actually the first issue we are facing. And if we could as a community agree that certain things are ethical, good. Let me give you one example. And I’m in a Catholic environment. So I think the example would be very clear.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 16:42
The death penalty now is for us something that we don’t accept in our culture in pier, in Italy, and in the US and you know, well all over the world in the US a little bit more. You’re right. But he meant it’s, it’s and we would assume that if a government asks you to look at an email to see if a woman has had any contact with another man, she deserves to be happy data. Right? Okay. But if I go to the middle East in terms of religion is considered to be normal and right. And if we look at ourselves 5,500 years ago, maybe it would have, so that not only is normal but necessary. So defining the framework on which we can agree upon a minimal framework to agree upon is important. And to me, it’s around sustainability. We all agree that we want the world tomorrow. It’s around respect of each other. Don’t do to me what you don’t want me to do to you, sorry, the country and several other things that we should try to define together. But if we want to progress in gatherings like today, sorry if I say this, but Phillip, you and I have been working on this now for some years. Either we come to a common charter or common definition or we continue to chart out the emotional level and we don’t get to the solutions one
Tae Yoo – SVP Corporate Affairs & CSR, Cisco Systems: 18:00
I do think it’s always better to have a common framework, but I don’t think that waiting for a common framework means that we don’t know what ethics is. So this is an evolving, the world is dynamic and it’s evolving. So the reason nobody brought pay parody is, is that’s already happening. You know, so many of our companies are already doing pay parity. It’s out there. We naturally form networks around issues. So that is an ongoing process. So I think that the issues of the day happen, nobody would have thought of some of the issues that are happening around privacy. The way we see it now. That’s because technology is enabled that we have to have the agility we expected in our businesses when we develop products and solutions for customers, that we can be very agile and aligned to what is happening in that moment and what the impact of our businesses will have in the future. So I think that there’s a need to be agile and knowing that you don’t wait until there’s a problem to try and figure out how to fix that problem. You just have to be on all the time, the same way that you’re always on social media. So I think that a lot of these issues are being addressed and we should have a common framework, but waiting for a common framework is in my mind an excuse.
David Dempsey – SVP, Salesforce: 19:17
Yeah, so actually I just think that the common framework, there’s a danger there that it gives us something to hide behind as well. Because, I mean ethics, you can define it and you can you know, you can have a checklist if you like and we can all take it and then we can all go away feeling good. But I think that ethics is much more fundamental than it’s about, you know, I know whether I do something right or wrong, even though I’m the only person that’s, that’s doing that and nobody else will ever see it. And I think that ethics are a little bit like that. So I’m wary about, yes, we need entry level or we need a base set of rules, but we should just be very careful as an industry or just as society about maybe hiding behind that.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 19:55
I want to disagree to that. Strongly respectful. I want to, the world is varied. We can’t forget diversity. Go to Russia, go to some parts of Africa, go to middle East, go to Asia. We have different definitions of what is right. I work for a global company and certain things we do obligers to break the law in some countries. So not to do business there because we don’t want to accept certain things. So if I agree, when you say, and when you say, let’s not hide behind looking for something, waiting, doing nothing. But I don’t think that’s what we are doing. But I think we need to look at the world respecting each other and understanding the diversity. Because when we say I know what ethics is and I can teach it to the whole world, well I feel we are a bit arrogant because there are different ways. There are certain things in common and we can look at where they are. When we digitalize a ditzy crawl some years ago at Google and we realize the common patterns between the three religions for example, we also realize where the difference started. And this work needs to be done. We can’t refuse to listen to the others and say, I know, listen to me, you know, perfect ethics is what I say it is. And fortunately, given the capacity of the world, I can’t agree to that.
Louise Koch – Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa, Dell: 21:10
Yeah. So I, I think I tend to agree with, with the side saying we can never get to one universal framework of what is right, what is ethics. And if we think we do, we might be ethnocentric re trying to impose our own system onto others. If we should aim for something that is already an existing framework of ethics, it might be the United nations human rights. And we talked about as well since then, so 48 human rights that some people say are still a Western in their scope. They are very much focused on the right of each and one of us as individuals. And at the same time we know that a lot of cultures I’m much more communal in nature and sometimes the fulfillment of my individual human right might be in contradiction to the common good or the interest of the collective.
Louise Koch – Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa, Dell: 21:54
So, so there is never one symbol way but, but what I think is really important is to look at going from the principle to the practices to be able to make the right decision in, in the concrete situation. And that varies across time, across space. With the culture, I mean the classical example in businesses, are you allowed to invite a customer for a lavish business dinner? In some cultures that is absolutely expected. Whereas in others, no, you cannot do that, so instead of going for that normal norm of the lavish dinner you try to find or that’s what we do in Dell technologies go for something that is not lavish but that is inspiring. That is interesting and then really make it part of the culture so I could speak for hours about the ethics program to nurture that culture in Dell technologies. The short thing is it is something that is very key part of our DNA. Michael Dell stands for that ethics and obviously as he says, well when is your name on every box that goes out?
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 22:53
Let me introduce a related question and then I want to talk to Jean about it because it’s something that we discussed this morning. And then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll rope the rest of you back in one of the premises of this conference as I understand it, is to look for opportunities where businesses can work in partnership with both governments and NGOs to create change. And obviously that sounds really good on paper, but when you engage in the world like that it’s a lot trickier. And you and I were talking this morning about Saudi Arabia and Brunei. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 23:26
Yeah, but before I do that, I just want to respond to the point some of the points for, because I think we can find commonalities on the way we do business because we know short termism is one of the things that’s destroying our world right now. We know that no accountability for our use of natural resources is also destroying the world. So I think there’s many common principles that we can come to conclusion on that help us further ourselves.
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 23:45
Now to, to the question about governments. You know, a couple things with this one. I think we have seen so many times when government business not for profits, religious you have come together and done amazing things. I mean Paris we’re doing amazing stuff with governments in the Caribbean right now. So I think there’s many, many examples of that. I think there’s also difficulties and very difficult ethical decisions. Like when was Saudi Arabia? We were in the process of negotiating a very large deal. And Richard sat on boards and we decided to pull back and the benefit that that had is every single one of us in the company felt really proud. Whether that’s the right decision for every company, we would never say that. But for us that was the right decision. I think to Carlo’s point, what’s interesting to me is like the death penalties for example, we have campaigned against that in the US ongoing constantly. We just campaigned again, not just against Brunei, but the seven countries who still kill people for being homosexual. And what’s been amazing to me is how few business leaders come and stand alongside us. So what I would love to call out for is how can we all be more courageous and give each other ground cover because in those moments when people stand up and be courageous, that’s when it’s needed is to get that ground cover.
Simon Henzell-Thomas – Global Head of Public Affairs, IKEA Group: 25:02
And I think this is exactly what I wanted to say was the challenge I have with ethical frameworks is I think we’ve had them for many years. So I’ve been in this field for 15-20 years and there’s been endless frameworks. But what we need is a kind of sustainability revolution within business that moves from incremental to impact. And I don’t think frameworks are going to give us that. And if you look at the biggest challenge that we will face is humanity now, it’s climate change, right? Our ethical frameworks going to help solve climate change. I don’t think so. The thing that will help us, I’ve solved climate change is things like technology. It’s revolution in customer behavior, it’s fundamental system change, it’s a whole range of stuff. And for me, I don’t, I don’t think an ethical framework helps you that
Tim Nixon – CCO & Global Head of Partnership and Policy, Constellation Research: 25:46
Yeah. So a couple of things about climate change. I mean, this is one area that really isn’t about some sort of subjective ethical standard. I mean there, you know, we get guidance every year from the IPC on how far we’re falling behind on what we should be decreasing year over year. And this is a knowable number. So if a large carbon intensive business is not decreasing year over year at that rate, then by definition they’re externalizing risk onto the rest of the world. So that’s, that’s not really a subjective thing. It’s measurable. It’s knowable. Leadership is, is determinable. Secondly, on the point on whether, you know, this is an ethical issue, I mean, I would argue there is no greater ethical issue than climate change. I mean that the bottom of that Maslow’s pyramid that we heard all about this morning, you can forget about that. Okay. If we continue at the rate that we’re going.
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 26:38
I want to move on because we are about 15 minutes away from the end, but I’d be remiss at a conference called, sorry, the I meant the end of the panel, not the end of the world is at least an hour away. I’d be remiss at a forum called Humanity 2.0 if I didn’t raise the question of artificial intelligence. It seems to me that with some of the excesses of social media that we’ve seen in recent years that we have a pretty good model for what it looks like when algorithms are in control, when algorithms are in control. It’s very, very scary. And I think even some of the largest social media companies have come around to quite publicly acknowledging that. So my question particularly for those of you involved in technology fields is what can we do to make sure that humanistic values remain in charge of these companies and these products that we’re creating where the risk already, it’s not even really in the future. The risk already is that algorithms will take over and create very negative outcomes. Carlo, do you want to go first?
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 27:49
We came out in June with a list of 10 principles of what we do and what we don’t do on artificial intelligence. Because what I would prefer to talk about machine learning and artificial intelligence, I would have three things to say. The first one is yes, you need to know what you don’t do. The limit you put to yourself to the level of transparency and discussion around it is important. It’s not something that needs to stay in a vacuum, but you need to discuss it outside. And I insist on the fact that we need some standards. Okay? We don’t want framework great, but we need some standards. We need to agree that certain things will not be done because they don’t correspond to what’s needed. And then there’s not a matter of integrity to me, which is about rigor, which is like John Paul the second said, don’t be scared.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 28:34
Let’s stop about scaring people saying things, which are not exact because they sound nice. It doesn’t help either. I think we should be very serious about it. Machine learning and you know, we always talk about this and I feel when I come out of an ethical conference, and I do this quite often, I often come out like beaten saying everything is negative, everything is bad and technology is bad and stop working for Google and you know, decide to do something else. But then look at what it did for the world. I mean, machine learning is, is about to sort out cancer. I mean it is this gaining. So I would beg ourselves, please, let’s not only look at those things like negative. Let’s also be able to celebrate the positive because otherwise we will not progress on ethics.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 29:20
We can’t beat ourselves mourning today saying that we are bad when the intentions are maybe the right ones. So what we don’t do is important. Giving limits, being transparent on what you do and of course don’t lie on that. Be able to share those information more and more proposed technologies so that it can be used outside. Tensorflow is a free software. We give it to our competition, everyone to choice of internet, to work with technology. Visual open source is important because it means sharing. That’s extremely important. And last one, please, please, please don’t look at this glass always half void. Look at it half full sometimes you could, we’ll encourage people to do right things. If people are beaten all days, they become nasty.
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 30:02
Louise, I see you nodding. How does Dell think about these issues of AI and machine learning?
Louise Koch – Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa, Dell: 30:07
So a very short that it is absolutely essential that humanity, that human design in the good way, human values are at the center of AI design and algorithms. And that is obviously easier said than done because we all know that human beings and are not perfect. And so is our thinking not, but I very much agree that it’s so important to us to really look at and unfold the potential, the, the positive potential, the impact potential of technology in solving some of the world’s challenges, biggest challenges in terms of precision medicine, high performance computing, AI, analytics of DNA. It’s about providing access to education. It’s about deciding those intelligence systems. And enabling us to or neighboring governments or mayors of city leaders to manage those big massive mega cities that majority of the world’s population will be living in. So there are so many positive impacts and I think the most important thing is that we really take a good conscious look at the pros and cons of technology and make sure that we’re steering it in the direction of the common good as much as we can and then be able to somehow have the red flags is if something is going off track so that we can catch it.
Simon Henzell-Thomas – Global Head of Public Affairs, IKEA Group: 31:30
Ikea is not a leader in artificial intelligence or machine learning, but future of work is a topic that we’re very much engaged with now. And I think it’s linked. And I think the problem with this topic is we always end up with a false dichotomy, which is either robots are going to steal everyone’s jobs or the other extreme. But of course the reality is somewhere in between. Nothing probably is the same with machine learning. And I think when you get into the detail in the granular debate about how the future will look, I agree with you fully. If you take a positive view around the future of work, for example, and say what could automation open up for human potential, it automatically becomes a much better discussion.
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 32:11
I just want a robot to put together my Ikea furniture.
Simon Henzell-Thomas – Global Head of Public Affairs, IKEA Group: 32:17Maybe, but in retail as well. I mean there’s a big discussion around automatic checkouts for example, and how that would result in job losses. And of course, the reality is actually what we find is it frees up those people to do better and more interesting jobs.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 32:33
There are questions that you can ask yourself which are helpful and question which aren’t asking the question will it or destroy jobs in 20 years. He’s one of those questions that you can’t answer and you scare everybody and you don’t move. But if you ask concept the question, how can I create jobs? Which artificial intelligence, how can I replace the jobs that are not created in the same area with certain activities? Then it becomes immediately useful. So I think we should be very careful for on how we ask ourselves questions so that we can progress or only scare ourselves.
David Dempsey – SVP, Salesforce: 32:59
But I think that the human values are the key to this because you know, machines don’t learn from themselves. They learn the values that we give them. But I think that we’ve a really important lesson to learn here because you look at us as society, we are the machines of, you know, machines are now machine learning AI, but look at us, we have our intelligence over the last couple of centuries has grown. So what do we use it for to destroy our very planets? So we should use that. That should be the lesson. That should be the picture we hold up in front of ourselves as we talk about machine learning or AI. Look at what we did when we had the power and maybe we solve our problem and use that. Then as the guideline as we move into machine learning.
Tim Nixon – CCO & Global Head of Partnership and Policy, Constellation Research: 33:41
Just that there are really significant challenges as we’ve touched on earlier in the day with transparency. It cannot be understated how little we know about many of the largest, most important actors in the world. And I think technology and some of the work that Google does every day and others, AI, citizen science joined up offer remarkable potential for helping us understand our world better quickly.
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 34:08
And just quickly, I think the future of work is a perfect opportunity where business, government, nonprofits should be working together. Because if we did that right now, can you imagine we could abolish loneliness. It’s this, that’s a big, bigger killer now then, then tobacco or then obesity. And if we created jobs that were people were freed up to do because of machines, can you imagine all the things that we could do that were amazing in this world? And we’re just not focusing on that.
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 34:34
There’s some pretty interesting robots already in the market that help people with loneliness. They’re really, they’re quite incredible. It’s, it’s pretty early stage, but they’re very interesting. I want to address the question of institutions because this, this whole question of, you know, where the authority for ethics comes from, where the effectiveness of making change comes from. We talk about state actors, we talk about NGO actors, but we’re here in part because of the recent launch or imminent launch of a school of business ethics. And, and I’m curious from your company’s perspective, what can a school like that and institution like that provide that’s going to be most effective for you and your company? And it’s very easy to write reports that sit on shelves and gather dust. It’s very easy to come up with, you know, high minded ethical frameworks that don’t really have much impact in the business sphere. But you’re all kind of, you know, in the trenches of trying to advance ethical thinking within your own institutions and within your communities. What can an institution like this do that would be most useful to you?
Tae Yoo – SVP Corporate Affairs & CSR, Cisco Systems: 35:48
So I think there’s an opportunity for this to be an aggregator because there’s a lot of research that’s happening. I think all of us individually, collectively through consortium’s and alliances, there’s a lot of work happening. And I think that there are people and institutions who do ethical consulting. So it’s not a new idea. What I think would be particularly helpful is, is how do you become an aggregator of all this data that’s coming, put some sense into it and create a it just like we do in business, which is, you know, you have a living laboratory when you’re working on a project and you pull, you know, things from other parts of the organization, other companies so that you can actually get to an end global. So I think that that would be really helpful so the worst thing is, is when you are working on something and somebody is telling you to do something you’ve already been doing and you did it 10 years ago, that is the danger. Right? And I think, I see some heads nodding here. It was really great to see Harvard and MIT and Wharton and other institutions because they’ve been doing the research and the science, but so has companies around here. How do we an NGOs as well, how do we create an aggregator so that it’s a living thing. It’s not just you’re just teaching a session, but you’re really actually improving the dialogue and measuring the impact and creating science for it.
Tim Nixon – CCO & Global Head of Partnership and Policy, Constellation Research: 37:09
So we’re going to be creating over the next six months kind of platform that in one click will show you where a large carbon intensive business is on its journey. So for example, where is Exxon on its journey towards a two degree world, Petro, China, Ecuador, et cetera. And we feel like this level of clarity will allow institutions perhaps like the one that’s being built here to identify where there are opportunities for leadership. So how can, how could an institution like this engage with a CEO who’s at just at the beginning of that journey of de-carbonization? That’s absolutely crucial for all of us because where are these businesses are going, we’re all going. So it feels to me like there’s a real opportunity here to combine this data with innovation, engagement and convening power.
Simon Henzell-Thomas – Global Head of Public Affairs, IKEA Group: 38:01
I think mine would be a call to action to have your starting point as being most people are good and they want to be able to operate in a system that enables them to be good. And how can you support that? Because I think if your starting point is otherwise, then I think you end with the wrong offering. I would also say the presentation earlier today around convening and sharing dilemmas I think would be super useful from a business perspective. So don’t try and recreate a framework, but if you could give a space where common minded businesses come together and share dilemmas and get practical and get shit done, excuse my language. And I think that would be super useful for our business.
Jean Oelwang – President & Trustee Virgin Unite & B Team Senior Partner, Virgin: 38:45
Yeah, and I think three, three quick things just to follow on that. I think you’re right. I think a safe space where people can come and really be honest and transparent because I think there’s so few of those for business leaders right now. I think second is definitely universities pursue MBA programs. I think that needs to be a big focus. And I think thirdly, how could this Institute help tackle some of the barriers of why business leaders are not being ethical? Cause I do believe that people are good inherently. And I think the incentive structures we’ve shaped as human beings are the things that are making them greedy. That, you know, short term is you know ability just to steal from mother nature. So how can this Institute perhaps help break down some of those barriers which would make a big difference.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo – President EMEA Partnerships, Google: 39:27
For me it’s about mindset, sort of get back to common sense and where a school can be important is creating right mindset so that we think about it in certain ways. Ethics is, as you know, there is a sentence in France that says culture is what stays when you forgotten everything. Well to me ethic, it’s what stays when you forgotten everything. Your common sense, your ability to apply a certain lens to what you leave, decide what to do and not to do. So this is what the school could teach. Make sure that we really have it in ourselves and that we can be driven by it as one of the forces that matter for the future. So, mindset. I think it, what stays when you forgotten everything.
David Dempsey – SVP, Salesforce: 40:08
I think the school as well can do. Being the aggregator is very important on the safe space, but I think as well it can probably help us because we, we have an amplified voice. What, we’re not democratic, we’re, you know, we’re in this privileged space of having a voice that, that reaches so many people purely because we’ve been successful in business rather than, so I think maybe the school can help us somehow to either tailor our message or to get our message out there, but in a fashion that there’s a real danger. There’ll be pushback on our message because the message comes from big tech or from successful industry and that it’s not a, it’s not democratic for that reason. So I think maybe that’s something that the school can help us. I’m not sure how it will work, but I think it’s an important thing for us to figure out so that our message is more acceptable because then the message is right.
Louise Koch – Corporate Sustainability Director for Europe/Middle East/Africa, Dell: 40:59
Yeah. So I think in this time, ethics as doing the right thing is the key word. And not to be confused or not to be equated with, Oh, that’s the same as sustainability or CSR. Because then we get into a mix and a discussion of what is what, but maybe seeing ethics as the operating system behind, why is it important as a business? Why is it that we keep going getting into these dilemmas and the leadership aspect and leadership being a business discipline, but also being there much of a personal discipline. And I think that would be a very important piece of a school business ethics. Also using the convening power, but also too to create that safe space where leaders or whoever will come, leaders are not leaders. People can come and reconnect with a purpose, with their own personal purpose, whether it is divine or religious or not. But that purpose of knowing, am I doing the right thing, are we doing the right thing here? Because often we know we just forget it in in the everyday making of business and society.
Tae Yoo – SVP Corporate Affairs & CSR, Cisco Systems: 42:03
So I have a question because we had Wharton, Harvard, we have a bunch of a MIT, they’re all here and they’ve been teaching ethics in business school for a long time. This is not a new thing. So I guess my question is how is this going to be different? And I mean these are the things I think we should be a little bit more drilled down into the details a little bit because I think that would be really important because you have a generation coming of age and I’m not talking about millennials, they have a lot of that. So they’re good. But the Gen Z is coming of age now. And we all know that a corporate culture is only as good as how it’s actualized at the individual level. Right? And so you can have values that you state. We’ve talked about that earlier. But it’s really when it gets down to that level. So, you know, what is the right intervention? Is it massively integrating it at an early age and then topping it up when, you know, when their leaders, I mean, there’s got to be a very practical way of practicing this instead of constantly taking classes?
James Ledbtter – Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine: 43:14
I think that’s a great question. So good that I’m going to lead it to the next panel to discuss. Please join me in thanking this fantastic panel for their presentation.
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