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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
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February 26, 2024

Panel Discussion at IDEAS Boston

(Pic) IDEAs Boston Panel

The second half of IDEAS Boston conference was a Panel Discussion that ran for an hour. This discussion was lead by Doug Banks who is the Executive Editor of Boston Business Journal.  The speakers for this portion of the conference were William Brah, Jhana Senian, Mohit Kansal and Katie Stebbins.

Brah, Senian, Kansal and Stebbins are the executive directors of the University of Massachusetts Boston Venture Development Center (VSC): They are the Founder and CEO of the Sustainability Guild International, Founder of CurrencyDoc at the VDC, Assistant Secretary of Innovation, and Assistant Secretary Technology and Entrepreneurship of Commonwealth of Massachusetts respectively.

The topic of the discussion was about the benefits of a diverse work force in different types of companies. Most companies accept the notion that they can benefit from a diverse work force, but the notion can be hard to prove especially when it comes to measuring how diverse effects affirm the ability to innovate.

Panelists were to state a couple of words concerning the topic. Banks would then ask them a question about their statement. This portion of the discussion was very conversational and audience members had the chance to also ask the panelist questions via Twitter. 

The statistic that was given concerning this topic was based on the Harvard Business Review. The study surveyed 1800 professionals, 40 case study and numerous focus studies and interviews looking at two different types of work study; inheritance (gender, ethnicity, etc.) and acquired diversity (traits gained from experiences). 

The study claimed that by having these two traits in the workforce, they help to unlock innovation by creating an environment for “out of the box” ideas. Statistically, workplaces that have these two forms of diversity are reported to have more growth, whether it is economic or through new marketing. The study goes further, splitting results into different categories such as women, people of color and LGBT.

Each of the panelists has their own background of diversity in their field. Stebbins claims diversity being a geographically diverse candidate in administration. Brah has good experience with diversity in his field by working at the VDC where it is the “arc of diversity.”

Senian, as a member of the ethnically diverse Greater Boston area, shows her diversity this way. Kansal’s background is that he had many different opportunities living and working in different parts of the world and now is working with people from different backgrounds and helping them find solutions to problems that are not necessarily obvious. 

Some of the discussion included improving diverse entrepreneurs in Boston which also tied in to what state and policy makers do to enhance diversity, whether it’s through people or ideas. Another idea concerns whether out-of-state school systems are up to par in encouraging innovation. Lastly, discussion also focused on the panelists’ personal challenges with working on diversity in their work field.

IDEAS Boston ended with this portion of the program and was closed with Provost Winston E. Langley.