Entries from August 2008 ↓

Casual Friday: Internet Meme Time

Rather than try to tie a casual topic into my corporate blog this week, I’m just diving in with an Internet meme I was first exposed to on Stu’s blog.  The challenge — list your favorite album (not necessarily the objectively best album) for every year you’ve been alive, with no repeated artists (this last rule complicates quite a few things!).  I also refused to use live albums, greatest hits, or to list ties (sorry Stuart).  It was much more difficult than I thought.

It certainly made me aware how much music I’ve listened to at different points in my life.

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If I had a million dollars

Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you’d do if you had a million dollars and you didn’t have to work. And invariably what you’d say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic.

This line from Office Space cuts to the chase.  What would you do, if you didn’t have to do anything?  I’ve asked myself that question over the years many times, and in my youth I I sounded a bit like Peter when I answered it:

I would relax… I would sit on my ass all day… I would do nothing.

It’s ironic that it’s hard to answer the question until you’ve been around the block a few times.  Here you are at 30 or 40, finally knowing what you want to be when you grow up, and you’re 10-20 years into something different.
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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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