Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

How companies can be proactive about women’s equality

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day in the U.S., celebrating the 99th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, believes it’s time for companies to stop just talking about equality at work, and start approaching it with urgency and tangible action. “When it comes to equality in the workplace, I know for a fact that plenty of companies want to become more diverse and offer more opportunities to people from a variety of backgrounds,” she writes in this Inc. article. “But if you don’t make diversity a goal, then it won’t happen. You won’t see change unless you tell people it’s a metric to measure.” Zak believes that companies need to step up their hiring efforts, and provide support networks for diversity. “Hiring for diversity is a great step forward, but it’s not the final step,” she writes. “There’s always work to be done making sure that everyone in your office is supported and has access to the same networks and opportunities as everyone else.” She also argues that companies should donate to organizations that support women and minorities. “If you want to help make a larger change worldwide, then you should look into extending your support beyond your company or customers,” Zak writes.

Creative skills are critical in the age of AI

Creativity is the one skill that will protect workers from being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, claims John Abel, vice president of cloud and innovation at Oracle. “You need to bring out—in all of your workforce—creative skills, because as we know with the modernization of IT, and specifically with AI machine learning, anything that’s a logical processing job will at some point be replaced. So what we’re asking our staff to do is use their creative skills across all age groups in the workplace because that’s the unique advantage,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.” Abel also urged companies and workers to realize that the skillsets people gain through their education no longer will last for their entire career. “Now the average skill will last no more than six years, so what you’re looking at is agility, flexibility and diversity,” he said. “That creative bit is so critical to the next generation and actually to the current generation. Age is something we look at, but I think what we should do is start looking at the individuals and start thinking: what capability can they bring to the business and how do we make them creative, not industrial?”

Six ways to build a culture of innovation

Winning enterprises are innovative, and it’s the senior leadership’s job to ensure that innovation becomes a strategic, guiding principle that touches every part of the company, argues Shelly Kramer. In this TalentCulture blog post, she identifies six ways to foster a culture of innovation: 1. Embrace a multifaceted approach, starting at the bottom. 2. Empower your employees to provide value in new ways. 3. Understand that failing is OK. 4. Choose your approach to innovation metrics wisely. 5. Don’t be afraid to take action—and quickly. 6. Learn from the past and look to the future. “The ability to innovate and to inspire innovation in [your] team is the foundation for growth, the difference maker, the special sauce,” Kramer writes.

Our research, “Agile Organization for Financial Services,” delves further into how banks and insurers can drive innovation.

In 2020, focus on training and employee engagement

Training is key to keeping employees engaged, productive and loyal, claims Greg Furstner. “Far too many companies believe it’s cost-prohibitive to train employees,” he writes in Forbes. “Some employers fear that if they invest in learning and development, employees will then leave for better positions elsewhere. But if they don’t train their employees, companies will have an underskilled workforce.” Furstner notes that there has been a recent shift in attitudes toward employee training, and more companies are increasing their training budgets. “Employees tend to be the most satisfied and productive when they’re trained for the skills and knowledge they need to perform their duties,” he writes. “Confident employees are engaged and enthusiastic, and they feel valued.” In addition to providing relevant and positive training opportunities, Furstner claims, top-level leaders must commit to an engaging culture. “The foundation of an engaged culture is purpose and meaning,” he writes. “When employees understand how their work directly affects the company’s goals and vision, they are more engaged with the organization and its purpose.”

For more news on reskilling and workforce training, see our page here.

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