co-authored by Aongus Hegarty, President of International Markets
Every year on March 8, we come together globally to celebrate International Women’s Day. This is a time to recognize incredible women who have made an impact on society and played a key role in driving human progress. It’s also a time to discuss what we can do to achieve gender equity and drive a more inclusive world.
That’s why this year’s theme, Choose to Challenge, is so important to us. It’s about taking an active role to challenge gender bias and call out inequality. Roles like “ally,” “mentor” or “sponsor.”
By taking action, we can build a workforce that better reflects the customers we serve – getting us closer to our moonshot goal of having a workforce that is 50 percent women and leadership that is 40 percent women by 2030. Here’s how.
Addressing the challenges we face
We must address the critical challenges of today to accomplish our big goals and move the needle on gender equity. One of those challenges is the disproportionate rate at which women are leaving the workforce globally. Global job loss due to COVID-19 is impacting women 1.8 times more than men. In the U.S. in December, women lost 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000 jobs. This exodus of women was recently described as a national emergency by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
At Dell Technologies, we are not immune to the challenges presented by the pandemic. Working parents – especially women – have struggled. We’ve heard this firsthand in the pandemic support groups our team members organically formed to discuss what it’s been like to navigate this “new normal.” And though we have not seen the type of decline at Dell that we’re seeing in the broader workforce, we know there’s a lot of work to do if we’re going to keep women moving forward and into leadership positions.
Flexibility and support are here to stay
Work like our flexible workplace and re-imagined benefits to support working parents. Before the pandemic, 65 percent of team members worked flexibly and 30 percent worked remotely on any given day. We shifted that to 90 percent in a weekend. Our longstanding commitment to a flexible workplace culture served us well during that transition, as the lines of work and life continued to blur. We knew how to give team members the space and time they needed to deal with life’s demands. And above all, we empowered them with choice and trust.
Though the benefits of remote work are clear, flexibility is not the only answer to addressing the challenges working parents face. That’s why in 2020 we added or extended benefits like our caregiving benefit and our childcare, tutoring and learning pod solutions. This won’t take away from the demands on working parents – but we hope it provides some support as we all navigate this new way of working.
Our employee resource groups (ERGs) are also key to our supportive, inclusive culture – we have a goal to reach 50 percent ERG participation for the company by 2030. We’re at 43 percent, up from 33 percent this time last year! In honor of International Women’s Day, it’s great to report that our Women in Action ERG grew 32 percent since last year.
Taking an active role in progression
On top of keeping women in the workforce, we must build representation at ALL levels.
Active roles – like allies, mentors and sponsors – are key. They’re also foundational to developing early to mid-career women at the company. One example is our Diversity Leadership Accelerator Program, a nine-month coaching and sponsorship program designed to help high-performing, mid-level leaders advance their careers at Dell. Following the most recent cohort, 25 percent of participants earned promotions and 29 percent expanded their responsibilities. We also focus on mentoring early- to mid-career professionals navigating career or life changes.
And we know we must start early if we are to build a pipeline of women talent. That’s why together with Microsoft and Intel, Dell Technologies created Girls Who Game, which provides an opportunity for young girls to learn more about gaming while developing global competencies, such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Coaches and mentors from Dell engage players to build their confidence. By the end, players have greater self-awareness and are empowered to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) – which helps address the impending global tech talent shortage of 4.3 million by 2030.
Lifting each other up and taking collective action is how we keep women in the workforce and moving up the ladder. So, for this International Women’s Day, let’s all choose to challenge each other to do our part to create a world where everyone can thrive.