THE IMPORTANCE OF CORPORATE R&D FOR AN INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT
“The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political, and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic. Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex”. That’s the introductory message of a report, published almost one year ago, by the United Nations that was already capturing and predicting how COVID-19 would have major impacts, especially on the most vulnerable individuals in our societies. To fight against the difficulties generated by the pandemic, the report was suggesting “to use this moment to rebuild more equal, inclusive and resilient societies” by engaging more women in the COVID-19 response and defining socio-economic plans with an intentional focus on the lives and futures of women.
Taking inspiration from this context, this year the International Women’s Day (IWD), which we celebrate every 8th March, will concentrate attention on our world challenged by COVID-19. And because from challenges comes change, we all may choose to modify the way we do things so that from our everyday improvement we can together become architects of a new world.
POLICYMAKERS TO TAKE ACTION
Nowadays, we have all the statistical evidence confirming how difficult the last year has been for women, in every role and industry across the world. In many cases, with the spread of the pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back. For instance, when considering academia it has been highlighted that mothers working in research lost the most dedicated work time during the lockdown periods, decreasing the numbers of their publications and endangering the possibilities of getting more funding for their research. A similar trend has been recorded in every other working context, where women’s employment is dropping faster than average.
This scenario pushes on policymakers to identify appropriate strategies that, by focusing on the characteristics of every specific situation, are capable of counteracting the negative effects of the pandemic. As an example, several editors, funders, and academic leaders have put in place different mechanisms to mitigate the threats posed by COVID-19 on women in academia. Defining special funding for caregiving researchers, making virtual conferences free, extending deadlines for funding request proposals, and incorporating application forms that include a space for people to specifically mention the impacts of COVID-19 on their progress so far are just example initiatives that aim at reducing gender biases.
CHALLENGE RHYMES WITH RESEARCH AND BUSINESS
As we wait to see a response to the pandemic with ad hoc policies against gender inequalities implemented across the world, at Konica Minolta Digital Services R&D we decided to support the campaign launched by the International Women’s Day organisation. Following the celebration of women and girls in science held on 21st February, we believe that demonstrating the importance of engaging females in scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics matters (STEM) is our way to contribute to acknowledging the talented women in our business.
For us, the #choosetochallenge hashtag suggested by IWD organisation, means to raise our hand and focus on the importance of doing research within an inclusive environment. A research laboratory in which teams are coordinated with open and agile methodologies can be the key to engage and motivate employees, regardless of their gender.
We believe that the perceptions of women working in Konica Minolta Digital Services R&D can be relevant for any person facing similar challenges and opportunities in their daily work. So, within the next paragraphs, take the time to hear from some of our colleagues who are involved in management, administrative or research and technological issues, and see how they are navigating the ever changing R&D landscape.
RETHINK EMPOWERMENT EVERY DAY
For IWD this year, Konica Minolta has organised a global discussion panel during which four female leaders will be discussing the importance of gender equality after an introduction of our President and CEO Shoei Yamana about the importance of diversity and inclusion in our company. Beyond this insightful event, we believe that every day of the year we should strive to create environments where the focus is on personal skills and talents regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or age. And, joining the Konica Minolta Business Women Network, we believe research and technologies represent an inclusive path for engaging and empowering new generations of young researchers. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our research activities or join as partner for co-innovation.