How a tech giant approaches workforce diversity

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In the US, 65% of HP employees identify as white. | josefkubes / Shutterstock

Following the assassination of Geoge Floyd, a number of large corporations made statements against racism. HP’s CEO also issued a goal: to double the number of black and African American executives by 2025.

For nearly two decades, the technology giant, headquartered in Palo Alto, California and a major player in North American electronics recycling, has followed the racial diversity of its employees. And it was on purpose when it created what it believed to be the most diverse board of directors of any big tech company.

In a recent interview, Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at HP, reflected on the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, many of which were featured in the company’s 2019 Sustainable Impact Report. published June 24th.

Ellen Jackowski

Ellen Jackowski

Jackowski said HP has a lot more to do on diversity and inclusion. HP’s US workforce, for example, is just under 4% black and African-American, she said. At the national level, black and African American people make up 12.3% of all workers. according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It is clear that we are not making enough progress in hiring blacks and African Americans,” said Jackowski. “Our current numbers are not acceptable and we are taking steps to improve.”

On the way to a more diverse workforce

HPs Sustainability report 2019 found that the company recycled over £ 259 million of electronic hardware and £ 32 million of ink and toner cartridges through its global network of recyclers over the past year.

But since 2002, the company’s sustainability report took into account more than just environmental impacts; it also reported on the diversity of its workforce. HP sees people as connected to the environment and the community, said Jackowski. For example, she said that climate change – and now COVID-19 – is particularly affecting color communities.

“In the face of these unprecedented global challenges, these recent events continue to underscore the deep inequalities that remain in our society and that we must address more aggressively,” she said.

The company’s 2019 sustainability report finds that 63% of US hires to HP came from underrepresented groups in the past year, up from 57% the previous year. “Underrepresented” includes women, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities. Of those new hires, 40% were minority groups, up from 32% in 2018. And globally, 40% of new hires were women, up from 32% the year before, she said.

But at 3.8%, the percentage of US employees at HP who are black or African-American is small. According to the 2019 Sustainability Report, 4.8% of new hires in the US last year were Black or African American.

In the US, 65% of HP employees identify as white.

It will be important to strengthen partnerships with groups that focus on the Black and African American communities, as well as ensuring that HP has an intentional focus on the recruiting efforts, Jackowski said.

One example of a partnership is HP’s ongoing collaboration with the National HBCU Business Deans Roundtable, through which HP participates in the Business Challenge Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). As part of the competition, college and university students present HP business ideas and are encouraged to apply for internships.

According to a Press release from March 2020 To announce the winners of the third challenge, HP has hired seven interns from the top teams over the past two years. Since the program started in 2017, HP has offered five full-time positions out of 44 participants (including 17 repeat participants).

When HP split into two companies, HP Inc. and HP Enterprise, half a decade ago, HP Inc. was intentionally working to create one various board membersexplained Jackowski. According to the Sustainable Impact Report 2019, 42% of the board of directors are women, 58% are minorities in the US, and 33% are underrepresented minorities.

“HP has the most diverse board of directors of any US tech company, so our leadership in this space clearly starts from the top,” she said.

The Sustainable Impact Report 2019 announced CEO Enrique Lores’ goal to double the number of black and African American executives over the next five years. According to the report, HP had 314 executives worldwide in 2019. The report does not identify the races of these executives.

Promotion of supplier diversity

HP is also working with its purchasing power to support diversity and inclusion.

HP’s recently released sustainability report states that the company’s supplier diversity program has spent $ 123 million on minority and women-owned companies. Jackowski said the program is also encouraging suppliers to take steps to increase their diversity.

She referred to an example where HP was looking for a supplier that would support low-income and minority groups. The company’s core recycling partner, Sims Lifecycle Services, is subcontracting to e-waste processor Homeboy Electronics Recycling in Los Angeles. Homeboy, the printer dismantled and reclaims the plastic for use in HP products, employs people who face job barriers, including those with previous convictions.

When asked how recycling companies can ensure minority representation in their organizations, Jackowski said the effort must be intentional.

“Everyone is able to make change,” she said. “You may not see the opportunity in the recycling industry to create your own diversity and inclusion goal and your progress for your company and your industry, but we need action everywhere in all industries and all sectors. And it has to start with the individual. “

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