I am the daughter of immigrants from the West Indies – a hybrid of Grenada and Jamaica. The ethics I absorbed from early childhood watching my parents and grandparents work exceptionally hard made me a striver, learning by example. Growing up, I realized that I bridged two worlds – my culture and the British way of life and language. I was a blend of both and found myself, like many, in a position where I was a connection that allowed these worlds to communicate. Not only in cultural terms but also the understanding of mobility; having physically disabled relatives. My experiences at school, within the office walls of companies I worked for and during my travels around the world, sowed the seeds for my growing ambition to create social equity for those who feel marginalized and under-represented. When you don’t feel acknowledged or understood by brands you buy from, communities you’re apart of, employers you work for, perhaps friends or acquaintances you have relationships with (albeit unintentionally), social-exclusion and self-doubt collide. The struggle is real to make yourself visible when there are parties who don’t recognize your presence or actively demonstrate that you matter. This truth fueled my passion for spearheading opportunities and initiatives that open doors and change lives for multiple generations, cultures and communities.
When I was consulting for a technology company, one of the employees talked about the frustration they felt when testing the capabilities of the company’s facial recognition software. Their African-American features were not recognized and they shared this feedback with the development team. I once was testing a new Mixed Reality game and it was a struggle to get the headset to fit over my hair. I thought to myself that if Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality, with all their complexities, can leave a person feel excluded; were the simplest technologies used by the general public everyday doing the same? And if so, how could they be transformed to create a greater sense of inclusion?
Prejudices behind algorithms that predict the way we learn and relate to each can do more harm than good, amplifying societal inequalities that already exist. Moreover, heightening human bias.It’s never been more important for diversity to be reflected in the technology we use on a daily basis. It’s our greatest ally in helping build self-identification.