Dell Technologies team members are an incredible force that shape our innovative and inclusive culture focused on delivering best in class experience for our communities and customers. Our team members span 180 countries, each bringing their individual, diverse talents to the team. Dell’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) connect these team members based on shared common backgrounds or interests. They provide personal and professional development through mentoring, volunteerism and community involvement. Currently there are 13 ERG’s across Dell Technologies with over 37,000 participating members, and growing every day. In fact, our Black Networking Alliance (BNA) ERG just recently expanded to South Africa, the first BNA outside North America.
Angela Allan, Senior Talent Acquisition Advisor, played an instrumental role in this expansion. She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and provides a unique insight into the need for this community within her region.
Can you provide more detail about BNA and its objectives?
BNA is one of the 13 ERGs that Dell Technologies offers team members. However, until our launch in South Africa, BNA was only available to people at eight US sites. Its goals are to help black professionals establish working relationships and business networks with peers and mentors within the Dell Technologies group.
When I joined Dell Technologies I was surprised that we didn’t have this ERG in South Africa given the dynamics of our country. Even though we became a democratic country in 1994 there are still significant levels of inequality. About 90 percent of the country’s 56.5 million population are non-white, and yet we live in a country where a vast majority of the population, mostly black, face unemployment and economic hardships.
Companies operating in South Africa must adhere to government criteria introduced to encourage greater equality. But the establishment of the BNA demonstrates that Dell Technologies is going beyond these criteria. Dell Technologies is creating a notable and meaningful change for our country and the people that call it home.
At Dell Technologies South Africa, from our 380+ team members, approximately 52 percent can be categorised as non-white. I feel proud that as an organisation we are working towards creating a more balanced workforce. Our vision globally for BNA is to be the top employer for black people. To deliver that vision the BNA ERG is built on four pillars: recruitment, retention, development and community outreach. I feel honoured and privileged to work with 17 core team members who look after those different pillars. Our executive sponsor is Doug Hubert Woolley, VP and GM Dell EMC South Africa, but none of this would be possible without the entire team.
Why is the BNA important to you personally and what made you want to get involved?
I was raised by a black mother who lived through Apartheid and was told that you can’t speak to white people in a certain way, you can’t be clear and frank about what you want, you need to watch how you carry yourself. Apartheid ended in 1994 but it still affects cultural attitudes where black people can feel afraid to speak out.
For me, BNA provides a platform where black people can come and share their difficulties and feel free to ask questions that they might feel uncomfortable asking their white colleagues.
I would also like to stress that BNA is not just for black people. It is also for all to join and hear what it is like to be black and get an understanding about the challenges we face. It will help everyone work better together.
I came from a poor family but was privileged to go to the best schools on scholarships. But there are a lot of black people who aren’t as privileged and perhaps they are not as outspoken as me, and I really want this ERG to help those people and to mentor them so that they are not afraid to state clearly what they want to achieve with their careers.
Is there a need for a Black Networking Alliance in other EMEA countries?
I think every country has diversity issues and ways to address them should be top of mind. Perhaps BNA would not speak to diversity issues in other EMEA countries, however there is a need for ERGs that are focused on a range of diversity topics such as women, disability and environmental issues amongst others. There is a requirement to investigate what each country would need. We are already receiving requests to potentially launch a BNA chapter in France and the UK. We are looking forward to working with other countries to help them set up their chapters
Although BNA is a global ERG there is a lot that needs to be done to tailor BNAs per county. But the one thing that is very clear is the vision of the ERG which is to make Dell the top employer for black people, so whatever that looks like in the different countries, we need to prioritise recruitment, retention, development and reaching out to communities.
What type of actions and activities are you working on or have planned?
We are having conversations with the core team about partnering with other ERGs. We received a request from True Ability to partner and help with hiring black disabled talent. From an activity point of view, we’re looking to partner with academic institutions to see how we can attract young black talent. From a community outreach point of view we’re looking to find ways to assist those that are less fortunate than us. We still need to work on what we will be prioritising over the year. Internally we are already working on way to mentor our current black talent locally through our retention and development pillars.
We’re really looking forward to a time when we hear that another multinational locally has launched. We would like other organisations to consider bringing in their ERGs to South Africa, we want to partner, we want black people who work for the competition to feel that they are cared about. When we do community outreach it would be great to partner and have greater levels of funding available to do things that will have a genuine impact on the country and look beyond the legal requirements.
To learn more about Dell’s diversity and inclusion programs, visit https://jobs.dell.com/diversity-and-inclusion.