Thriving together with unconditional inclusion

MARCH 31, 2022 • BLOG POST • MANJU ABRAHAM, VICE PRESIDENT FOR DATA INFRASTRUCTURE ENGINEERING, HPE STORAGE

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • HPE is creating space and time for critical conversations on allyship for women in tech
  • Author Eva Helen shares practical insights from her book Women in Tech: A Book for Guys
  • Inclusion is crucial for our success as engineers – and as humans

Practical steps for breaking the bias for women in tech

The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is Breaking the Bias. To me, this is a particularly relevant theme this year.

At HPE, we commit to unconditional inclusion, to unleash the benefits of equity, wellbeing, innovation, and influence in how we do business. Breaking down biases and nurturing a diverse workforce that is connected based on our shared humanity and sense of belonging is in alignment with our values as a company and is crucial to our success. 

As we geared up towards celebrating Women’s History Month in 2022, slowly emerging from the throes of a global pandemic into the hybrid world of work, we elevated the need to value and operationalize the importance of the sense of belonging – within our teams, organization, and in our communities. We realized the necessity for each of us to intentionally form and maintain connections with our colleagues. And as part of our focus to #BreakTheBias, we aimed at creating space and time for empathy, understanding, and shared perspectives. With events where women shared experiences of unconscious gender bias, we heightened awareness about the prevalence of these biases. We found that both men and women recognize that gender equality is not just a woman’s problem but a human problem; it affects all of us.

Every time we bring to light the menacing effects biases have on the lives of countless women, most male colleagues pose the question, “how can I help?” To help answer this question, we invited author Eva Helen to engage in a fireside chat about her book Women in Tech: A Book for Guys. Eva’s book shares her research on the topic, gathered through interviews with senior male leaders across the Tech industry. Her book synthesizes the insights gathered from all this research and defines a set of personas throughout the book. She describes the mindset and actions of each persona, helping readers connect with the themes being discussed. In our fireside chat, Eva shared some of this persona research along with specific examples of what allyship looks like in different roles or contexts. She described practical steps men can take to be better allies and advocates, directly or indirectly supporting women in the workplace and offering solutions to challenging gender-related problems.

The strong and active participation in this event by my colleagues is a testament to the incredible heart that beats for equity and progress in our people.

Eva’s compassionate expression of the challenges facing women in the tech industry and the need to enable male allies in this conversation resonated with so many of my colleagues, both male and female.

 

“[From the author’s event], a couple of things have stuck with me. Some important conversations are starting to happen around biases, and I feel people are getting encouraged to look at things through a different lens. These conversations and events lead to a better understanding of how men can be better allies and advocates. Even if half the people make a concerted effort to become stronger allies/advocates, we would have been successful.” – Viqas Zafar

“This event was a unique effort towards inclusion. For women in the tech industry (like me), it can feel like we have to walk a tightrope between powerful activism and peaceful workplaces. As movements like #MeToo put a spotlight on the many bad behaviors and damaging dynamics between men and women, it is even more important that we find, create and support meaningful allyship among our colleagues.” – Sonali Somyalipi

“[When it comes to gender equality] it is important to live the change. We need to be willing to speak up when we see or hear things that are not right….We should not accept behaviors that limit any of us, because when these behaviors are left unaddressed, it ultimately limits all of us.” – Don Roehling

“The best part of this event was the level of awareness, engagement, and dialog that it has created on such an important topic. I left the meeting fully energized in knowing that we have taken the first step in having a difficult/uncomfortable conversation. Every bit of action counts. Attending the event is just the first step; Reach out, show support, and strive to make a difference” – Guru Subramanyam

 

Eva also spoke about how the strategies in her book could help more men take action toward supporting women in tech. She offered practical guidance on how women could start dialogues on gender equality and allyship with male colleagues and offered a framework for helping men and women assess their current interactions and future opportunities. Perhaps most helpful, Eva talked about allyship as a journey, not a destination. Pairing good intentions with small, consistent actions is forward progress and contributes to overall improvement. “Technology is ever-evolving, and that is what makes it interesting. Because I think it’s like human beings, as long as we evolve, as long as we keep on growing, as long as we keep on learning, it stays interesting.” - Author, speaker, and CEO, Eva Helen

Even though Women’s History Month is coming to a close, these critical conversations around gender equality and unconditional inclusion will carry forward. We will continue creating opportunities for people to share their stories, as I believe that truly helps us understand and connect better with our colleagues. So many women, even in this industry, have stories of struggles they have endured to be treated as equals and given access to opportunities and rewards they deserve.

By sharing our stories, sharing information, sharing practical tips, we can work to break the bias against women that is still so present in the tech industry.

For women, every act of support by male coworkers matters, no matter how big or small the gesture. Men in tech who support women are role models for other men. Their experiences and ideas are being heard -- inclusive and selfless leaders build strong teams, strong businesses and drive innovation. Above all, we make the world around us a better place. 

I am proud to work for HPE and an organization with so many role models. 

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