YakBit - making inclusion in the workplace matter

by Celina Bledowska, on 17 May 2022

Educator Mary-Jo Hill explains how YakBit can revolutionise workplace inclusion ahead of her conference speech.

Having taught in education for 25 years and worked as an advisor, and then later as a leadership coach. Mary-Jo realised that many in the classroom have difficulty in having their voices heard. She also acknowledged that adults in the workplace, during meetings and other events do not have the courage or encouragement to express their feelings and for sure, many voices shout louder and more frequently than others. Just take a look at Amanda Blanc’s recent meeting experience at Aviva!.

From school to work

“YakBit evolved through my observation that, in a classroom, I needed to learn what is the best way to engage all in a teaching and listening forum, and how this can be managed to better effect.”

Having completed a MBA at the UEA, and taken part in the UEA Business Enterprise Start Up week, Mary-Jo decided that she wanted to use tech to analyse speech patterns and promote inclusivity in the workplace.

Tech to the rescue

Those who feel marginalised and are less confident will benefit from YakBit. Research shows that there is a need to measure real time inclusion. This carries through from the educational environment right through to the workplace.

By using speech analytics, AI, and machine learning to increase awareness of how people talk and listen in a meeting space. Mary-Jo stresses that YakBit is still in its infancy but is examining ways to use insight to make meetings more effective. The AI will also be able to register silences as well as speech - who is speaking, who isn’t and then analysis can assess why this is so. The aim is to “ensure that there is core participation and there are structures and systems in place so those who are less confident become more engaged.”

Testing the methodology

YakBit is now trialling the MVP with a creative agency in Norwich, with AI expertise on the Board. Smart Grant Funding for further R&D is vital to move this forward. By talking at the conference Mary-Jo hopes that members of the tech community will contribute, with their thoughts, ideas, expertise and knowledge.

The future

Corporations who might wish to adopt YakBit, include those early adopters, “who value equality and inclusion.”’ She is also very aware that companies that, potentially, could benefit from this programme, will be nervous. On the positive side “many industries have a mandate to report on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.” Mary-Jo values all Norfolk Networks and colleagues here to find companies interested in adopting YakBit.

To hear more about this intriguing project, come along to Mary-Jo’s talkTo hear more about this intriguing project, come along to Mary-Jo’s talk

The eastern region's biggest tech conference, on 16th & 17th June 2022

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The eastern region's biggest tech conference, on 16th & 17th June 2022