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.

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From $0 to $3Billion In Sales: Serial Inventor Joy Mangano Shares Her Entrepreneurial Secrets

How many times have you looked at something and thought: I wish this did more? And how many times have you thought long and hard about what else you could make it do, if you had the resources, time, and a factory-load of people working for you?

We've all certainly been there. Whether we were 5 and inventing a flying Barbie, or futuristic football, or 35 and looking at the kitchen imagining a self-taught robot that would help with the nightly dinners. We've all come up with what we thought were million dollar ideas - but almost none of us follow through because we're already too busy, and somebody else has probably invented it already.

For one woman, this very sequence of events took place when she was just a teenager. Unimpressed with her dog's collar, she created a new one with florescent sides (making them more visible to cars at night) that would fit more comfortably on a dog or cat's neck. But because of her relative youth, the collar was never produced, and a year later was released and patented by another company.

The girl, Joy Mangano, vowed this would never happen again.

Fast forward to 1990. Single mother-of-three, Mangano has a bigger, bolder idea. This time, the Miracle Mop is born, launching her career as an entrepreneur and setting her up for a life in the spotlight with her product launch on QVC. Between then and now, Mangano has accrued 100 patents (for products like the Huggable Hanger and My Little Steamer) and her company, Ingenious Designs is worth over $50million.

This story was told in Hollywood by David O.Russell in 2015 with his Golden Globe winning movie, Joy. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Mangano served to highlight the difficulty of entrepreneurship and instruct on the minefield of patent disputes.

Mangano's latest product is one she says she's been working on for her entire life: a journal, a manual and a self-help for entrepreneurs wrapped up in her book, Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave and Creative Life.

SWAAY spoke with Mangano about the necessity for this kind of book in this age of entrepreneurship, and how it will resonate with aspiring female inventors and change-makers.

Drawing on her success and the pains it took to get there, Mangano has penned a book that will no doubt be a bible for those looking to take their flying Barbies or futuristic footballs to market. "I️ believe it will be a resource for people they can keep coming back to," she remarks. "This book truly is a lesson for anybody - in their careers, no matter what age."

Her family have been crucial to the whole process of building her brand and expanding Ingenious Designs, for the last 17 years, and have informed many of the chapters in the book. "I️ am fortunate enough to work with my children, family and friends and they were completely integral (to the books production)," says Mangano. Her daughter Christie serves as SVP Brand Development, Merchandising & Marketing Strategy having worked with her mom for thirteen years. “She's my left brain," laughs Mangano. Both her son Bobby and other daughter Jackie have worked elsewhere before also coming under their mother's umbrella. Bobby currently serves as Executive Vice President of the company and Jackie is involved with the fashion side of the business, which is certainly no mean feat, as she is also involved in styling for the upcoming reboot of The Murder on the Orient Express.

"When you can do things in life - work and follow your passion with people you love - it makes it all that much more meaningful and pure happiness."

The launch of her book signals new territory for the serial inventor, who has her first opportunity to tour the country and speak to those whose homes she has appeared in for the past 15 years on QVC and HSN.

"This is really one of my dreams," she comments. "I️'ve always wanted to go around the country and meet all of my customers and this is one way to do that. It couldn't be better."

"95% of my customers are women so I️ can't help but be an advocate always."

While on tour, Mangano is destined to meet a host of people that will tell her of their inventions or start-up ideas, but none more so than the millennials, who are completely reinventing the notion of entrepreneurship. Mangano hopes that through the book aspiring female entrepreneurs will be able to take solace in the fact they don't have to do it all. "I️ truly believe - this is a generation I️ watch, a lot of them work for me and with me - today, more than ever, they think they have to do it all."

"Dressed beautifully and in a meeting, they'll say 'I've been up since 5. Dressed the kids. Fed the kids.' And then (after work) they'll come home, have quality time, bath time. And I️ say - you can miss a game." If there's one thing she would invent for millennial women, it's this very advice, she says.

Rather than a product, or an item, it's this advice that, contrary to the millennial mindset, you don't have to be five places at one time or working 20-hour days to get where you want to be. Instead, Mangano has sections of the book that will inform on how better to manage your time and your ideas - to employ her methods - so you can become successful with (a little) less stress.

When asked how social media and the digital age has influenced her real-world inventions (like mops, hangers, steamers and pillows), Mangano chuckles. Technology, rather than impairing the invention of real world application actually opens up a 'wider range' tells the inventor. “It opens up a direct - to - consumer feedback and enhances your platform."

"With Instagram and Facebook my customers communicate with me. That's critical for looking at what you do and for the future of what you do."

Out of the dozens of things she's invented, Mangano won't say what her favorite is. "What am I️ most proud of? That's hard to say - that's like asking what child do you love the most and I️ don't think I️ could be prouder of any of them."