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Staff networks and AI: What is the future?

AI is everywhere, all around us and taking over so many aspects of our digital world without us even knowing.  The question we all have is: what is the future? will humans be needed? will AI replace us all in a virtual world? and how can we harness this technology to add value to the work our networks do?

AI powered tools can streamline communication, create strong knowledge bases and be proactive in trend spotting, gauging employee satisfaction and more accurately identify the gaps or opportunities to make work better. 

We could use AI to build databanks of sponsors and mentors, ready willing and able to support networks and resource groups to flourish and thrive and become active partners in the strategic delivery for their organisations. 

Technology is built by humans, for humans, so it relies on what is input at the start.  How much time do we spend trawling over staff surveys and compare to our workforce records and see the same gaps year on year, telling us no trust in data systems and no value in sharing our personal information with our employer beyond the necessary.   

Networks and resource groups have grown on the back of data not telling the full story.  People coming together to take action and lead the improvement in workplace culture, as strategies and action plans designed by others have not delivered.   Nothing about us without us is becoming the mantra and a digital world is creating as much divide as it is connection. 

As more and more of our daily living moves to technology driven solutions I hear more people saying they are stepping away – back to using cash as its too easy to lose track with phones and watch tapping, getting vinyl records out, as downloads are without soul and connection to the artist. Our virtual world of meetings and events is

losing something, everything is one dimensional – how often do you meet people in person and think you had them all wrong from their screen version?  Our ability to interpret and connect through body language is being stifled and our unconscious bias is having a field day!     

AI may support this work but it can never replace that human interaction.  It can’t do emotion for a start and that’s a vital part of the work, winning hearts and minds and creating social movements for change.  It might create more streamlined communication channels but its hard to beat a corridor conversation or “fika” by the kettle.   

Current news tells us that relying on technology alone is a high risk strategy. Instead, let's embrace this technology and allow our networks to harness the best from this rapidly developing landscape, to be at the heart of workplace culture and engagement. With the right tools to release them to do what they do best  - time to talk.  Time to talk to their members, for their members and raise their voice to the highest level and be heard.  Create peer to peer platforms where a problem shared becomes a solution in a safe space.   Talking and listening to those with lived experience is priceless and can have an impact that digital interventions cannot replace.


Debbie Robinson is D&I specialist and a champion of staff networks


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