Hilary Richters: “I thought everyone was perfect except me”

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Hillary Richter

She is lead digital ethics at Deloitte, but is also a guest speaker, supervisor and creator of the Deloitte initiative the Panel & Proposal promise, which means that we apply the 40/40/20 rule for every proposal and in every panel that Deloitte participates in ( 40% male, 40% female and 20% unrepresented group). NL News of the Week Hilary Richters is not only versatile, she also really stands for something.

Within Deloitte, Hilary is responsible for the subject of Digital Ethics: the ethics of data and technology. In other words: together with her team, she helps organizations in various ways to develop and deploy digital solutions in a responsible and ethical (inclusive) way. “With our work, we also show organizations that developing inclusive digital solutions also offers opportunities for the organization: satisfied (new) customers, satisfied employees, etc. It is important, however, that the management of an organization must be open to this and it ‘really ‘ must want.

Inclusivity

“I don’t believe that people who develop digital solutions develop something to do bad. Basically, everyone wants to do well. But, we can achieve so much more with technology: people often don’t think about the diversity that the world is rich in, but on which technology does have an impact. This creates the risk that people may be negatively affected by the technology. Consider, for example, that the dataset used is not representative. Data has often been collected in the past for a specific purpose, which means that not all target groups are (proportionately) included in the dataset. Technology is also about the small details, which must also be taken into account.”

Hilary’s team helps develop Digital Ethics strategies, among other things, as well as governance, with developer questionnaires, assembling ethics boards, and developing and delivering training. “The goal is to create inclusive, digital solutions and that organizations have enough confidence to take responsibility for this.” That’s what Hilary does on the one hand, but there’s another important part of her job. “I am committed to inspiring women for a role in tech, but also to inspire underrepresented groups for a job within coperate organizations.

Hillary Richter

Inclusivity is now higher on the agenda of more companies than before, Hilary also sees that. “I also see that in a positive sense at Deloitte, and also at many other organizations”. Ultimately, we are dealing with people, individuals. Every individual has their own needs and to a certain extent it is important that organizations take this into account. People want to feel ‘at home’ within the organisation.

Hilary has had a very cool career so far to eventually get to the position where she is now. “I studied accountancy in the distant past, but the profession did not suit me. However, I was well into my studies and I knew that having a degree was important. After obtaining my accountancy diploma, I saw a vacancy for a financial investigator and that fascinated me. I have always had a great sense of justice, especially towards those whose voices are the least loud. I was hired and learned a lot: I focused on digital investigations.”

After two years, Hilary switched to Deloitte Forensic. “I loved my work within the criminal investigation department, but I was also very ambitious and impatient and was ready for the next step”. Within Deloitte Forensic, I focused on digital investigation. I did that for 3, 4 years and then it tickled: is this it? What more do I want? Within Deloitte you have the opportunity to try out various activities and I made use of this. I have done internal audit work, where I have gained a lot of international experience. After that I went back to the type of assignments that started my career with ‘data and digitization’.

At work I had a great time, my work went well and I was surrounded by a large group of talented employees who gave me a lot of energy. Despite all this, at the end of 2017 I experienced that I had to take a step back, it turned out to be a burnout. I thought everyone was perfect except me. After more than a year I was 100% back.

During that period I asked myself: how did I get into this, what do I actually want, but also: what is stopping me from growing further?

By now I have learned that my imperfections are my strength. And, I’ve learned to focus on work that I’m good at and work that represents who I am ‘Digital Ethics’. A great combination of data, technology, justice and inclusion.”

Falling is progress

Hilary has learned to deal with her fears. “You have to overcome your fears, that goes by trial and error, because otherwise you don’t know which doors will open for you. I sincerely support the subject of ‘Digital Ethics’: it is my passion, it is in my DNA and I live it. I have done new things, learned and more beautiful doors have been opened. I am lucky that I had the support of people around me. Ups and downs are part of growth and progress, not decline.”

Her advice for women in tech. “Be curious about the unknown and just try it. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just do something else? And when you have reached your next step, reach out to the next woman to help her in her next step. We can achieve so much if we join forces.”

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