The technology industry likes to pride itself on being ahead of the times by helping to create the world of tomorrow, but it’s less forward-thinking when it comes to tackling today’s social issues around diversity and inclusion. By failing to bring in diverse perspectives, work experiences, life styles and cultures, our industry is missing out on a wealth of opportunity for advancing innovation.
As Silicon Valley slowly comes to accept that it has a problem, there have been growing calls to promote “diversity and inclusion” in the technology sector and beyond. But what does this mean, exactly?
Inclusion is a state of being valued, respected and supported – it’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their full potential. For this to function within an organization, inclusion must be reflected in its culture, practices and relationships that are in place to support a diverse workforce. In other words: if diversity is the mix, then inclusion is finding a way to get the mix to work well together.
This often is easier said than done – and HP and others in our industry have a Herculean task before us. But while some things remain outside of our control, we must continue to address those issues which we can influence to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes sense for our business.
What Diversity and Inclusion means to HP
While we at HP are proud of the progress we’ve made toward advancing diversity and inclusion in our workforce – we have the most diverse board of directors in corporate America – and yet, we still have a long way to go. Like an increasing number of companies across the United States, HP constantly is working to make our workforce more diverse, representative of the cities, country, reflective of the world and in-tune with the global marketplace in which we operate.
But it’s not simply a matter of increasing headcount – though numbers matter. While numbers can show whether we’re moving in the right direction – or not – they only tell part of the story. Too often, companies try to make the numbers the beginning, middle and end of their diversity and inclusion story. For HP, the numbers only are the beginning.
Diversity and inclusion is important to us at HP because – in addition to being a global company with employees, customers and other stakeholders hailing from diverse cultures across the globe – our ability to innovate successfully depends on applying the broadest set of perspectives to the challenges we face. Homogeneity prevents us from effectively looking at problems from all perspectives and threatens us with the specter of groupthink – the bane of countless companies throughout history. Embracing diversity and inclusion infuses our organization with fresh perspectives which inoculate us from the plague of complacency by ensuring that our assumptions always are questioned.
Part of what always has made HP, HP, is our ability to keep open minds to adapt and evolve to the changing times. This results in more creativity, ingenuity, curiosity, inventiveness, authenticity, ideas, learning, sharing, fun and innovation.
A conscious effort to wake up to unconscious bias
Throughout our efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in our own operations, HP has realized that eliminating overtly discriminatory hiring practices isn’t enough – many diversity issues are deeply rooted in the subconscious corners of the human mind. We are all subject to what psychologists call “unconscious bias,” a term used to describe when we allow split-second perceptions about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or nationality to impact how we view people and act in response to them. In the world of business, this often means that we may subconsciously make hiring decisions based on unfounded assumptions, rather than concrete qualifications or even on merely comfort of likeness.
HP is working to address unconscious bias by reinventing our own standard for diversity and inclusion. Our goal is not merely to correct the underrepresentation of women, people of color and other minorities in our workforce and among our partners and suppliers, but to create models of behavior – and role models – to inspire the future. We call this new journey Reinvent Mindsets because we want to make it clear that just as our business reinvents how our customers live, work and play, we are also reinventing how we at HP think about and address diversity and inclusion. The initiative comprises ongoing internal training, new measurement tools and other efforts.
With Reinvent Mindsets we’ll bring attention across HP to unconscious bias through a variety of efforts, including training leaders at all levels about unconscious bias and a series of provocative videos that shine a light on how minorities and others can become casualties of unconscious bias. We hope these videos spark conversations that raise awareness and lead to action. We also want to make sure that as we contemplate our next generation of talent, that talent considers HP. That’s why we’re partnering with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in a unique business school competition to provide promising students hands-on experience with us.
Embedding Reinvent Mindsets, building a better future
HP won’t be able to solve the world’s diversity problems on its own, but through Reinvent Mindsets we hope to set an example that others in our industry can follow. There never will be a silver bullet for eliminating unconscious bias – it’s something we always will grapple with. That’s why Reinvent Mindsets is being injected into our very DNA as a company – and it will stay with us as we move into the future.
We hope this will allow our team members to always be their authentic selves. And, crucially, it’s what will allow HP to remain competitive as we harness the priceless potential of diverse human experience. By ensuring a diverse workforce whose members feel they belong, and are an integral and equal part of something meaningful and impactful, we safeguard our own future as an industry leader in technology. Only then will we at HP lead our industry in setting a new standard for diversity and inclusion.
Through Reinventing Mindsets, HP is working toward a day when the most important metrics are not about headcount, but how diversity and inclusion enables innovation, delights our consumers and allows us to always reinvent the future.