Wow, wow, wow – what a first half of 2017 we have had.

Over the last few years the 100% Human at Work initiative has grown significantly, bringing together a network of organisations that believe that the time has come for business to start thinking of people as human beings and not as resources – and this year we’ve taken the network to new places.

First stop was in Sydney, where our brilliant partners Perpetual and Talent International helped us host the first ever gathering in Australia. We had lively conversations about the future, culture, equality, mental health, purpose and the role business can play with refugees. Contributors on the day included Scott Farquar of Atlassian, Tiernan Brady of Australians for Equality, Virgin Mobile talking about their R U OK? Campaign and The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre alongside leaders from a range of Australian businesses.

Virgin Unite, 100% Human, The B Team

Back in London we hosted our third annual Gathering in June which was kicked off by Leena Nair, Chief Human Resource Officer, Unilever and Valerie G Keller, Global Lead, EY Beacon Institute who posed the question, "In a digital work, how can being more human be key to unlocking more growth?". Check out the ongoing discussion #humanatwork.

We need to stop being scared of what the future might bring for work – even though we don’t quite know where we are going yet.

Our final stop was Cape Town, where we brought together 60 business leaders for our inaugural Africa gathering. Richard Branson joined us on his birthday to lead a conversation on the importance of purpose driven businesses that can create real change. We were very lucky to have Randy Newcomb of Humanity United lead a surprisingly amusing discussion about supply chains. Simon Susman, Chairman, Woolworths closed the morning out by sharing some of the great work Woolworths are doing to be purpose led, build great teams and to truly live their values. It was really inspiring stuff and we now have our first group of African business leaders who can help drive the network there with our partners at Virgin, AIG and Econet. 

Virgin Unite, 100% Human, The B Team, Richard Branson, Jean Oelwang

A few of my tiny take-aways from all of these amazing conversations:

  • We need to stop being scared of what the future might bring for work – even though we don’t quite know where we are going yet, I’ve heard the phrase building the plane whilst we are flying it quite a few times in recent months.
  • Throughout every conversation, in every location, the idea that humans bring a secret weapon of creativity that the best companies will harness
  • Lines are increasingly being crossed and blended between workplaces, communities, government and the social sector – there is a movement towards collaboration and co-creation – together we can learn and shape that future and dream big together.
  • Skills, skills, skills – this is a challenge on everyone’s mind and as we think about the future of work, we must also be thinking about the future of education and how that links to business.
  • In Jean Oelwang’s words – “This group can be a beacon of hope, but hope without action is useless, so it is now that we have to do this.”
  • And my favourite idea on the future of work– thanks to Tarun Gidomal from Next Jump – “AI is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it & so everyone claims they are doing it.”
Virgin Unite, 100% Human, The B Team

Our next Gathering isn’t until November in New York so I can finally take a breath to do some planning – maybe even take a couple of days off to walk the dog. We hope that this amazing journey with our growing community has just begun, and we encourage all network members to stay engaged and do their part in making workplaces more human. Here are just a couple of ways companies can do that:

  • Inspiring the next generation of businesses to start or move towards purpose-driven companies that drive positive impact for people and are 100% Human. 
  • Taking action in their companies – Helping accelerate new ways of working by demonstrating leadership within their company and experimenting with new ways of working.
  • Using their collective voice, influence and reach – Helping us speak out on these issues that matter to put them on the global agenda and spark action.
  • Collectively shifting the system for the better – coming together as we go forward to share ideas, shape strategies and kick-start new initiatives to reinvent work for the better and accelerate transformation.  
  • Partnering with us – become one of our key partners who will help to own and drive the initiative.

Here’s to plenty more progress for the rest of 2017 and beyond.