Hewlett-Packard has announced aggressive diversity goals for its workforce, including 50/50 gender equality among its leadership ranks by 2030. It also wants 30 percent of its technical and engineering roles to be held by women, and to surpass certain benchmarks when it comes to hiring from underrepresented groups.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Lesley Slaton Brown, HP’s Chief Diversity Officer, suggested that HP’s aggressive diversity efforts include employees and vendors from all demographics. “We’re really talking about answering all the way up to the board of directors on what we’re doing—our dashboards, our matrices that we pulled together will go to our board of directors to say, ‘Here’s what we said we’re going to do, how are we tracking, and then ultimately what was the impact,’” she said. “And so that’s what we’re building today. I consider that the infrastructure.”
If Brown’s plan works out, HP’s workforce will soon prove more diverse than the overall tech industry. “For example,” she said, “we’re at nearly 4 percent of having African Americans in a leadership position. Our goal is to achieve hiring at or more than 6 percent by 2025.”
Like other tech giants, HP’s diversity efforts include casting a wider net for talented candidates. “I would submit there is not a shortage of talent,” Brown added. “It’s about how do you get to the talent? It has traditionally been through top-tier schools such as Stanford and MIT. But you know what? Smart people and great talent are everywhere.”
Tech companies such as Google and Facebook have spent years pursuing very public diversity initiatives. While those efforts have resulted in somewhat more diverse workforces, progress has often been slow, with the numbers of employees from underrepresented groups often rising by just a few percentage points over a four- or five-year span. It takes a lot of effort, time, and commitment for a company to become more diverse; hopefully HP is committed to its current path.
The tech industry also has quite a bit of work to do when it comes to stopping racial and gender discrimination. As part of its Equality in Tech Report, Dice asked more than 9,000 technologists whether they’d experienced or witnessed discrimination during their careers, and significant portions said “yes.” For example, 55 percent of Black technologist respondents said they believed that racial inequality occurs frequently or very frequently in the tech industry. So did notable percentages of Hispanic/Latino(a) respondents (39 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander respondents (31 percent), White respondents (30 percent) and Asian Indian respondents (22 percent).