Dell Technologies made incremental steps last year in its efforts to increase the gender and ethnic diversity of its workforce, according to new data released by the company.
In an annual company report, the Round Rock-based technology giant said 29 percent of its global workforce is made up of female employees, up 1 percentage point since its previous report, while 29 percent of its U.S. workforce is made up of black, Asian and Hispanic workers, up 2 percentage points since last year.
Additionally, Dell told the American-Statesman that the percentage of female managers at the company was 23 percent globally, the same figure as last year, and that people of color accounted for 21 percent of managers in its U.S. operations, up 1 percentage point from last year. Dell has more than 135,000 worldwide employees, with about 13,000 of those in Central Texas.
Dell executives say the company’s workforce diversity numbers — while not substantially different from previous years — are part of a more focused effort by the company to improve gender and ethnic diversity.
“Our numbers will continue to rise,” said Brian Reaves, Dell’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, who has been in that position since September. “Our focus is … understanding that more diverse companies have a greater chance to be above their peers. People are being more thoughtful about the choices they are making.”
Dell expressed a commitment to diverse hiring as far back as 2004, earlier than many tech companies. The company in recent years began an internal diversity and inclusion initiative that was first focused on anti-bias training but recently has expanded to include topics such as harassment, Reaves said.
Dell also continues to operate a program aimed at connecting female entrepreneurs to networks and sources of capital, and it has 13 resource groups within the company where employees can connect around similarities such as gender and ethnicity. Dell said more than 34,000 employees throughout the world have participated in the groups.
The technology industry has a history of being less diverse than other industries. Although woman make up about 48 percent of the total U.S. workforce, they represent about 35 percent within the tech industry, according to a study by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In Austin, an analysis of local workforce data last year by the American-Statesman found that at most major tech companies in town, women made up a third or less of the total employee count.
Leaders at tech companies often say the industry is suffering from a pipeline problem, and federal data does show that the amount of women graduating with computer science and engineering degrees decreased from 2004 to 2014.
But data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also show that despite 9 percent of graduates from the nation’s top 25 computer science programs being black, Latino or native American, those groups represent about 5 percent of the workforce at the country’s top tech companies. In total, Hispanic employees comprise about 8 percent of the tech workforce and black employees about 7.4 percent - both about half of their representation rate in the full U.S. workforce.
One of Dell’s greatest workforce challenges has been recruiting and retaining female and minority workers, Reaves said.
To that end, Dell has been piloting a program dubbed iRelaunch that focuses on workers who have left companies and are looking to re-enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
The company is also partnering with Northeastern University to sponsor a masters degree program in data management, computer science and cybersecurity for women and minority candidates.
Reaves said Dell’s goals are not focused so much on year-to-year comparisons as to what will make the company more diverse and inclusive long-term.
He said Dell plans to continue to expand its efforts in retaining female and minority workers and in promoting them within the company.
“I look at what’s going to be a sustainable growth and what are the things we need to do to become a sustainable company,” Reaves said. “What you will see moving forward is … we will be focused on the ‘why must we do it?’
“Because it’s business imperative.”