Technology is a great enabler that can elevate global businesses and communities. However, in the absence of responsible leadership, technology can be a weapon of mass destruction. Technology leaders must be a force for positive change. The days of not being accountable are over. The days of being hands-off are over. The days of being silent on social issues are over.
No More Naive Optimism
Data privacy breaches, social media hate propaganda, artificial intelligence bias. As leaders, we can no longer have naive optimism that technology can only bring good. We must be transparent about (and address) the potentially negative outcomes of technology. Also, responsible technology leaders understand their duty to serve as trusted advisors. Leaders must work with clients – and in many cases government officials – to ensure there is an understanding of the potentially negative outcomes associated with technology. Furthermore, senior leadership and boards of directors must promote a culture of responsible technology leadership to mitigate against potentially damaging results when tech goes wrong.
Responsible leadership does not only apply to technical and operational aspects of the business. Social impact is the centerpiece of a responsible technology strategy. Sustainability, diversity, mental health and well-being are just a few social issues where leadership must deliver action and demonstrate progress.
The same rigor in which we push the limits of what our technology can do, we need to push the limits and positively influence social issues. People will no longer accept the traditional leadership approaches that simply offer “lip service” to social issues. Leaders must respond to social issues and people issues that impact their employees and clients. Furthermore, clients will continue base buying decisions on the stance that companies take on issues such as racism, sexism and environmental issue.
Bridging gaps among communities is a key function that leaders must demonstrate. One must not only internally lead their company but he or she must also serve as a leader within the broader technology community. As a co-founder and CEO of Hyve Dynamics, I understand my responsibility in ensuring our company brings together different companies, government officials and other organizations address problems that impact the broader society. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic arose, Hyve knew our sensor technology could address certain aspects of that problem but also, we wanted to partner and bring together other organizations to develop solutions.
Technology Culture Going Forward
We are at a tipping point. Employees and consumers are demanding companies they work for and with to be more conscious. Responsible technology leaders must demonstrate the integrity, authenticity, empathy, and accountability required to navigate companies through turbulent times. What do you stand for? What will you stand against? With this type of responsible leadership, those are the companies where people will work. Those are the companies on which clients will spend. Those are the companies that will survive.
Written by Cecilia Harvey. CEO at Hyve Dynamics