Black History Month Events Cultivate Inclusion

As I reflect on Black History Month, I am humbled by the past and present accomplishments and sacrifices of Black women and men who have enabled human progress. As a beneficiary of this sacrifice, an African American man who was given the opportunity to earn education and career advancement, it is incumbent upon me to keep the momentum going and continue to open up opportunity for all. At Dell Technologies, we know the first step to opening opportunity for all is creating an inclusive environment where people want to work, team members feel they belong and our values reflect those of our customers.

Inclusive environments don’t just happen, they require strategy, time, and commitment from across the company. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a huge part of how we work to create an inclusive environment at Dell Technologies. ERGs connect team members around areas such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and backgrounds. The groups work to not only make those with shared experiences feel welcome, but also to educate those who are seemingly different to realize the many similarities we all share.

It was this effort to share experiences and culture that was such a pride point for me throughout Black History Month. Our Black Networking Alliance (BNA) ERG brought together team members from every race, religion and gender for events around the United Sates. These Black History Month events included luncheons with guest speakers and traditional “soul food”, student mentoring sessions, community service outings and so much more.  All events had a common focus to highlight the tremendous contributions people from the African Diaspora have made, and will continue to make, in society. I thank our BNA leaders for their leadership and commitment to building an inclusive environment where differences are respected, and our innovative spirit is unlocked.

Once this inclusive environment is established, we shift to looking at how we can recruit team members who bring diverse perspectives to the business. Having a diverse team is not a nice to have, it’s a business imperative. We are living in a time that is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Every industry, in every part of the world, is becoming a technology industry. Due to this shift, we’re in the midst of a technical skills shortage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million open computer science jobs in the US alone.

Businesses can’t continue to lean on the same set of homogenous workers – that’s created a labor shortage. Businesses also can’t continue to fight for the same finite set of diverse employees to ensure their company is seeing challenges from every perspective and finding the most innovative solutions.  In Silicon Valley as a whole, Blacks and Hispanics make up between 3 percent and 6 percent of workers, and women of color are 1 percent or less. These are the underrepresented populations we must train, recruit and retain to lessen the skills shortage and drive innovation and exceptional business outcomes.

At Dell Technologies, we have laid the groundwork to do just that. Here are just a few initiatives we have in place to foster inclusion and increase diversity.

  • We have a Global Diversity Council that is a senior executive group responsible for driving Dell Technologies’ diversity & inclusion strategy. Diversity & Inclusion efforts need to come from the top. We are fortunate to have Michael Dell serving as the council chair.
  • We’re looking at how technology, including AI and ML, can eliminate unconscious bias from the talent continuum which encompasses everything from talent identification through hiring through career advancement.
  • We are the first in our industry to roll out unconscious bias trainings company-wide to educate our teams on the biases we all have that can unintentionally harm work culture and business performance.
  • We have programs in place with partners to build a diverse STEM talent pipeline, including Align and Reboot Representation.
  • We are a member of coalitions committed to equal advancement for all including Catalyst CEO Champions for Change, the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion coalition, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
  • We currently have more than 37,000 employees who are part of at least one ERG. We have ERGs in 60+ countries around the world.

At Dell Technologies, we believe diversity & inclusion is just as important, if not arguably more important, than research and development to the future success of our company. We want Dell to be the employer of choice for ALL, where every voice is heard equally. Happy Black History Month, and thanks to all for being on this journey with us.

About the Author: Brian Reaves

Brian Reaves was previously the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Dell, responsible for Dell’s global diversity and inclusion initiatives.