Entries Tagged 'Diversity' ↓

Stereotyping in the age of inclusion

Last week I stumbled onto an interesting phrase in a personal finance blog I read occasionally.

…knew to negotiate like an Indian — meaning he recognized that he has more control in his relationships with companies.

On first glance, the phrase “<action> like an <ethnic background>” seems offensive.  Try it yourself, plug a few in there, negative or positive.  In general it ends up sounding ignorant, maybe even hateful.  The fact that the author is Indian leads me to believe this wasn’t his intent, of course, and when you read a follow-up comment on the blog you get a clearer picture of what is going on here:

Spent some time backpacking in India … I realized I was very undergunned when it came to negotiating with the auto-rickshaw drivers. After six months, I could hold my own.

So one possible meaning here is that there are opportunities for confrontational negotiation in the Indian culture that are not in the US culture.  I asked the author of the post for clarification but he didn’t respond, so I can only guess.  But for someone in a global corporation, interacting with people from different cultures (even in different cultures) every day, this isn’t just an academic question.

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EMC World 2009 – Day Three – WME Breakfast

On day three the conference has begun to take its toll.  Legs, feet, back, brain — all tired.  But this morning was energizing — a breakfast discussion with Natalie Corridan-Gregg and a panel of working mothers.  I’ll let others discuss the meatier parts of the breakfast, but I wanted to share some of what I took away from it.

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Working Mothers at EMC

When my blog was young and I was hungry for topics, I was hit by a bolt of inspiration — I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the EMC that signed my paycheck as compared to the EMC I was reading about on the web, specifically in the areas of equality and inclusion.  I ended up writing a series of six posts last summer dealing with the subject.  That was about nine months ago, and I’m still glad I did it.  I periodically drop back in to the subject as there are some compelling stories just waiting to be told and because I’m proud of the changes in culture that have happened at EMC over the years.

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Willkommen a new EMC blogger

I just got word of a new EMC voice out there, blogging, Hans-Jürgen Rau.  His blog, IT Truly Does Matter, is hosted in Germany and is written in German.  I’m not aware of any other non-English EMCer blogs (though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more – I’ll update the post if I hear of any).

So, if you speak German (or if you want to give the auto-translator a try; there is one on the page) swing by the site and say Guten Tag!

Office Politics

One of the more interesting moments in my transition from developer to manager was when, in a training class, an honest instructor said, “If you don’t want to see office politics, you shouldn’t become a manager.”  I always thought I wasn’t one for office politics, but I was beginning to get dragged into them as an individual contributor, so I realized it was a non-issue for me.

But I’m not here to talk about that kind of office politics.  I’m here to talk about politics in the office.  Well, politics, religion, and whether you prefer waffles to pancakes.  You know, the hard questions.  I recently saw a discussion sparked by an employee who felt “harassed” by having unpopular political views criticized by others at the workplace.
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Diversity, Inclusion, and Personal Values

I’ve spent time lately talking about diversity and inclusion from a corporate perspective.  Now I want to reflect on the issue from a more personal angle.

I try to live with an open mind, recognizing the bias of my own upbringing while trying to disregard it.  I account for and value the varying cultural perspectives I encounter in my daily life.  But I also deeply value equality, freedom, and reason.

What do we do when we encounter perspectives which clash with our values?  How hard is it to reconcile the ideal of inclusion with the reality that some ideas deserve to be excluded?

Basically, when does “I respect your beliefs” end and “I think you are dangerous” begin?
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Diversity at EMC: Conclusions

(This is part of a multi-post series on Diversity at EMC.  See all posts in the Diversity category here.)

Last week, I posed the question this whole series has been leading to:  If you’re passionate about diversity and inclusion, is EMC the right place for you?

Today, I’m going to do my best to answer it.  The answer shouldn’t surprise you – I am going to say “Yes.”  But hopefully I can keep the reasons interesting.

I am not saying Yes because EMC has this thing all figured out.  I should hope you can piece together from my series of posts that EMC is getting better, that we have some passionate people in the right places, and that we’re succeeding.  But just like anything in business, you never claim victory.  You just keep raising the bar.  EMC knows a thing or two about that.
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Diversity at EMC: Building In Inclusion

(This is part of a multi-post series on Diversity at EMC.  See all posts in the Diversity category here.)

I’ve talked a lot about diversity, starting with my own personal experiences and looking further and further outwards.  I’ve had some hallway conversations, exchanged private emails, and gotten more of a feel of what some other people’s experiences look like.

Through it all, though, the question has remained: how do you take the overriding spirit of inclusiveness and build it into corporate DNA?  How do you make sure that people aren’t just working on diverse teams, but that they value and seek diversity?  How do you make sure that everyone feels valued?

There are endless ways, and many of them are under control not of the corporate overlords but the front line managers, senior managers, and even peer employees.
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Diversity at EMC: Employee Circles

(This is part of a multi-post series on Diversity at EMC.  See all posts in the Diversity category here.)

In a previous post, I mentioned how new hires into an organization might cluster around a “least risk” demographic.  While it’s not always true, anyone outside that group might be at a disadvantage in competing for recognition and advancement.

As an example, a software developer who speaks English with an accent might write excellent code but struggle with the interpersonal aspects of the job, which become more important as her responsibility in the organization grows.  She is not being explicitly penalized for her background, but is facing a disadvantage other team members are not.  When deciding who to promote, she may be passed over (and in fact that is a defensible decision).

So how do you help people in these underrepresented groups succeed?
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Diversity at EMC: The Complexities of Business

(This is part of a multi-post series on Diversity at EMC.  See all posts in the Diversity category here.)

Even once you accept that diversity is inherently valuable in the workplace (just as it is in finance), there are still business realities which can complicate the situation.  For example, a team competing solely on time to market will be more likely to win if the members of that team share common language and cultural assumptions (no overhead dealing with cultural gaps, communication difficulties, etc.).  Similarly, a sales team might benefit from having a similar demographic makeup as their target audience, even if that audience is homogeneous.

Over time I believe these would turn into weaknesses for those teams, but sometimes “over time” isn’t what matters.
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