It seems like only yesterday, I was sitting in a Consumer Sales training class as a 24 year old temporary hire. In less than a month, I will celebrate 19 years at Dell Inc., and I have never been prouder than I am today to work for this incredible organization. One of the many reasons for that is since my very first day I felt I could be myself.
One of the best compliments I received from a colleague went something like this, “Erik, I never met a gay person before I met you, but you made it so easy because you just casually talked about your life like anyone else: What you do in your free time, how you and your partner spend your time, you play in a gay tennis league. It took me by surprise at first, but then you just became Erik.”
Another great example is when we wanted to implement an LGBTQ Employee Resource Group (ERG) called Pride. It was 2001, I was a nervous, 26-year-old sales manager, walking into the boardroom with Michael Dell and his leadership team to get approval to form our new group. They wanted to know how this group would make a positive impact on the company. They listened intently to our presentation, asked good questions about membership and emphasized the importance of getting the best of our employees if they could be their true self. Before the hour was done, we had our approval. I will never forget that day and the happiness the four of us founding members felt. Pride was about to embark on an incredible journey.
Since then, Dell has been a global leader in LGBTQ workforce equality. Our Pride ERG started in the US and within the first 10 years, it would expand beyond borders, launching chapters in Europe, Latin America and Australia. Today Pride has chapters in over 20 countries, across every region and thousands of engaged members of the LGBTQ community as well as allies. Many of them will march in Pride parades in over 10 cities, proudly carrying the Dell banner reflecting back on what we’ve accomplished, as well as what we have ahead of us:
- When Dell Pride launched, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still military policy and domestic partnership benefits seemed impossible. However, Dell pioneered domestic partnership benefits and would quickly add same sex spouses to benefits packages when marriage equality passed in countries around the world.
- When Dell became aware that we had team members that were transitioning gender, a few brave HR and Legal team members created our first Transgender Toolkit. They also partnered with benefits to ensure our insurance coverage included the procedures to assist our colleagues in their transition at work. This Toolkit is now being shared around the world across the Dell Technologies family.
- Since 2002, Dell has been an active participant in Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a global nonprofit organization that partners with Top Fortune 500 companies building resources, content and hosting events to help other companies around the globe make similar strides in LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion. We have sent hundreds of team members to their events, we have hosted webinars on global best practices, Dell PRIDE sponsored a Forum in Sao Paolo last year with Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, and we participated in their Executive Forum where I had the pleasure of interviewing the former Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, the first out Lesbian Mayor of a major US City in front of 250 D&I, HR and Pride ERG Leaders and Allies.
- Pride also is committed to expanding support globally. There are still many countries where there LGBTQ inclusion is still a legal and societal challenge. Dell is partnering with organizations like Out & Equal and the HRC to bring key leaders of these communities into discussions surrounding the advancement of all human rights. In a few days, Dell is sponsoring a China roundtable with Out & Equal where LGBTQ and ally leaders will discuss advancing workplace inclusion within Chinese and multinational companies.
Our company’s purpose is to create technologies that drive human progress. Technology today enables every human to #beyourself and it celebrates who they are. In order for our customers to experience our values, we must practice them. I congratulate all of our 140,000 team members for practicing our purpose every day by celebrating our diversity, treating one another with respect and working together as a team of many colors to exceed our goals and help our customers thrive.
Diversity is the fabric of Dell Culture Code. It’s not what we do, but it’s who we are. Dell Pride is celebrating Pride Month, not just as an ERG, but as a company. A company that wants to empower everyone to #beyourself, creating a culture where all team members belong and encouraging innovation in new ways. With that I ask you all to tweet, post, snap, Instagram, chat, etc. about what being yourself means to you, #beyourself #PrideatDell.
And because of the support we have received, the Dell Pride ERG commits to collaborating across our company, leveraging our knowledge and dedication, to add additional customer value, utilize data that leads to stronger customer engagement and provide leadership programs to ensure EVERY team member is given an equal shot at success.
This is Diversity meeting Technology meeting Our Customers which continues to give Dell the competitive edge. Happy Pride Month #beyourself #PrideatDell!