The Conversations Changing our Company

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Last week, we celebrated Juneteenth – the emancipation of slavery here in the U.S. I personally reflected on how it took more than two years for the news of freedom to spread throughout the country, following the Emancipation Proclamation. Many former slaves had already been freed by June 19, 1865, but on that day, the last remaining slaves in Texas finally achieved their freedom. And so the journey to equality began.

The past few weeks have been overwhelming and have revealed some hard truths: about our country, our company and ourselves. And while it’s clear there are problems we need to fix, I have never felt so inspired by the collective desire to take action and do better. In his letter to team members, Michael Dell talked about the importance of listening and the role we all play in creating change. We have since taken the time to have tough conversations, listen and identify with intention the key areas where we can make the biggest impact. In our discussions, our Black team members – current and future – have been our focus. The way our valued team members show up at work and in their communities is important to us and how we deliver as a company.

To build on these conversations, we have pulled leaders together from across our business. All with the goal of identifying where we have room to build on our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, be a more inclusive company and address one of the root causes of systemic racism: socioeconomic disparity.

Solving for socioeconomic disparity won’t happen overnight. It will take an ongoing, never-ceasing commitment across our entire company to remove racial bias, increase representation, champion inclusive policies, and support the Black community in and outside our four walls. Our executive leadership will remain accountable for these commitments – ensuring diverse hiring, retention, development and promotion, as well as the inclusion of diverse team members in succession planning.

We are in the early stages, and we know we won’t win until our entire workforce can win. Here are just some of the first steps we are taking:

Living up to our inclusive culture

  • As of August 1, we are expanding our foundational unconscious bias training, which is available to all team members, to include specific anti-racism content.
  • We will be adding anti-racism training as mandatory curriculum for all team members as part of our annual, worldwide ethics and integrity training.
  • We’re also enabling all team members to participate in the fight against racial injustice and socioeconomic disparity. We have identified five causes with a proven track record of positive impact and who have demonstrated an ability to create measurable change: Black Lives Matter, National Urban League, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), Amnesty International and 100 Black Men of America. And Dell Technologies will match every team member donation, dollar for dollar up to $10,000 per team member per year, with the goal to contribute $1M in support of these change-making organizations.
  • We are providing a framework for advocacy, giving team members the tools to help push forward legislation to help combat racial bias and socioeconomic disparities.

Bring in more underrepresented minority talent

  • We will scale our existing partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority serving institutions (MSIs), which have contributed to the diverse makeup of our summer intern program. Twenty-seven percent of our U.S. interns who joined us this June are Black or Hispanic, and 10 percent come to us from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
  • We will broaden our recruiting efforts to include community colleges and apprenticeship programs for roles that require a 2-year vs. 4-year degree. This is important because not everyone coming out of high school can afford a 4-year college education. We must source diverse talent and create opportunity everywhere, if we are going to close the digital and opportunity divide.

Make progress on progression

  • We will increase focus on sponsorship, introducing a new program where senior leaders work with HR to identify high potential diverse talent through their talent review process. Both will complete formal training before working together for one year, providing diverse talent with increased visibility and opportunities aligned to their professional goals. Our first pilot of this program in July will challenge 100 percent participation from the executive sponsors of employee resource groups.
  • We will provide access for all team members to our existing technical certifications and training so they have the option of reskilling to pursuing alternate career paths within the company. We will offer this same training through our diversity partners to external talent, giving Black communities and communities of color access to skills they need to pursue STEM jobs, helping to solve the very real global technology talent shortage.

These first steps represent the conversations we’re having internally. We must also advocate for systemic change and bridge access to technology, education and jobs – starting with closing the Digital Divide. We are currently looking to take part in large-scale programs that give access to healthcare, education and economic opportunity. These programs will help solve major gaps in our society by bringing together technology, solutions, more aggressive financing and broadband connectivity.

We know we have work to do. Today our senior leadership does not reflect the diversity of the people we serve. It’s why in November we announced our moonshot goal to have 40 percent of our people leaders globally be those who identify as female by 2030. And 15 percent of U.S. people leaders will be Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino minorities by 2030. We know establishing these goals alone is not enough, but it’s an important step that holds us accountable. One thing we know about our culture is if it gets measured, it gets done.

We will keep the dialogue going with the annual release of our Social Impact and Diversity & Inclusion Reports in July. And we will hold each other accountable for getting it done and moving the world in a direction where “all boats rise.”

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.
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