I spent 42 hours at the Eureka Innovation Days in Helsinki on 22nd to 24th of May. It was like traveling 40 years back in time. Old white middle-aged men on stage for three whole days, with one exception. If I had seen the panel participants ahead of time (not listed in the program), I would’ve stayed in Kista.
This made me really disapponted, slightly shocked and also very worried. In these times, it is particularly important for publically funded organizations, like Eureka, to mirror the compositions of people in our society. The reasons for this are not only related to democracy and social sustainability but also that we really need diversity for true innovation to occur.
Every individual has unique experiences, contexts and mindsets. If you put different people together, amazing things can emanate from open, structured collaboration. If everyone is alike, they will invent the same thing over and over again and the only new outcome will come from external progress or change.
Therefore, younger and older people should have been up there on stage, as well as women, people of all colors and ethnicities, and people with disabilities. They should have been given the opportunity to represent true diversity and thereby inspire us in the audience.
I have decided to write a complaint to the European Parliament urging them to present new demands, strutures, methods and strategic processes to change this current situation.
I know there are a great variety of smart people out there that can represent true diversity on stage and be perfect inspiring role models for innovation. They must be included and offered the opportunity to share their experiences with us all.