Programs

Building a More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Technology Ecosystem

Written by Shanis Windland, Vice President, Human Resources, VMware

Shanis Windland

Until recently, I served as the VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at VMware. Over the past three years in that role, I’ve seen VMware make tremendous strides toward being a company where all employees can succeed in their work. That’s due in no small part to the strong support of company executives and the grassroots actions of employees in numerous roles.

VMware has always strived to do the right things, an attitude that goes beyond the groundbreaking and trusted technology solutions it offers. It’s meant taking innovative approaches to embedding DEI into everything the company does in its strategy, programs, and business enablement. That’s because at VMware, we believe that diversity equals innovation. We continue to build a company that celebrates, builds on diversity, and brings that diversity together to empower people to succeed. That’s best for the company and everyone now and in the long term.

DEI Programs and Initiatives at VMware

We hear the acronym DEI a lot, especially with all that’s happened over the past few years. People often don’t fully understand what DEI encompasses. I think of DEI this way:

  • Diversity—the facts about who you are as a person (race, color, religion, sexual gender orientation, gender identification, disabled, veteran, and others).
  • Equity—ensuring that you can succeed in your role. This differs from equality. Equality is that everyone gets the exact same thing. Equity is about giving you the tools that you need to succeed, which may differ from person to person.
  • Inclusion—the everyday actions that ensure that every person’s voice is heard, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed and have a great career at VMware.

DEI is not just important to VMware; it should be a priority across all of technology. The more that the entire industry, including our partners, embraces DEI, the better the business and future we’re all building together. For example, at VMware we’re working with partners and customers on the Inspire Change track for VMworld 2021 that ties diversity to business outcomes.

VMware’s 2030 agenda is our environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) agenda. It addresses areas such as equitable pay, supplier diversity, technology accessibility, diverse hiring, inclusive leadership, and many others. It’s very grounded in business because we strongly believe that not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.

To track progress toward our 2030 agenda, we use a management by objectives (MBOs) model with dashboards. For example, by 2030, we aim to have at least 50 percent of our managers be women or from underrepresented groups. At VMware, we’re focusing a lot on equitable pay. We’re making great progress in that area. Accessibility is also a major part of the 2030 plan and activities. One of my favorite quotes related to accessibility comes from Sheri Byrne Haber, a leader at VMware who described the goal for accessibility at VMware as “any app, any place, any device, and any user.”

The VMinclusion Council is VMware’s global council of VP-level leaders from key business areas across the company. They regularly meet to discuss how the company can drive DEI in their areas.

The Power of Storytelling with VMware PODs

VPs across VMware are executive sponsors of our Power of Difference (POD) communities. These are grassroots organizations of VMware employees worldwide who are helping drive culture and change at the company. VMware PODs are based on demographics and location. For example, we have Black, Latino, Disability, LGBTQ+, Veterans, and other demographic-based PODs. We also have an India POD and other regional PODs that support many demographics such as being LGTBQ+ or a woman in India.

VMware employees can participate in PODs in many ways. For example, following the murder of George Floyd, the Black POD started a “Culture Club” that was all about storytelling, a known powerful way to create empathy for and learn about others. It was so meaningful. Employees submitted their stories about being Black in the United States, and then volunteers read the stories onscreen. It really opened people’s eyes to the experience of being Black in the U.S.

That storytelling format has been reused due to its profound impact. For example, our Asian POD used it to talk about their experiences with the Asian American violence that occurred after the start of the pandemic. And our Veterans POD shared their feelings about being in Afghanistan and working with the Afghani people following the recent pullout of all U.S. troops from that country. It provided a way for people in each community to connect and not feel alone. And it helped others build empathy and understanding.

Upcoming DEI Efforts

VMware is currently focusing on the Inspire Change track at VMworld, and we encourage all partners to attend. We also host the Women Transforming Technology (WT2) event each May, which is a great way to support women in technology. Our 2021 WT2 event featured keynote speakers Soledad O’Brien, the award-winning journalist and host of Matter of Fact, speaking with CNET Editor-in-Chief Connie Guglielmo. The “Mother of Robots,” Carol Reiley was also a keynote speaker. In the next few months, we’re opening up submissions for this free virtual event, and we encourage our partners to sponsor, present, and attend.

Learn More About DEI at VMware

Leadership at VMware remains focused on advancing DEI success. One of the best ways to learn about our DEI efforts is by reading the VMware FY21 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report. If partners want to connect directly with our internal DEI team, we are happy to share what we’ve done and learned. We’ve met with partners who are setting up DEI at their company and walked them through the first steps to take.

We know that advancing DEI is not just about VMware; the tech ecosystem as a whole must work together on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment where all employees have the opportunity to succeed. The more we can support our partners and share our learnings and learn from them, the better for everyone.

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