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Inclusion Byte by Byte
Empowering abilities powers up innovations for IT and computer companies.
PCs entered the corporate environment 45 years ago. The Scelbi 8B offered 16KB of memory, which was unprecedented at the time. However, in 1975, businesses outside the computer giants were lucky to have one person on staff knowledgeable about the emerging technology, and capable of troubleshooting and resolving issues.
That’s a far cry from today’s tech-driven world. In addition to PCs, modern businesses rely on mobile devices, a library of apps and programs, ecommerce, cloud computing, and software as a service (SaaS). They also depend on a fully staffed IT department to install, develop, maintain, and update the computer systems, as well as strategize future technological needs.
Therefore, the demand for IT and computer specialists has grown exponentially during the past four decades, and is projected to keep on expanding. According to the annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study by Computer Economics, nearly half of surveyed organizations plan to increase IT staffing this year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also forecasts IT and computer systems occupations to grow at a faster pace than most other professions.
But what’s really been an interesting development within the IT and computer systems field is the diversity of people choosing the path, whether directly employed in a technical role or in a supporting position at companies creating the next generation of products or systems. The other development of note is the increased attention to inclusion as a business and talent solution when competing for these in-demand professionals. Meet several of them on the following pages. Plus, gain more insight into this field, and how tech companies are empowering all abilities and building inclusion byte by byte.
Williams Invests for Square
Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey debuted a mobile credit card reader 10 years ago that enabled businesses of all sizes - from single proprietors to high-tech retailers - to complete transactions in virtually any environment. In the decade since, Square, Inc. has continued to cash in on the ever-evolving ecommerce community.
Along with creating a variety of financial services programs, the San Francisco, CA-headquartered company offers technical assistance for point of sale, payments, loyalty programs and payroll tools. While technologists and programmers focus on the functionality of such transactions, Chris Williams, CEP devotes his attention to transactions of another nature. He manages returns on investments for fellow Square employees.
“As a company, Square’s purpose is ‘Economic Empowerment,’ and it’s very satisfying to contribute to that purpose by economically empowering the people I work alongside. I provide compensation in the form of equity, administering the distribution of stock options, stock purchase plans, restricted stock grants, and other equity instruments to Square employees,” the stock plan administrator explains.
Growing up in the 1980s, Williams has always been around computers. “Utilizing technology proficiently and creatively in my professional life has felt like a natural way to play to my personal strengths,” he notes.
Williams also discovered that being on the autism spectrum has allowed him to use specific characteristics to his advantage. He was diagnosed three years ago at age 36.
“I tend to be highly detail-oriented, efficient at working with and organizing data sets, and can easily conceptualize singular objects across multiple planes, all of which tends to make me a very good stock plan administrator,” he explains.
The hyper attention to minutia benefits him on the job, but properly interpreting interpersonal skills can be a struggle at times.
“That can make day-to-day social interactions of providing and receiving verbal and non-verbal communication confusing and exhausting,” he explains.
Although Square’s open-office layout intends to encourage collaboration among colleagues, for Williams, the design can promote overstimulation. When lights and sounds become a distraction, he retreats to a quiet space.
“Booths, couches, and areas with softer lighting are plentiful and invaluable for employees like me,” he states. “I can even get acupuncture, massage, or talk therapy here in the office, all of which provide relief for any number of stress factors around me or in my life.”
Williams also knows he’s not the only one at Square affected by autism - one in every 59 children is identified on the spectrum per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The government agency also states that one in six kids deals with a developmental disability. So, in 2018, Williams proposed a new employee resource group aimed at supporting people dealing with or interested in neurodiversity.
“Neurodiversity is the idea that all variations in human neurology should be recognized, respected and embraced just like any other framework of human diversity,” says Williams, who is also the Neurodiversity Community global co-chair at Square.
“Bringing awareness and acceptance of autism and other neurological conditions to employees here at Square has helped me develop my own personal and professional identity as an advocate, activist, and leader within my real-life autistic community,” he continues.
“I’m very proud of the work I do here; very proud to work for a company that’s given me such an incredible opportunity to develop,” he concludes.
Program your future at Square Inc. by logging onto squareup.com/us/en/careers/jobs. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Creviston & Dell Technologies Confront Unconscious Bias Together
When Reid Creviston met his service dog, Java, with whom he was paired due to severe vision limitations caused by retinochoroidal coloboma at birth, he knew Java would aid him in maneuvering various environments. Creviston can only focus on objects extremely close up. “Even one foot away, [things] are unclear,” he notes.
Much to his surprise, however, Java turned into an invaluable tool for initiating conversations about unconscious biases.
“Sharing my experiences with my peers allows them to step into my shoes and think about some of things that individuals with disabilities face, especially in the workplace,” explains the human resources advisor for global diversity and inclusion at Dell Technologies.
Although the company, headquartered in Round Rock, TX, has long held a reputation as a computing innovator, Creviston is forging a new legacy around an innovative inclusion program called Many Advocating Real Change (MARC), a partnership with Catalyst.
Actually, Dell’s leaders established the Men Advocating for Real Change initiative in 2014 to expand gender equity in the workplace, prior to Creviston’s tenure. But soon it became evident the teachings could apply to all underrepresented groups. So nearly immediately upon accepting the job, Creviston was charged with leading the newly renamed Many Advocating Real Change.
“MARC is a foundational learning focused on unconscious bias, stereotypes, and privilege, and Dell Technologies was the first in our industry to roll out unconscious bias foundational learning. This interactive experience is designed to help team members identify where unconscious bias exists, and to mitigate it through increased awareness and candid conversations,” he outlines.
According to Lawless Research, more than 90% of recent tech organization founders recognize the presence of unconscious bias and are aware of the harm it causes in the workplace, yet less than half have enacted a plan to counter it.
“The training was designed to educate our leadership about how bias can unintentionally harm work culture and performance. All of our executives have gone through the program, and our goal is to have every one of our team members around the globe participate in the same learning,” he adds.
Creviston completed the MARC program his first week on the job and has since incorporated his personal experiences as a way to illustrate lessons of inclusion.
“When I took the course, I realized there was an opportunity to use my disability to connect with, and inspire, team members to advocate for the most inclusive work culture possible. Being vulnerable and sharing some of my stories helps people better understand the biases and privileges each of us possess,” he says.
That’s where Java excels, too. “Java’s role with MARC is to help create an environment of inclusion and make difficult workplace conversations more approachable. Discussing topics like bias and privilege are deep, candid conversations. It helps having Java there as a supporter that puts people at ease when they walk into the room,” he explains.
“Oftentimes, people will feel calmer, they start to smile, and they are more open to talking about these topics.”
In terms of how corporate America can take a deeper assessment of unconscious biases in the workplace, Creviston believes progress begins with each individual.
“We all have our own lens of the world. That drives how we interact, work and perceive the world around us,” he comments. “You can always learn from people who have a different lens.”
Program your future at Dell Technologies by logging onto jobs.delltechnologies.com. Follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
Moss Supports Human Capital at Synnex Corporation
When Steve Moss, MBA began his human resources career 25 years ago, much of the work relied on human interactions - in person, over the phone, and, yes, via fax and email. In 2020 HR functions reflect the modern technological world, especially for tech companies such as Synnex Corporation.
“I would never have imagined that preliminary new-hire interviews would one day be conducted asynchronously, with applicants using their smartphones to record their videos,” he remarks.
Indeed, Moss hasn’t been shy about embracing the value of HR software, especially at a tech company that bases its business on helping clients recognize possibilities presented by advanced IT utilization.
“The software we use today allows my team and me do our jobs more efficiently and effectively, from tracking prospective employees to analyzing associate performance,” says the vice president of human resources.
Based in Fremont, CA, Synnex consists of two key business segments: technology solutions and Concentrix. Technology solutions targets IT and consumer electronic markets, including manufacturers and retailers. Services vary from training and sales support to server assessment, design and integration, and even IT resource planning.
Concentrix provides business solutions, including advanced analytics and process optimization to the pharmaceutical, financial, consumer electronic, and insurance industries, among others.
What both divisions share is the value of relationships between associates and clients. That’s the same sentiment Moss strives to convey between the human resources department and all Synnex employees - his team partners with more than 400 managers across the country. Ironically, as more operations go digital, there’s more effort required to reinforce the value of interpersonal connections.
“Despite the never-ending pace of change, it’s still very much driven by relationships. Every day we have to prove ourselves and add value,” says Moss.
Some of that value is derived from the establishment and reliable execution of corporate programs, such as benefits management and employee communications. Other value comes from more individual support systems, something Moss has experienced first-hand. For years, he lived with an undiagnosed hearing deficiency. But he now wears a hearing aid.
“When I first got hearing aids, it was a real shock to learn how much I was not hearing. I had no idea that birds sing so much!” he remembers.
Even with the device, Moss appreciates it when his boss repeats comments or conversations at a louder volume.
“My boss is really great. She understands that sometimes I miss things people say. If it were not for an understanding boss, then I might easily be written off as not being up for the task,” he comments.
Having had that experience, Moss always looks for opportunities to extend similar individual support to others. “It’s not difficult for me to ask people if they need help,” he confesses.
Moss remembers one particularly impactful example. “A few years ago, one of our employees came to see me because she heard I had hearing aids, and wondered if they might benefit her. I encouraged her to get a hearing test from a professional audiologist, and she was fitted with hearing aids not long after,” he recalls.
“When she came into my office, she cried as she told me how much they helped.”
Still, the influence of digital technology is ever present, and Moss feels obligated to pay forward certain words of wisdom about how to shape one’s online personality.
“I think it’s safe to say that information being shared so quickly - whether fairly or unfairly - is a real challenge. Many people lack the skill to discern between what can and what should be shared,” he cautions.
“Reputations can be irrevocably damaged by anonymous people whose motives are not fully known.”
Program your future at Synnex Corporation by logging onto synnexcorp.com/careers. Follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
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TDS Telecom’s Sango Talks ERGs
Nearly 60 years ago, Xerox made history. Of course, the 1960s were a groundbreaking decade for computer technology, and Xerox was at the forefront. But the company wasn’t just creating new computer operations. It was taking a social stand.
Race riots in the company’s hometown of Rochester, NY, inspired then-CEO Joseph Wilson to address the company’s commitment to cultivating an inclusive workplace that recognized and supported cultural differences. Wilson instructed leaders to establish workplace affinity groups so people with common characteristics could bond professionally and personally, which employees embraced. Soon other corporations followed suit.
Indeed, employee resource groups (ERGs), as they’re now called, have become corporate pillars. According to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, 90% of Fortune 500 companies offer ERGs.
However, these internal organizations have evolved beyond ethnicities to now representing a myriad of underrepresented groups. For example, TDS Telecom offers ERGs for women, veterans and interns.
In fact, the programs have helped earn the internet and cable provider headquartered in Madison, WI accolades for its diversity and inclusion efforts, including being named to Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Diversity list two years in a row. It’s also earned finalist status as a USO Wisconsin Veteran Friendly Workplace. Plus, it was issued the Wisconsin Society of Human Resource Management Workplace Diversity, Inclusion and Workflex Advocate Award.
Here, John Sango, vice president of customer contact operations and executive sponsor for the company’s Achieving a Better Life/Work Environment (ABLE) ERG, discusses the importance of these organizations as a value-added business endeavor.
How do ERGs assist in developing and retaining a diverse workforce?
Sango: Because TDS faces a tight labor market across the U.S., recruiting and retaining more diverse teams is an on-going challenge. We’re always looking for new ways to create a more inclusive environment that’s respectful and welcoming to all team members. To help with our diversity and inclusion efforts, we have eight ERGs. Along with our Intern, Emerging Professionals, and Green ERGs, we also have Women in Technology, Patriots, ABLE, Our Heritage, and 2BU ERGs.
The mission of TDS’ Women in Technology is to recruit, retain, and develop women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Our Heritage ERG is open to all TDS employees seeking to discover the cultural melting pot within our organization. The 2BU fosters a sense of community within and outside TDS by valuing differences, providing educational opportunities, and helping LGBTQ+ employees succeed. The Patriot ERG supports local military, law enforcement, and first responder groups.
Where do people with disabilities fall within the current trends of ERGs?
Sango: At TDS we’re constantly striving to have our company reflect the communities we serve, and raise awareness regarding diversity and inclusion. More than two years ago, our ABLE ERG was formed to support employees living and working with disabilities. The group also supports family members who serve as caregivers of those with chronic health issues or other health matters.
ABLE brings in local health experts for staff presentations, including the American Heart Association, JDRF, Journey Mental Health and Gilda’s Club. In addition, the ERG coordinates an annual wellness fair and has sponsored a grocery store tour with a local dietitian. At TDS we understand that employee health and well-being needs to be a priority.
How does having a diverse workforce in technical functions help in overall business success?
Sango: At TDS we know a diverse workplace brings creativity and innovation, helping contribute to social development among our team members. We understand that a diverse workforce will help us be more productive and maintain our competitive edge.
Program your future at TDS Telecom by logging onto tdstelecom.com/careers. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.
Computer & IT Occupations on the Rise
Employment of computer and information technology (IT) occupations is projected to grow 12% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 546,200 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.
The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $86,320 in May 2018, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $38,640.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Edge Computing Accelerates Growth in Tech
Cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) will once again dominate technology headlines, but 2020 could be a breakout year for edge computing.
Indeed, while familiar themes such as cloud computing (including everything-as-a-service, or XaaS) and AI will once again make tech headlines, 2020 could be a breakout year for “edge computing.”
According to Paul Sallomi, global technology, media, and telecommunications industry leader and U.S. global technology sector leader for Deloitte, the time is right for companies to seriously consider exploring the advantages - including reduced latency and lower bandwidth costs - of processing data locally, at the edge of their networks.
In terms of strategy, partnerships will likely become even more essential for tech companies seeking to deliver solutions that drive true business outcomes for customers.
In fact, as we enter a new decade, one thing is certain: cloud adoption will continue to rise as companies embrace flexible consumption via both hybrid and multicloud environments.
For many companies, the hybrid-cloud approach serves as an interim step in the long process of digital transformation. Due to several factors, including a reliance on legacy systems and the need to comply with corporate regulations, many organizations have opted to place their workloads on both private and public clouds. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 90% of organizations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management.
Enterprises are also increasingly adopting multicloud solutions that combine cloud services from multiple providers. According to a 2019 Kentik report, 58% of businesses are already using a combination of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud in their multicloud networks. A multicloud approach enables companies to assess the strengths and weaknesses of several vendors before committing for the longer term. Multicloud can also help organizations optimize costs and avoid vendor lock-in issues. The good news is that cloud providers are developing capabilities that allow companies to operate seamlessly across multiple environments.
Many companies, however, still harbor serious reservations about utilizing public clouds - a major reason hybrid clouds have become so popular. According to a recent FileCloud report, 50% of companies don’t plan on moving mission-critical workloads to the public cloud. In addition, Symantec reports that more than half of organizations face challenges in protecting their workloads - and fear that the maturity of their security might not keep pace with their cloud adoption.
This growing concern about cloud security presents providers with a distinctive opportunity. In many cases, cloud providers possess far greater security capabilities and expertise than most businesses could ever hope to develop on their own. For this reason security has become a key driver of hybrid cloud adoption. Cloud-based security solutions continue to gain traction across many industries, especially in financial services, government, and other highly regulated sectors.
As was pointed out last year, cloud-based solutions also provide the most popular path for acquiring AI capabilities. Increasingly, enterprises are viewing AI as essential to their continued innovation and growth. Deloitte’s Global State of AI in the Enterprise, 2nd Edition survey found that AI early adopters consider this tech to be “very” or “critically” important to their company’s success today. The percentage of executives rating AI as “critically important” is expected to surge globally during the next two years.
As a result, they’re investing in AI - and getting a return. In fact, 51% of survey respondents expected to boost their AI investments by 10% or more in 2019, and 80% indicated their AI investments had driven return on investments (ROI) of 10% or more.
According to our survey, the primary AI benefits to date have been “enhancing products and services” and “optimizing internal business operations.” In the coming year, companies will likely also increasingly implement AI for managing customer interactions, developing and testing products, personalizing products and services, delivering connected equipment, and enabling deeper involvement of personal assistants in consumers’ day-to-day activities.
With the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, combined with the increased portability of computing power and AI-driven tools, the time is right for edge computing to experience significant growth.
Consider this: according to Gartner, companies generated a modest 10% of their data outside a data center or cloud in 2019. This amount is expected to reach 75% in the next six years. As a result, IDC predicts that, in three years, 45% of IoT-generated data will be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon close to or at the edge of networks. This will largely be driven by IoT applications across industries like manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, financial services, logistics and agriculture.
We expect to see more portable and fixed networks with local high-capacity, low-latency (real-time) processing capabilities that embed analytics and AI to transform the customer experience.
The benefits of edge computing can extend to factories, distribution facilities, autonomous vehicles - essentially any situation where data must be processed locally versus sending it to the cloud or a data center.
Source: Deloitte’s 2020 Technology Industry Outlook
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