Why I Believe Art is the Key to Inclusion in the Workplace

4min read

The technological transformation is underway at the dawn of the new decade. I think we are all both fascinated and scared about what is going to happen in the 2020s. We know for sure that it will entail the shift of jobs requiring more creative and high-cognitive skills. Talent will be measured by sophisticated intelligence, forensic efficiency, and pressure resiliency. Companies with innovative and tech advanced products will thrive economically, but I believe it will not be enough to advance our society. Business leaders will have to involve their ingenuity and energy to sustain this change for people. And not only for technically savvy people or creative minds. The culture of innovation will have to be for everybody regardless of their background, education, gender, race, or current occupation.

Skills for future jobs will demand speed information processing, multiple simultaneous attention, constant learning, and new idea generation. The workforce is already known to be stressed, and the possibility of job disruption adds to the anxiety level. Those abilities are not innate for most people and will need to be learned to remain competitive in the job market. This is where thought leaders need to play a crucial role and provide an inspiring and safe environment. They need to foster the necessary learning so that everybody has the chance to prosper. There are many ways to advance the mentioned skills, which include mindfulness meditation, breathing work, reading, and brain exercise. However, one way to do so, which we do not automatically think about is through the arts.

Viewing, experiencing, and analyzing visual art can stimulate the brain and thus help to improve the mental function.

Here are the main reasons why:

  • Art has a profound psychological impact on individuals.
  • Looking at art involves seeing things in relative terms and requires one to get out of their comfort zone.
  • Art contains messages to be always alert to the changing society.
  • Through its inventive process, it brings vitality to the thought methodology.
  • Art can conjure strong emotions and deep thoughts, benefiting the brain to create new neuro connections. In exchange, it can sharpen critical faculties of individuals and free their creative drives, dropping the invisible personal barriers. Then imagination and creativity can be boosted, which will be essential capabilities in the workplace of tomorrow.
  • Understanding art requires a certain level of humility, which helps the brain to unlearn first before learning new skills.
  • Art is also an amazing way for people to reconnect with each other and to create social occasions to meet. Feeling lonely could trigger psychological and cognitive decline, while art promotes community interactions.

The bottom line is that art maps out the road to fundamental learning. Therefore companies could only benefit from having art and artists in the office. This is how this could be achieved:

  • Art could be hanging on the walls or be installed in the forms of sculptures.
  • Artists could be working in residencies at corporations or provide lectures about their vision of the present and the future.
  • Collectible design furniture could be present in the rest areas.
  • Artists could be on the Advisory Board of organizations. I strongly believe that artists provide an alternative view about what it means to be successful for a business through lenses of humanity.

Not only does art cultivate intellectual curiosity - a critical faculty in the fast paced environment - but it's also beneficial to foster inclusive growth. It is known that the first jobs which will be impacted are those held by women. Women historically occupy lower qualified positions, which will be the first affected by new technologies such as AI, robotics, and other automated tools. The same applies to racial and ethnic minorities.

Meaningful art in the workplace is available to everybody. And I don't mean only having art in the board rooms or the lobby space - it's not enough. Leaders need to think including art in the meditation and silent rooms, inviting artists to talk to employees and explain their process, include artworks with an extensive palette of colors and shapes, unusual combinations of content, and material. It needs to be installed where people actually work. If business leaders really want to make a difference, they need to put the type of artwork that will be talked about at the dinners at home by their employees and reproduced on social media profiles.

Leaders have a great responsibility to embark everybody on the transformational journey towards an inclusive workplace of the 21st century. They can forestall it by the means of arts. Rob Riemen said "You can't keep the society with economics alone, it takes culture to do this." And I couldn't agree more with these words.

6 Min Read

Sneak Peek: Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories About Dating, Divorce, And Saying "I Do"

Dating. Divorce. Marriage. Being single. None of it is easy.

I don't think any of us have the right answers or know exactly what we are doing when we navigate through relationships or breakups, even if we do take every Buzzfeed quiz there is out there. What I have found out though, is by writing this book, Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Dating, Divorce & Saying "I Do" most everyone can relate to some part of it, whether it is having an awkward date, being dumped, or falling in love. The short stories read as if we are talking over drinks at a bar gossiping about our love life. It's as if, you, reader, are one of my best friends. I hope by reading this book you are reminded that you don't have to be anybody but you and your mistakes are simply memories to learn upon. Get comfy, grab a glass of wine (or your beverage of choice), cuddle with your furry companion (pet or otherwise), and enjoy…

From the chapter "Kansas & The Firepit" from Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Divorce, Dating & Saying "I Do"

I had lost my dog to my ex. I was a mess. I thought this man was going to be by my side the rest of my life, I had gained a lot of weight. Not the kind of weight you gain when you tell your friend "OMG, Kelly, I, like, put on five pounds this summer because of all the partying I've been doing at the rooftop bars," but real weight. The weight that makes you feel totally inadequate. The weight that makes you say, Hey I might as well keep eating because it doesn't matter anymore. I was inconsolable during that summer.

I still wasn't completely out of my trash TV and alcohol phase, but I had switched to vodka, at least. Which, let's be real, just hides the fact that you're an alcoholic. I wasn't really talking to anyone about my problems. My mom tried to take me to fat camp. Yes, fat camp. When your mother says the reason why you're not happy is because you're fat, there comes a point where you really don't know whether to laugh, cry, or drink. I think I did all three. The reason why I wasn't happy was because I was going through a divorce, and my life was unraveling. I was not only unhappy but also fat, so I guess there was some truth to that. It was just what I needed to hear to get myself back to reality.

While cleaning the kitchen one day, I walked by a pair of boxing gloves. Boxing was something I had always been interested in. Watching it on TV and having some friends that had done it professionally, I figured I would take the plunge and put this "body after breakup" into motion.

There was only one boxing club in our area for fitness. I walked into the afternoon classes knowing that I was going to be a little out of my element, but I'm not afraid of a challenge. I'm an outgoing person and being sports savvy, I knew that I would catch on quickly. The guy teaching the class, Kansas, was very attractive. Ladies, you know how in yoga when you have to do the sun god pose? Well, let's just say he was what you would hope a sun god looked like. With sweat glistening down the side of his face, it was almost as if the ceiling parted and angels started singing as he stood over you telling you, "Ten more!" as you got down for ab rounds between punches. This guy was exciting. He was energetic. He was. . . constantly checking on me during class to make sure my form was correct, since I was new, and let's face it—I was totally OK with the attention. After class I signed up for a one-year membership and became addicted, not just because I loved the workouts but also because of the hot trainer.

I started coming to class three times a week, initially taking only Kansas's classes, but not wanting to look obvious when I really started crushing on him, I had to mix it up. I mean, this is Crushing 101. This was my first crush out of the gate post-divorce, so exactly what you think would happen, happened. Kansas became my rebound guy. I would make any excuse to linger after class (which, looking back, just made me look desperate), but then sometimes I would switch it up and leave. I mean, it was a game. I was trying to figure out if he was interested or not. It was exhausting. After talking after class for a few weeks, I happened to mention a home improvement project I had been thinking of working on. Being the good listener (stalker?) that I was, I knew he just happened to be interested in home improvements, as he did many of his own. I figured that would be a great way to get to know each other better and for him to fall completely in love with me, of course. Duh. Now I had a reason to cross something off my "list". I love sitting outside and having a glass of wine and listening to music by a fire. I wasn't really sure how I was going to accomplish this task on my own, but recruiting a fine gentleman like Kansas would be a good start. So, he agreed to my firepit project, and after gathering supplies at Home Depot, he came over, and I quote to you from my journal, I kid you not:

So today he shows up, and we are in the backyard digging the hole, and he takes his shirt off. His body is a wonderland! I mean sweat is just glistening down his torso. So I had to change the subject somehow and shut my gaping mouth, so like an idiot I say, "Oh, look, a callus on my hand," and he says, "Those on a woman are sexy." FML.

Ladies and gentlemen, do you want to know what I did that day? Something so adult and so mature: I pushed him into the dirt. I pushed that beautiful body into the dirt. I couldn't take it. I was like a schoolkid on a playground. Because that is the type of tantrum this lady used to throw. Kansas took it as flirting. I took it as frustration, because I couldn't tell a boy I liked him at the time.

This whole awkward flirting game went on for a few more weeks. Kansas would come over, and we'd dig more holes (to bury my dignity in) or set stones—I don't know. I thought rebound guys were supposed to be fun, casual things, but this wasn't fun at all. This was like homework in school. Every day I'd come home from "class," and I'd strategize on what I needed to do to make better "grades." If I had actually spent half the time in real school that I spent on Kansas, I would've had a 4.0. I was having to chase him, but I almost didn't know what race I was running. After all, I hadn't dated since 1884. So I figured if the firepit thing didn't work, then I'd write him a poem... Like a moron...