Diversity and Inclusion: Focusing on the Power of Difference

Posted on 07/08/2019

Female professionals and executives are in high demand everywhere, not just in IT companies.  VMware has therefore committed itself to greater diversity as part of its Equal Opportunity Initiative and is actively recruiting women in specialist and executive positions as part of its “Power of Difference” Program.

Women are still a minority in the world of IT, especially when it comes to technical professions and MINT subjects (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology).  But when talking to employees of VMware Germany, it becomes clear that the company has been putting a lot of effort into changing this in the future and creating an environment with greater gender equality.  “As part of our VMware Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, we set a goal of having as much diversity in the company as we possibly can”, explains Svenja Habenschaden, Director Marketing for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at VMware.  “This reflects the core of our philosophy and our value system, and it benefits our products too, which are used all around the world by a wide variety of people.”  “Today, successful IT companies can no longer afford to be stereotyping job roles as “typical boy – typical girl”,” says Armin Müller, VP & Country Manager Germany at VMware.  “As father of three girls, I’m glad we have introduced a Girls Day at VMware where we aim to make girls more comfortable in typically male-dominated technical fields.”

Diversity is more than just lip service at the company, which is why VMware launched a coaching and mentoring program especially for women called “Women Connecting Women.”  This program aims to provide younger female employees in particular with support from more experienced female colleagues.  “A personal network can be helpful, both in the company and outside of it.  I think this is very important for broadening one’s horizon,” says Habenschaden, who has more than 20 years of professional experience, mainly in the IT industry.

VMware:  Opportunities for intercultural and international careers

Several departments whose ratio of women has increased significantly in recent years show that hiring women delivers results.  For Pia Weindl, who has been working for VMware as Associate Project Manager since February 2019, VMware is her first professional position after getting her bachelor’s degree.  A business economist and business psychologist by training, she gained her first work experience in a start-up but would also like to get a master’s in computer science at some stage.  “At VMware, I’m learning new things every day that accelerate my growth and complement my studies.”  At VMware, she appreciates the exciting projects and many opportunities to get involved, as well as the structure and security that a large enterprise offers compared to a start-up.  “The company opens up a lot of opportunities for intercultural work, which I find very exciting.  Although I’ve only been with the company for three months, I’ve already attended training events in London and Las Vegas,” says the Project Manager.

Maja Stojsavljevic, who grew up in Canada, got her bachelor’s degree in Italy and completed a master’s in Digital Business in Germany, also views the company’s international character and the resulting opportunities for employees as a real advantage.  “We travel a lot and interact a lot with teams in the United Kingdom, the USA and India, for example,” reports the project manager.  “If you want to gain experience in another country and work there for a while, you’ll find the right opportunities through our internal educational programs.”

Also Valentina Kulic has lived in numerous different countries for family reasons.  The business mathematician, who has been working at VMware as a program manager for three years, had already set her sights on the IT industry early on.  “IT is such a dynamic and exciting environment, and it’s so influential on our everyday lives.  I’ve always been interested in numbers, mathematics and logic, and as a fact-oriented person I don’t like beating around the bush,” she says.  Many of her friends and acquaintances also work in the IT field, which gave her valuable insights before joining VMware.

Women’s Careers:  Stay authentic and show resilience

Not all young women are that determined and enthusiastic about computer science and mathematics or natural science subjects.  This led VMware to start efforts to attract young people to MINT professions early on.  For two years now, the company has been running a diversity program called “Power of Difference” that, for example, organizes the Girls‘ Day, which introduces female students from 12 to 16 years to IT professions and VMware as a technology company.  The company also organizes the Women Students MINT Day, which, as the name suggests, is aimed at women studying mathematics or natural science subjects.  The program also goes to lecture halls and university graduate fairs and makes sure VMware is known as an employer of choice for graduates of various disciplines.

Despite strong efforts to attract women to the company, the share of women in technical and management positions could still be improved, especially in the traditionally technical departments.  Still, young female employees at VMware don’t let this discourage them: “Being a woman in an otherwise all-male meeting can also be an advantage.  I still have to work harder to get my voice heard, but despite my young age I think I manage it quite well using facts,” states Valentina Kulic.  As she says, it’s important to stay authentic.  “I haven’t had any negative experiences so far; I see support rather than competition,” confirms Maja Stojsavljevic.  And VMware Germany’s efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce have certainly paid off- everyone is in agreement that the diversity within their organization has helped them to be more innovative and that it gives them a strategic advantage unparalleled on the market.

 


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