Companies need diverse, global talent. Cryptocurrencies are here to help.

The global population is becoming more diverse. As a result, if companies in developed economies don't diversify their hiring, they may lose out on crucial talent. Cryptocurrencies are here to help.

This series on diversity and inclusion is sponsored by Amway, which supports a prosperous economy through having a diverse workplace. Companies committed to diversity and inclusion are better equipped to innovate and drive performance. For more information, visit

If companies in developed economies want to continue to grow, they'll have to face an uncomfortable fact: the talent pool they've traditionally relied on will be shrinking for generations to come.

That's because economically developed countries are experiencing historically low birth rates. And as wealthy nations grow richer, fewer citizens are deciding to have children.

Leading reasons for this decline include increased costs of living, more social and business opportunities for women, and better health care which affords people the opportunity to live longer.

That trend is reversed in poorer nations where birth rates remain high and greater opportunity may lie elsewhere. Add to this the relative ease of modern transportation and communication, and the global population, i.e. the global workforce, is growing more diverse.

Snapshot of International Migrants

The international migrant population globally has increased in size but remained relatively stable as a proportion of the world's population. (UN World Migration Report 2018)

Migration patterns predominantly reflect economic realities. Countries that offer economic opportunity receive net migration inflows, while countries that do not will steadily lose a portion of their population. In 2015, the Congo ranked as the world's poorest nation and its population was composed of 545,000 immigrants; meanwhile, 1.3 million native Congolese had left the country. That same year, war-torn Afghanistan contained 382,000 migrants within its borders while 4.8 million native Afghanis had left.

At the same time, France was home to 7.7 million immigrants while 1.9 million native inhabitants had left. In Germany, there were 12 million immigrants and 4 million ex-patriots. And in the United States, 46.6 million immigrants lived within its borders, while just 2.9 million American-born had emigrated.

Of the 46.6 million immigrants living in the U.S., 25 million are employed and provide essential financial muscle to our nation. Immigrants participate in our labor force more than native-born citizens, yet earn less; there are more immigrant business owners than native-born, and immigrants start them at a higher rate; over half of the 87 private companies valued at over $1 billion were founded by immigrants.

Migration flow is likely to increase during turbulent times. Political instability and climate change disproportionately affect the world's poorest regions, putting them at an additional disadvantage when they look for better economic opportunity abroad. Refugee populations are perhaps the least stable of any migrant group and also the most desperate for new opportunity.

(UN World Migration Report 2018)

Many asylum seekers cannot be employed without a bank account. And if financial assets cannot be secured during grueling and uncertain travels, refugees' chances of integrating into a new society will suffer.

Turning a blind eye to refugee populations is not helping anyone, and the world is losing valuable human assets as a result. Cryptocurrencies offer one potential solution.

Banks and governments around the world are now investigating this technology. Its decentralization makes hacking into it virtually impossible. (“Block" and “chain" are the two components of the transaction ledger; “blockchain" conveniently describes this process.)

A foundational tenet of cryptocurrency is to offer everyone around the planet a safe place to store their money that is not dependent on any singular institution or government. Some organizations are betting blockchain will provide such access.

In recent years, for example, over 800,000 Rohingya (a predominantly Muslim group living in Buddhist Myanmar) have fled to live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. One crypto token, ExsulCoin, has implemented financial rewards for students in the camps, inspiring higher attendance and better grades to prepare the refugees to enter the workforce.

A visual representation of digital cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Dash, Monero, and Litecoin. Digital cryptocurrencies have seen unprecedented growth in 2017. (Chesnot/Getty Images)

Recently Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin donated $1 million to aid the world's “extreme poor," to be used by refugees to start businesses.

The donation will go towards a GiveDirectly campaign in Uganda aimed at providing more than 12,000 refugee households with a grant to change their life by enabling business growth and other opportunities fueled by investment.

Opening in 2013, the charity, GiveDirectly, has raised over $200 million for refugees. The organization is exploring more opportunities with blockchain technology to provide direct access to those in need from donors.

At a time when some governments have balked at using cryptocurrencies, the Finnish government has turned to blockchain as a way to accept a large number of immigrants.

A Helsinki-based start-up, MONI, has provided prepaid Mastercards and now believes that crypto accounts will allow digital identification and safe storage for their money, which can more easily be transferred to local currency if need be. Since many immigrants don't have legal identification, even the United Nations is exploring blockchain that would provide them with a digital identity.

There will likely be a skills gap between asylum seekers without so much as a bank account and multinational corporations seeking highly trained professionals to innovate their business. But global migration flows cannot be ignored as a source of potentially valuable employees.

Ignoring individuals that don't fit the typical mold of a model worker risks losing out on innovative talent, and falls victim to prejudices that tell us, for example, the economically disadvantaged have less to contribute to society.

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Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.

A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.

Rethinking humanity's origin story

The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.

David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.

The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.

Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"

He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.

"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."

Migrating out of Africa

In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.

Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.

The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.

The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.

Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.

Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.

Did we head east or south of Eden?

Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.

Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.