March 2023

HEC Paris in Qatar & French Chamber of Commerce in International Women’s Day ‘Innovation Through Diversity’ Initiative


On February 28th
, HEC Paris, a globally-renowned business school, partnered with the French Embassy and CCI France-Qatar to host an event that celebrated International Women's Day and promoted the "Innovation through Diversity" theme. The event was a remarkable opportunity to bring together professionals, both male and female, from 28 Qatari, French and international private and public organizations. The event highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and progress in the workplace. 

The highly interactive session provided participants with the opportunity to share good practices around how they are creating cultures of belonging and developing leadership to support Innovation across teams. 

Key points from the keynote speaker: Dr. Noora Fetais, Founding Secretary General of the Arab Association for Cyber Security and Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Qatar University, emphasised the importance of creating workplace cultures that set women up for success and to challenge stereotypes around women and work. The question of why we need to have diversity in the workplace is becoming redundant, increasingly recognised as the smart thing to do, not only because of the economic uplift but also being the moral imperative in any functioning society. The focus for discussion was on the HOW’s – how do leaders leverage on diverse teams to bring cognitive diversity into problem solving? How do mitigate unconscious biases and bring different perspectives to the table and how do we encourage cross-functional collaboration?

Conscious leadership was central discussion point, creating cultures of psychological safety, building trust and belonging in teams. Working on culture requires an equitable approach for women and men, having open conversations around working practices that foster trust. Participants shared examples of what works well in their organizations in terms of soft wiring to create the culture and clear targets throughout the recruitment process to strengthen a diverse pipeline into senior leadership roles. 

Homophily teams, where members are similar to each are effective in achieving tasks, however, teams with diverse members generate new ideas. Creative confidence in teams is built on a systemic approach; providing space for experimentation and creating opportunities to build the organizational creative muscle. Waiting for a burning platform is too late for creative solutions to kick in, leaders need their teams to build confidence in experimentation and generating new ideas. Creating a culture that encourages risk-taking, and creating opportunities to mitigate for failure are essential to innovation. And a final worthy mention that is essential for innovation – creating happiness in the workplace. 

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