Their new graduate program is a game changer
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is creating a strong pipeline to bring diverse staff into the organisation at all levels, according to Raj Thakur, VP & GM, Hybrid IT at HPE.
Thakur told HRD that during the hiring process it is important that leadership and talent acquisition teams are educated to ensure that the business builds a diverse workforce.
“So, we encourage all the executive team and the recruiters to actively seek out applicants with different industry experiences, skill sets, backgrounds, gender identities, etc.,” said Thakur. “Then when the leadership team has reviews around top talent we look closely at what the diversity is like in each team.”
“So, there is real process around talent acquisition, particularly for what I would call ‘professional hires’.”
Thakur added that HPE also have a graduate program which is an important pipeline to build diversity and attract more innovative minds.
Indeed, HPE recently had their graduate recruitment event in Australia and Thakur participated in the Sydney program.
“It was good to see there was a healthy mix in terms of gender balance,” he added.
“It was quite surprising given we are in IT and you will find fewer young females wanting to move into the sector, but we actually had a good balance of applicants when we went to that process.”
Moreover, HPE work hard to make sure that if an employee goes on maternity leave then the company is “very flexible in terms of bringing them back to work to suit them best”, according Thakur.
Thakur said HPE also support what they call “Employee Resource Groups”.
“This is where employees can connect who have shared interests - globally we have 120 of these,” he said. “Members can connect based on characteristics like ability, age, race, sexual orientation and cultural identity. Then there is the networking, mentorship opportunities and communication right across the organisation.”
In fact, Thakur himself is an active member of the Young Employee Network (YEN group).
“Our MD Stephen Bovis sits down quarterly with the team and I always attend all their events,” said Thakur.
“By helping develop their skills and expertise we ensure we always have a strong and diverse pipeline of highly skilled employees looking to take on leadership roles.”
So, what’s Thakur’s advice to HR professionals to build a diverse and inclusive culture?
“This is near and dear to my heart given I have always worked very closely with the HR partners right through my career,” said Thakur.
He added that HR are critical to ensure that within the leadership team and the culture there is a level of conscience around diversity because business leaders tend to get busy and other priorities can take precedence.
“What I found is that the HR partners who are tightly linked with the business will always be there by the side of the leaders through those busy periods,” said Thakur. “But it’s also about ensuring that they are there to influence the senior leaders and to champion diversity and inclusion.”
Indeed, that’s a really important part of the way Thakur sees the HR partners working with the leadership team to be successful.
“I also think HR professionals should go beyond the programmatic parts and look to bring more measureable metrics, objectives and targets to the people strategy,” he said. “It’s important to ensure they are working together with senior leaders, measuring and tracking success against the objectives.
“Another aspect that I have found very useful and a great asset to me as a leader over the years is having a strong HR partner who is always questioning not just me but other leaders about our decisions.”
Thakur said this is important to make sure that HPE are on the right track as they move forward.
“There is a very strong measurable outcome that we are looking for, not just something that’s presented on a PowerPoint,” he said.
For HPE, it’s about making sure that on a daily, weekly, monthly basis the company is working together to grow and support diversity and inclusion in the business.
Thakur added that he is particularly passionate about gender diversity, as women are significantly underrepresented in the tech industry.
“It’s a global challenge in many countries and one of the ways to address this is through STEM industry school partnerships. We talk about graduate intake but really a lot of decisions are made early in life on about what subjects to take and which way to go,” said Thakur.
“I strongly believe that working with schools through the STEM process will start to change that. It is not that the industry tends to hire more men, there are just less women looking for roles in technology.
“We will be doing more as a company and personally I will be doing more to look at how we can partner more with the school system to drive a better outcome for the future.”