It’s a long-running, but not really funny, joke that the best thing about being a woman at a tech conference is there’s never a line for the restroom.
Men discovering lines for the restrooms at a tech conference. Welcome to our world for a visit.
— Karen López (@datachick) May 10, 2017
But yesterday at Dell EMC World there was a line for the Women Advocating for Change luncheon. The room was full and there was a waiting list!
Both Dell and EMC have historically held women’s luncheons at their customer conferences, so the popularity of this event, like so much else at Dell EMC World, is a realization of being better together.
It’s also a testament to the fact that our customers want this. I sat next to one woman who was there because as the only female pre-sales engineer at her company, she welcomed the opportunity to mingle with other women in the tech industry. Encouraging that sort of opportunity is not just a once-a-year thing for our company, though.
Dell Technologies’ people strategy is centered on building diverse, inclusive teams that make our global team members feel valued, engaged and inspired to do their best work in service of our customers and communities. It’s earned Dell a seventh year on Diversity Inc.’s Top 50.
And it starts at the top. Yesterday’s luncheon wasn’t packed with just women. There were several “smart men,” as our guest speaker called them, also in attendance – including Michael Dell who graciously accepted many selfie requests while there.
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and the recognition,” Dell, who chairs our Global Diversity Council himself, told the crowd. “But we could do a lot more and that’s clearly our objective.”
I asked one of the other men in attendance what brought him to the event and the thought of what the future holds for his daughter was his answer. He’s just one of our customers that Chief Customer Officer Karen Quintos says have told her they care about the issues of diversity and inclusion. She noted that they want to work with a partner who reflects them and their values.
To help inspire attendees, Quintos brought to the stage Americaʼs First African American Female Combat Pilot Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour. She’s certainly able to understand what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field.
One of my main takeaways from her motivational message was the “tangibility of the possibility” and how important it is for women to be role models for future generations. Armour shared how she would have never thought to become a pilot if she had not seen another black woman in flight gear at a career day.
So it’s heartening to think that all of these women at Dell EMC World will be going out there showing young girls that they can have a career in the tech industry. Then one day they’ll have the good fortune to endure waiting in line for the restroom at conferences like this.