Leading the charge for diversity transformation

Posted on 12/12/2018

By Lorna Hardie, Regional Director Sub-Saharan Africa at VMware

Even though many organisations are willing to embrace change when it comes to technological innovation, some remain hesitant when this change relates to diversity and inclusion. It has become far too easy for businesses to remain stuck in their comfort zones when hiring the same type and gender for specific roles inside the company. So, what can be done to change this?

For one, having the right leadership in place to redefine the benchmarks for this diversity and inclusion is essential if change is to happen.

Just ticking the boxes and doing things the traditional way is limiting the growth potential of the organisation. When you appoint the same kinds of people to do the same kind of work, should you really be surprised if nobody thinks outside the box?

Just the facts

Let’s consider some of the research.

A Forbes Insights Global Diversity and Inclusion report has found that diversity is a key driver of innovation and is essential to global success. The same survey also found that having a diversity strategy in place can only really be successful if the leadership provides oversight and accountability. Unfortunately, the report found that only 35% of organisations were prioritising change in diversity over the next three years.

And then there is the ‘What Women Want – And Why You Want Women – In the Workplace’ report by the Center for Creative Leadership. It found that respondents from organisations with a higher percentage of women felt that their companies performed better when it came to job satisfaction, organisational dedication, burnout, and employee engagement.

That’s just one of many that showcase the benefits of diversity across culture, age, gender, and race.

Taking the next step

Embracing diversity doesn’t have to be the insurmountable obstacle many make it out to be. Take VMware as an example. Diversity and inclusion were embedded within the culture and employee structure from the day we were founded in 1998, our CEO at the time – Diane Greene -leading the charge.

This different way of thinking has permeated the DNA of our business with more than 50% of our executive management roles across EMEA today filled by women. Compared to some of the other old school technology businesses out there, this progressive employment strategy certainly stands out.

Perhaps more importantly, it shows the influence a diverse leadership can have in redefining the culture of the organisation. Having representation across gender, culture, age, and race are powerful enablers to drive engagement and commitment in the organisation from the top down.

While it might sound basic, one of the benefits this brings is that employees feel they are in a company that respects their differences and engages with them as people, not just as professionals. Just consider this for a second. This shift has far reaching, positive consequences for the business across the board.

Force for change

Even better, the impact that diversity has on mentorship and individual growth is immeasurable. This creates a ripple effect that spreads across not only the business, but potentially the industry as well.

For our part, VMware has a focused diversity programme that runs globally, focusing on supporting people from all walks of life. Through this programme, our leadership is encouraged to recognise diversity in local teams, recognise the challenges in the market, and be the people who drive change – all things that are exceptionally close to my own heart.

Businesses need to realise that every person at the company has something unique to bring to the table. Being cognisant of the perspectives introduced by a cross-section of people inside the organisation allows for fresh and innovative approaches to traditional problems.

By pushing people out of their comfort zones a culture of disruptive and dynamic thinking is created within the company. Those companies that have already embraced this new approach to diversity are already seeing the benefits play out with a more innovative way of doing business.

Fortunately, this mindset has already permeated the technology industry with more women taking on leadership roles, kicking off impressive start-ups, and shifting the boundaries of expectation.


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