Harnessing the talents and creativity of men and women, young and old, of the gay community and all ethnic backgrounds is the key to innovation and a better world. Diversity is the bedrock for entrepreneurship and innovation, and central to “winning the future” as President Obama has said.
The inclusion of historically underrepresented minorities in science, engineering and technology fields, such as women, is a priority of the Obama Administration and a personal passion of mine. That’s why I was so happy and honored to be included in a dynamic and thought-provoking conference organized by Sweden’s MTG in partnership with Spotify and Google.
The conference was held in the same cavernous room that the U.S. Embassy held its large election event in 2012 which brought President Barack Obama to victory! Just stepping inside and remembering the energy and inspiration from that day gave me great motivation for the panel I would speak on focusing on innovation.
Cristina Stenbeck, the incredibly articulate 36-year-old global chairman of MTG and Kinnevik, launched the conference with inspiring words on a future global vision of a digitalized, highly-integrated tech world as well as why and how her companies have been successful in vales-based leadership and gender equality. The rest of the day featured discussions by female senior leaders from Google and Spotify, as well as both male and female entrepreneurs on what works in creating a sustainable company and disrupting markets with innovation.
I’ve so enjoyed learning about Sweden’s innovative startup ecosystem and exploring ways we can amplify shared values through innovation and entrepreneurship. Learning from each other is one of the most exciting parts of diplomacy. At the Embassy, we’ve been able to bring people together to openly discuss issues such as gender equality, multiculturalism and diversity, and how we can use entrepreneurship as a tool for empowerment. This was the basis for my panel remarks at the Women in Tech 2014 conference.
Immigrants or their children have founded 40% of our country’s Fortune 500 companies including some of America’s most iconic brands like Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. Diversity in all forms— in gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation— is key to continuing the thriving levels of innovation in both of our countries.
Women are breaking down barriers today in science and technology. 25% of IT jobs are held by women today and the percentage of females choosing to study science and engineering is increasing, a trend that the President is promoting through a national STEM campaign.
Having the opportunity to live and engage in Sweden has been the honor of a life-time for Mark and me. To work with such a talented U.S. Embassy team in such an innovative and country has been incredibly rewarding and we look so much forward to new and interesting collaborations with our friends the Swedes. We look so forward to advancing diversity, innovation and gender equality together with you! The best is yet to come!
Check out this video highlighting women in tech and the efforts of U.S. Embassy Sweden in innovation and diversity!