There is a significant gender gap in the tech industry, which is a largely male dominated space.
Dell’s vice president and managing director Tim Griffin discusses the importance of highlighting this gap, what Dell is doing to improve matters, and how the talent pool of female IT professionals is apprently dropping.
Griffin: When searching the internet, the word ‘diversity’ brings up 219 million hits, spanning a variety of definitions that include phrases from ‘inclusion’ to ‘differences’.
There is no one-size-fits-all practice of diversity. I’m personally very aware of the fact that the technology industry has a greater challenge than most as we work in a traditionally male dominated sector. In fact, the talent pool of female IT professionals has been decreasing over the years and the number of female CIOs remains at around 11 per cent worldwide.
Awareness needs to translate into action. It’s not enough to just talk about encouraging women in the workplace – it’s vital that leaders are the drivers of this change. Leadership teams need to fundamentally understand that the inclusion of female talent at every level is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ but that diverse teams drive tangible business benefits.
This helps the rest of the organisation feel a stronger sense of purpose and activate opportunities to encourage and promote the inclusion of female talent.
We know what we need to do and we’ve taken an approach called the Legacy of Good, comprising of 21 ambitious goals. The plan includes our focus on diversity and inclusion, and outlines our objective to engage 40 per cent of our workplace in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that support a diverse workforce by 2020.
For example, our women’s ERG, Wise, aims to create a stronger gender balance across Dell and provide opportunities for women in the workplace.
Through Wise, we have launched mentoring programmes designed to recognise key talent, offering training and development opportunities for women in the workplace as well as opportunities for team members of both genders to provide feedback and suggestions to the leadership team to improve inclusiveness within the organisation. This programme also extends to the wider community, with members of the Dell team speaking about careers in IT to help encourage girls into the industry.
But it’s important to note that gender imbalance is not an issue for women alone to address. We recently became the first in the IT industry to sign up to Catalyst’s Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) pilot, a six-month initiative that fosters a learning community for men committed to achieving gender equality in the workplace.
This forum lets us engage in candid conversations about the role of gender in the workplace and gives us the opportunity to share advice, insights, and best practices to inspire men who wish to expand gender diversity within their organisations. I have been fortunate to be among the Dell leaders participating in the six-month intensive program and look forward to sharing my experiences inside Dell.
Diversity is also not just a gender issue. We need to make sure that our team is truly reflective of the very diverse marketplace in which we operate. To help this goal, we’ve set up a number of additional ERGs, such as Pride,
Building Relationships in Diverse Group Environments (BRIDGE), Adelante, and Asians in Motion. These ERGs aim to help team members from all backgrounds find a welcoming and communicative home within Dell. We need to get to the point where diversity is not about being activists; it’s about simply being honest and being a part of an inclusive environment.
In the future, it would be amazing to work in a world where every organisation is taking action, every leadership team is guiding by example and individuals are becoming driving forces for change. Until that day, we will continue to focus on activating change within Dell and being an active part of the conversation to keep pushing for better female representation at every level of our industry.