Revolution or Evolution? Ideas from the IWF

This year’s International Women’s Forum (IWF) World Cornerstone Conference in Melbourne, Australia, provided a truly unique forum for our Edelman delegation—representing Chicago, Delhi, Paris, Sao Paolo and Vancouver—to examine global issues among an amazing group of diverse leaders in areas from government to the arts to the Fortune 500.

IWF sounded a call to action to all of us to be problem solvers in a world of constant change. Panels examined a wide range of global topics from human origins to new frontiers in human genetics. Yet our delegation walked away from each distinct panel with synergistic mandates that apply to our own work and evolution. Here’s a look at a few of those key themes:

Lead with Optimism

While breakthroughs in genetics and the evolving use of augmented intelligence have the potential to answer some of our biggest questions, they are often met with fear and apprehension. In fact, almost every transformational period in history, including the Industrial Revolution, has been faced with fear. This brings up an important question: What do we do as leaders during these exciting but disruptive times? Chris Blake, Executive General Manager of Group Services at Australia Post, argued that as a leader you are paid to be optimistic, especially during times of uncertainty. Optimism is crucial in instilling confidence in employees, so that together we can succeed. Optimistic leaders accept there may be challenges ahead but focus on what they can control and on achieving a desired goal.

Accept, Adopt and Adapt 

Life, as we know it, is intrinsically bound to change. Wise are those who accept, adopt, and adapt. The world of communications is converging at warp speed. Lines between marketing, internal, external and digital communications have blurred. Augmented intelligence—unlike artificial intelligence—aims to enhance human intelligence rather than replace it and could vastly enhance our offerings to clients through data analytics, swift response to crisis and scaling their reach, among others. Being a leader in the world of communications, we should be optimistic about this technological advancement and unlock its potential to improve client service and delivery.

We have already started on this trajectory through Edelman Intelligence, which leverages technology to provide clients with data that helps them better understand their markets, profile their audiences, optimize messaging and measure the outcome. The looming fear that artificial intelligence will take jobs and change the current state of affairs is making many lose sleep. But a recent report by Gartner noted that AI will create more jobs by 2020 than it removes. And while artificial and augmented intelligence will certainly change the nature of jobs, they will not eliminate them completely.

The Battle for Truth

The IWF featured the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer findings presented by our very own Michelle Hutton, managing director of Global Client Strategy for Edelman. Michelle delivered a dynamic discussion centered on the new Battle for Truth. Alongside fellow panelist, Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, a start-up in the Philippines, which is trying to deliver people quality news despite the government’s effort to shut down the company. Michelle also examined fake news and its impact on business and society as a whole.

We are so appreciative of this experience together as a global assembly and as beneficiaries of Edelman’s continued investments and commitment to fostering an environment where women are encouraged and have a clear runway to lead.

Kristina Duff is an associate director, Brand Marketing, Paris.

Daniela Ferreira is an account director, Employee Engagement, Sao Paulo.

Medha Girotra is head, Delhi and Public Affairs Lead, Delhi.

Sheila Mulligan is general manager, Advisory Services, Chicago.

Jenny Peters is an account manager, Corporate Affairs, Vancouver.

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