ML Krakauer, executive vice president of human resources at EMC Corporation and Jackie Glenn, global chief diversity officer at EMC Corporation, at the Everywoman Advancing Women in Technology forum, are both strong advocates that diversity in the workforce is good for business.
Krakauer says: “When you think about women, they represent half of the world, and in order to find the best talent you have to be looking at the entire talent pool which is available globally. It really is business imperative. It is important.”
According to Glenn, studies have shown by having more women or just more of a difference within a workforce, it will produce better results for a company. She explains that difference can also include ethnicity and disability.
Diversity is also a main driver of innovation in business. Krakauer says “You need to have people with different experiences, different backgrounds and different skills because when you bring that all together you really get creative sparks.
“Diversity is a critical compound to driving innovation and achieving goals and getting the very best talent to do great things.”
As part of EMC’s diversity strategy, the company has made a conscious decision to host forums like the Everywoman Advancing Women in Technology, because they feel it develops their female staff.
Glenn says: “What women will take away from the conference, in a nutshell, is how to manage their career. How to network. How to bring their authentic self to work. How to be agile.”
It also gives women the opportunity to learn from other females who have reached senior positions, she says.
“I really believe in role modelling,” Glenn continues. “The more women who are in high positions, the more it gives other females the ability to say,I can get there. I think we need to get more women in the pipeline, but in the absence of that they need continuous development. Women need to understand that they are just as qualified and just as good to hold some of these roles.”
EMC has numerous workshops and programmes for their women to develop. What Glenn finds surprising is when the firm asks its female employees to grade their skill sets against how people see them, nine out of 10 times they normally grade themselves lower than their colleagues.
Glenn explains these forums can help get women to the point where they are grading themselves higher or the same in relation to how others see them. They are also valuable because they give people the opportunity to learn from others with different backgrounds.
Krakauer adds: “It is also a great opportunity to share best practice and find out what others are doing. It is also a great opportunity to network because different people give you different views on how you might solve a problem.
“If you look at the network of a powerful business leader or politician, they will have in their network other people in their company, other people in their industry, they will have academics and they will have other politicians.”
Another major message to come out of the event is developing your career also means taking risks and it is important to step outside your comfort zone.
“The messages that are coming away are everyone can have an exceptional and exciting career,” says Krakauer. “It is not just women,
it is men too. But you have to be willing to step away from some of the things that feel familiar and safe, take risks and do new things. If you do that you will have a really exciting career.”
Although people may hit bumps along the way in their career, Krakauer believes these perceived setbacks should be viewed positively.
She says: “Every career has setbacks, and you should not feel as if you are the only person that has ever hit a bump in their career.
“Most careers have multiple set backs – when you hit one of those, it may be very hard at the time, but it is a good chance to step back and think. It may be closing a door, but it is a good chance to think about what is it you do really want to do.”
Having a diverse workforce is essential when it comes to creating an environment which brings forth innovation and can help overcomes the difficulties staff members may face. Perhaps overall, it can improve the performance of companies too.
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