Dell boss calls for men to help bridge gender gap

Picture: AP
Picture: AP
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THE European head of computer technology giant Dell is calling for men to take an active role in tackling the IT industry’s well-publicised lack of diversity.

Aongus Hegarty, Dell’s president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said the sector needs to engage workers from all backgrounds to achieve gender and ethnic equality.

And with men in the majority of leadership positions, their input is mandatory in creating a more balanced environment, he suggested.

“I see some very good progress, especially now that things are moving on from women networking among themselves and mentoring one another,” he said. “Those things were good and generated positive results, but to deal with these sorts of issues you need to leverage all of your leaders within an organisation.”

His comments came just hours after hosting Dell’s latest Marc event in Dublin, with about 50 local business leaders at yesterday morning’s session.

Earlier this year, Dell became the first major IT company to implement the Marc Leaders pilot programme, a six-month initiative of Men Advocating Real Change (Marc). Created by Catalyst, the non-profit organisation for women in business, the programme is for men committed to creating inclusive leadership.

A tense topic for some time now, the issue of diversity flared up again last year after several high-profile companies released breakdowns on staff demographics, all of which were out of line with the general population in terms of sex, age and race.Worldwide, only 30 per cent of Google’s employees are women, and just 17 per cent of its technical staff are female. At global leadership level, 77 per cent of Facebook’s employees are men.

At Apple, 20 per cent of its global technical workforce are women, with females holding just 28 per cent of the top leadership roles. Women also make up less than 30 per cent of Microsoft’s workforce, and hold just 17.3 per cent of the firm’s senior roles.

Campaigners argue that figures such as these – and similar statistics on ethnic diversity – are preventing the industry from accessing the best talent available. It is a particular concern in IT, where managers have been complaining for years about skills shortages.

A 25-year veteran of the ­industry, Hegarty took over Dell’s newly-amalgamated EMEA region in 2011. As part of that re-organisation, he asked for the names of his top 12 managers. Just one was a woman.

“That made me stand back in surprise, because I knew we had a great team of talent, both male and female, but clearly women were not very well represented at senior leadership level,” he said.

He now has four women on his top team, as well as better representation from non-English speaking countries. The result has been improved collaboration and higher customer satisfaction.

“We got our latest NPS [net promoter score] figures just two weeks ago, and we are up to our highest level in terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty,” he said.