Creating A “Human First” Business: Insights, Inclusion, and Impact

August 12, 2022



Creating A “Human First” Business: Insights, Inclusion, and Impact

Creating A “Human First” Business: Insights, Inclusion, and Impact

Ali Azeem, the Global Head of Growth at Ipsos Strategy3, has always believed in making an impact through involvement across the three professional realms--corporate, government, and charity. He shares his career journey as he has developed greater insights into human behavior—from customers and constituents to business colleagues—leading to his increasing focus on and interest in creating organizations that are “human first”.


[02:40] Ali is raised by entrepreneurial parents.

[03:09] Ali’s early interest in business models through video games.

[04:37] Going through a turnaround after the credit crunch.

[06:45] Learning the importance of communication with colleagues, especially during times of stress.

[08:47] Ali believes in making a positive impact across three parallel streams – business, politics, and charity.

[10:18] How Ali found being involved in politics exciting.

[11:39] The human realities of government—good and bad.

[15:30] Working at an innovation agency, Ali began empathizing with customers to tap into their experiences.

[18:54] Recognizing cultural differences when exploring new ideas.

[22:09] Ali joins Ipsos which emphasizes human insights using a design-thinking approach.

[24:22] Discussion involving people and empathy converging into a new type of organization.

[26:50] Initiatives that must accompany diversity efforts to demonstrate inclusive leadership.

[30:20] The challenges measuring inclusion.

[31:38] How business leaders can shift their mindsets to be more inclusive.

[35:20] The importance of recognizing that employees bring very different backgrounds and cultural contexts and how to enable them to be successful.

[39:42] Ali’s insights after analyzing data on gender pay gaps.

[43:07] Insight 1 – The pay gap in the UK relates to mothers rather than women in general.

[44:21] Insight 2 – Women aren’t achieving as many of the higher paid senior positions.

[45:21] Career choices many women make in corporate roles don’t often have enough flexibility.

[47:24] What many men thing of as “the proper life’ and the consequences.

[49:05] How motherhood impacts women’s earning capacity.

[50:08] New positive UK legislation regarding parental leave.

[51:05] The mindset shift supported by the legislation.

[53:40] Ali recommends we create more prosperity by making better machines and focusing on a people-maximizing approach.

[55:58] Thinking about meaningful corporate purpose.

[58:10] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Start with the right mindset. The biggest unlock will come if you take ownership of making your life better, your customers’ lives better, and the lives of people impacted indirectly by your company.


“Often companies are talking about diversity, focusing more on the diversity side, because it’s easier, it’s measurable.”

“Hiring these [diverse] people is quite an easy job relative to the much harder thing which is to make them feel included.”

“Let’s start building better machines.”

“We need to evolve from what we’ve been doing before and that means moving away from this profit-maximizing approach to a people-maximizing approach.”