Cultivating inclusion: Growing female talent in the workforce

Monday, 8 March, is International Women’s Day that has been celebrated for over a century. Still, progress needs to be made in society and business. This article by Natasha Reuben (Head of Transformation, Dell Technologies South Africa) throws light on how Dell Technologies is cultivating female talent externally through STEM education and internally using their 2030 Progress Made Real goals and other projects to nurture and grow female talent from within.

In an annual study produced by the World Bank titled “Women, Business and the Law 2021” the gender inequality amidst the global Covid-19 Pandemic is explored looking at eight key pillars. The pillars are mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension. The report analyses laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunities in 190 countries and shows promising results. 

Results show that despite the difficulties of the global pandemic, many economies have made gender equality a priority. The results are encouraging with every region surveyed improving its average score.

Looking at the scoring in the index, countries ranked at 100 out of 100 show true gender parity across all eight pillars. Looking to the Sub-Saharan region over the past 50 years the region has seen a gain in more than 30 points.

The countries in Sub Saharan Africa with the highest scores are, Mauritius scoring 91.9 out of 100, South Africa scoring 88.1 out of 100 and Zimbabwe scoring 86.9 out of 100. However, the region shows huge variations in scores, with Sudan being ranked last with a score of 29.4 out of 100. Overall scores are encouraging, but progress still needs to be made in South Africa in areas like access to pensions and parenthood.

Progress can be made in organisations through setting achievable goals aimed specifically at addressing gender equality.

Accountable goals: 2030 Progress Made Real

Dell Technologies’ 2030 Progress Made Real  report is built on ‘Advancing Sustainability’, ‘Cultivating Inclusion’ and ‘Transforming Lives’.  As part of our Progress Made Real plan to drive societal change by the year 2030, we have set ambitious measurement targets for gender representation, pledging that by 2030, 50% of our global workforce and 40% of our global people leaders will be those who identify as female. Also, by 2030, our goal is to ensure that 95% of employees receive training on crucial topics such as unconscious biases, harassment, microaggressions and privilege.

Beyond our own internal workforce, we are aiming to ensure that within the next decade, 50% of the beneficiaries of our philanthropic programming are women, girls, those who identify as being female and underrepresented groups.

Women empowerment starts with skills: STEM skills

Encouraging women and minorities to take part in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects to prepare them for STEM careers paves the way to a career in the Technology Industry. When it comes to delivering digital skills for the future workforce, Dell Technologies is rising to the challenge. Since 2014, we have donated more than $70 million to non-profits working to inspire individuals to learn, gain real skills, and pursue careers in STEM.

Our Solar-Powered Learning Labs are modular classrooms made from shipping containers, fully equipped with photovoltaic panels and energy efficient workspaces — and they have brought technology education to more than 17,000 students in underserved areas in South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Mexico and Colombia.

Initiatives such as Digital Futures also shows the power and efficacy of getting young people — especially girls — involved in conversations about tech early, while STEMAspire provides mentoring and support for women studying STEM subjects in university to support their transition from school to careers in technology after graduation.

Entering the workforce without bias or exclusion

Once women have completed their STEM education, they should be able to enter the workforce without bias or exclusion and this needs to be ensured through equitable recruitment. As women and minorities continue to enter the workforce, they are facing several barriers driven by unconscious bias. Businesses that hire for “team fit,” for instance, may think they are building a cohesive company culture, but in fact they are only making themselves less innovative and more homogenous. From exclusionary language in job postings to culturally prescribed notions of what “male” and “female” positions entail, unconscious bias works in subtle ways — and it carries a heavy price tag. The Kapor Centre calculated that turnover due to unfair and unequal treatment costs businesses $16 billion per year in employee replacement costs.

Once women have entered into the workforce in the technology field they should be empowered to apply their skills and grow, this can be done through mentorship and internal development programmes. Dell technologies opens doors through initiatives like Dell Career Re-Start and our Diversity Leadership Accelerator Program that ensure women at every stage in their careers can build their tech and business acumen—whether they are re-entering the workforce after taking time away or looking to take on a management role.

Women in leadership: Growing female talent

Empowered women need to give back and at Dell Technologies we encourage or female leaders to mentor up-and-coming woman to show them that a future in the Technology Industry is, indeed, possible. This brings the process full circle where those who have succeeded can help others to succeed and so it goes.

The Dell Technologies Releasing Female Potential Program is an internal development programme designed to enhance and support the career advancement of females within the organisation. The in-house program is tailor-made to address any specific gaps that females may have across the business. It involves mentoring, shadowing, and training.

Join us in driving measurable change

At Dell Technologies, we have a strong vision and mission to use our technology, competencies and global networks to progress toward gender equality. We know that clear action is needed in the coming decade and are dedicated to furthering our Progress Made Real commitments. There is a lot of work still left to do to reach equality, and we hope to be an example to all businesses to set and track similar goals.

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