Going beyond stereotypes – why we need to overcome preconceptions to build a diverse workforce

Posted on 05/02/2018 by blogsadmin
DISCLAIMER: this article is older than one year and may not be up to date with recent events or newly available information.

Growing up, most children have big, ambitious dreams about what they want to be. Whether it’s to be a police officer, film star, professional athlete or doctor, children are attracted to these professions by characteristics they feel they share or want to embody. It’s interesting how long these sort of preconceived notions can hold firm. They’re still in place for many when they look to enter the world of work, whether that’s as a school leaver or as a graduate. Consider the number of stereotypes in play when we look at different sectors – PR and marketing might be creative, fluffy; law and finance driven and high-pressured; technology full of geeks, predominantly male.

How often do we hear that people don’t even consider working in IT or the broader technology sector because they haven’t got a computer science degree, or didn’t go to university? It’s a challenge we need to overcome.  As Joe Baguley said in a post before VMworld Europe, ‘Businesses must…create an environment where people can be the best version of themselves and do their very best work…Often, this may mean breaking away from traditional approaches.’ When tradition means male, that means building for the future with a more diverse workforce.

At VMware, we are actively seeking new ways to attract and retain a diverse workforce. We want to continue to grow and enjoy ongoing success, and we know that can only be achieved by employing the best and brightest, irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity. To do that, we need to think about how we attract that ‘non-traditional’ talent. We must make sure that we’re offering a working environment that supports people from all backgrounds, whether it’s flexible or home working, mentoring programmes or having the right people in senior positions acting as role models. Our latest Carpool Tech Talk demonstrates how we try to look beyond the traditional technology talent pools to find people that we can support to make a difference – in the video, Kirsten Cox, VP Marketing for EMEA, and Liz Cane, head of HR for EMEA, talk about how they ended up in the sector. As you’ll see, each took a different route, with Liz having a degree in agriculture and Kirsten joining a graduate scheme.

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As Liz says, she’s benefited from a significant amount of structure and support which wasn’t always there in previous companies. It’s that backing which helps build an environment in which people from all backgrounds can flourish and succeed. In Joe’s post, he talks about technical field colleagues with degrees in philosophy or no formal education beyond school, whilst our VP and general manager for Northern Europe, David Parry Jones, has a degree in physics and worked on oil rigs and in teaching before moving into IT sales. There’s no ‘right’ career path, just as there’s no ‘right’ gender, race or ethnicity – what matters is finding people that can benefit from and contribute to a diverse, successful culture.

Want to know more? Visit our careers page to find the right role for you.


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