Partner business manager, HP Inc.
What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?
Collaboration. Both in the IT industry and cross-industry collaboration is needed to really move the dial on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and share best practice. No one company can drive meaningful change across a whole industry alone, and it would be great to see the IT industry coming together to tackle the challenges around progressing DEI. Recently, the HP Pride Impact Network organised a joint roundtable with Microsoft to raise awareness of the challenges the LGBTQ+ community can face, and actions to be an effective ally. The conversation was honest and incredibly impactful by providing a platform for people to share their perspectives and experience, and allowing participants to learn. We should be doing more together.
What do you believe are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?
Employee run networks; at HP we call them Impact Networks. They are a fantastic initiative to promote diversity and inclusion and can be real strategic partners to the wider company DEI efforts. They are employee led and formed around a common social identity (LGBTQ+, gender, race, ethnicity, age and so on). HP UK has four Impact Networks for LGBTQ+, Women, Multicultural and Next Generation, all effective in driving specific DEI initiatives such as training, roundtables, mentoring opportunities, diverse recruitment, toolkits and programmes for HP employees to join, learn and upskill themselves towards creating an inclusive environment where diversity is championed. The Impact Networks are supported by an executive sponsor, our UK&I MD, and a UK&I DEI board that help the Impact Networks to amplify their work.
How much progress do you believe the industry has made in diversity since you started working in IT?
Steady progress. When I look back to when I was an intern, I can see a real positive shift within the IT sector on the important of DEI. However, we are a long way from being a truly representative and diverse industry.
What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?
Spotlight the business case for diversity. The business case for diversity and inclusion is undeniable and countless studies show how companies with diverse teams outperform their peers that lack diversity. I would love to see more senior management leading from the front - ensuring company core values spotlight diversity and inclusion, and publishing and setting ambitious measurable DEI goals. However, something as simple as sharing this report with your employees to learn what executives and non-executives are doing to create a more inclusive industry is a great place to start to ignite the conversation around DEI.
How did you first get into the IT industry?
It was all down to HP's intern programme, and I have a lot to thank for it. I look back at my early career aspirations and I had never planned to have a career in the IT industry (stereotypically, I always thought I'd end up in fashion). HP's intern programme allowed me to see the IT industry as a great place to grow my career, where I could have an impact, be myself and constantly grow. I genuinely believe that internships, apprenticeships and graduate schemes are a fantastic way to attract diverse, young talent to the IT industry and it's been great to see the expansion of these programmes across both vendors and resellers over the years!
What have been some of your experiences (both good and bad) with how the IT industry has historically approached diversity?
Previously, I've witnessed a narrative around DEI that didn't take into consideration or focus on the LGBTQ+ community. The good news is what I've seen over the last five years is some significant movements in DEI, and companies appreciating more the challenges LGBTQ+ employees can face and proactively looking at how a company can instil a culture of allyship - which goes beyond just the month of June. Industry recognition like the CRN Women in Channel Awards is a great example of how an event that celebrates achievements of women in the channel ecosystem also has an important role, spotlighting and tackling gender diversity. It is really encouraging to see the awards this year be relaunched as Women and Diversity in Channel Awards, championing women and other diverse talent. The impact of this will be significant by showcasing the achievements and the business case of diverse teams.
Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life, and how have they helped you to succeed?
As cliché as it sounds, I have been so lucky to work with and been mentored by some exceptional leaders at HP. They have all pushed me to fully embrace the differences I bring to the organisation and use these as a strength to drive innovation and impact while giving me the confidence to be authentically myself. Has it always been easy for you to be open about your identity in the workplace? Honestly, no and that is more of a reflection on my personal journey I had to go on to feel comfortable to be ‘out', rather than the people I work with or my workplace. I can honestly say that everyone I have come across in the IT industry, whether that be in HP or with our partners, have been extremely supportive. However, I am fully aware that isn't the reality for everyone and many struggle for years or never make the decision to come ‘out' at work, which is why I really believe there is power in what more we can do as an industry to drive DEI.
What can employers do to create a more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ staff?
Visibility is a powerful method to create a more inclusive workplace. By making allyship visible through rainbow ally lanyards and/or ally laptop stickers may seem small, but it has a huge impact for someone who identifies as LGBTQ+. When I see the HP employees, especially the leadership team wearing their rainbow ally lanyards, not only does it demonstrate to me they are a champion of DEI but also that I can speak to them about any issues or concerns.