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Diversity Stands Out at Dell

By Melissa J. Anderson

Coverage of Dell’s Corporate Responsibility Report [PDF], released last week, has focused largely on the company’s environmental achievements – like cutting emissions, cutting waste, and increasing recyclable packaging. But the prominence diversity receives within the report is also worth noting.

The company dedicates several pages to its people. And the “people” section not merely a cursory “health and safety” paragraph, or some glossy photos of corporate volunteer work (although both of these topics are covered). Based on the information contained in the report, Dell is a firm supporter of workplace diversity.

It says, “When we combine our diverse experiences and creativity, we create a culture that inspires winning, where we all can embrace and live our purpose in everything we do.”

The company understands that celebrating diversity is a cornerstone for success in today’s economy. But Dell does more than deliver lip service to diversity – it goes into detail on the metrics surrounding its diversity efforts.

Diversity at Dell: The Numbers

The report gives a top-level assessment of where the company stands in terms of diversity.

A table toward the beginning of the report lists the percentages of women on its board of directors, people of color on its board of directors, women team members, women managers, people of color team members, and people of color managers going back 3 fiscal years, so readers can track the company’s progress. The table also gives the percentage of employee resource group participation and the number of employee resource group locations going back 2 fiscal years.

The numbers give a clear view of what the company has achieved – and the work it has left. For example, last year the percentage of women on Dell’s board of directors was 18%. This year it’s 9%, due, the report indicates, to the resignation of one of its female directors. Without saying so, the report shows that the company now has only 1 woman on its board of directors. But, the transparency in this matter is refreshing – and Dell acknowledges that it can do better.

As Founder and CEO Michael Dell wrote in his opening letter, “We’re proud of these accomplishments, and we understand there will always be more to do.”

Inclusion vs. Diversity

The report also features in interesting discussion on the difference between diversity and inclusion. First of all, the company strives to build diversity in its workforce and leadership. The report says:

“When we combine our diverse experiences and creativity, we create a culture that inspires winning, where we all can embrace and live our purpose in everything we do.”

But, according to Dell, diversity is only the first step – inclusion is the big picture goal. The report continues:

“Each team member brings remarkably different talents, perspectives, and life and career experiences to help us achieve our purpose for our customers. We believe that for our team members to do their best work, a commitment to a culture of inclusion is essential. Inclusion is an environment where people feel valued, supported, respected, involved and engaged.”

The company has taken significant steps toward promoting a culture of inclusion – with the inclusion initiative headed by Michael Dell himself, chairing Dell’s Global Diversity Council and hosting company-wide meetings for Employee Resource Groups. The company has also hired Alexis Herman, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor to work with Dell’s Global Diversity Council and its Diversity Policy and Governance Council to advise the company on diversity efforts.

Dell has been recognized by Working Mother as one of the Best Companies to Work For as well as retained a perfect score with the Human Rights Campaign for the past 6 years.

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