VMware’s Office of the CTO Celebrates International Women’s Day

VMware has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the efforts can be seen through our VMinclusion initiative including a robust effort to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities within the company, as well as programs, trainings, and groups to create an inclusive workplace for all.

Further to those efforts, VMware’s Office of the CTO is also committed to making its organization a diverse and inclusive community. With support and engagement at all levels – from our CTO Greg Lavender to individual contributors, to even our business partners from Talent Acquisition and Human Resources – the whole OCTO community is making steps every day to build a culture that fosters diverse thinking, inclusive behaviors, and an overall acceptance and understanding of others. While we view our D&I efforts as a marathon and not a sprint, I’m grateful to be part of a team that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion – both in the workplace and in society. Here in OCTO, we don’t just talk about it, we’re trying to do something about it!

As part of this work, VMware’s Office of the CTO is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day (IWD) is recognized annually on March 8th as a day to celebrate the successes of women around the globe and highlight the continued efforts for gender equality. This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “Each for Equal.” While encompassing many aspects of the work towards greater gender equality, “Each for Equal” highlights specifically the importance of individual actions towards a common goal. To quote the IWD website:

The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of ‘Collective Individualism.’ We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world. We can all choose to be #EachforEqual. 

For International Women’s Day, and in the spirit of Collective Individualism, I interviewed Amanda Blevins and Eric Betts, two OCTO employees who are part of our organizations’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. This committee is employee-lead and strives to be a leading and unifying force behind all efforts underway to make OCTO a diverse and inclusive community. Amanda and Eric shared their perspectives on gender equality, OCTO’s diversity and inclusion work, and the impact we all can have – as individuals and as a group — on the world around us.

 

Amanda Blevins (she/her/hers)

Senior Director & Chief Technologist, Advanced Technology Group

 

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

International Women’s Day is important to me because my privilege in life and through my employment at VMware has placed me in a position be a voice for equality for all women. Women, non-binary genders, and all underrepresented minorities do not have equal opportunities in technology fields nor in society. All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. International Women’s Day is about recognizing the struggle women still face and taking action to correct injustices.

What can we all do to increase gender equality and make a difference as individuals?

There are two things we all can do. First, we can learn, understand, and internalize the experiences that those of different genders face. By doing this, we are able to empathize with how impactful being discriminated against is. Though we might not be able to feel the depths of others’ experiences and emotions, it will become clear how damaging the wrongs they face are.

Empathy is very powerful. It will drive us to the perform second action that we can all take – being an ally. Being an ally is standing up for anyone that is being marginalized and saying, “that’s not okay.” An ally is someone who, regardless how they identify, supports others. They lift up those who are treated unfairly and without respect. Without everyone being an ally, we will not obtain equality for all.

Do you have any experiences you wish to share around gender equality at work?

I have had times when I was not treated with respect and dignity as a woman in technology. In one of those instances, I had a manager that stopped a meeting to address the behavior that was occurring. His actions set the tone for any future interactions I would have with colleagues and others. Before that moment, I hadn’t experienced allyship in a visible, professional setting. I was filled with gratitude and a renewed inspiration to do the same for others.

Why did you join the OCTO D&I Committee?

Diversity and inclusion are very important to me. Without equality, teams will be imbalanced, biased, and not as effective or successful as diverse teams. Everyone has different skills and talents and must feel comfortable being authentic. If someone truly feels that they belong and are safe, then they are freed to put all their energy into being creative, high-performing, and successful. The Office of the CTO leads innovation at VMware, and we must also lead in innovation for diversity and inclusion.

While International Women’s Day is specific to women, diversity and inclusion extends far beyond gender. All people are important, and I’m proud that VMware has representation for many under-represented groups in our Power of Difference communities.

 

Eric Betts (he/him/his)

Director of Standards

 

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

I think it is important to have events like this which highlight women’s contributions to their professions and to the world. It would be great if we had true gender equality so we wouldn’t need to focus on just one day or one month for celebrating women’s accomplishments.  Ideally it would just be a part of society, unfortunately we’re not there yet.

What do you do to support gender equality?

I’ve always tried to view and treat people the same without regards to their gender. But it’s also good to recognize that people are different and value their unique differences and capabilities, instead of avoiding them. Differences exist among us; we should recognize, empower and amplify them.

When I was a people manager, I communicated that if anyone on the team wanted to attend a program or conference that focused specifically on women in the workplace, I would be fully supportive of it. Training, programs, and events are important for all of us, even if they do not focus on the technical aspects of our jobs.

How can other men support gender equality?

Be aware of what equality looks like, and always be aware of potential unconscious biases you might have and how they could influence your actions. Also, learn how to address moments of unconscious bias without either party feeling hurt or isolated. It’s important to know how to confront situations without offending anyone and turn them into teachable moments.

Why did you join the OCTO D&I Committee?

I’ve always had a passion for giving back and paying it forward. I’ve been fortunate to have some exceptional managers in my career and strive to help pave the way for the next generation whenever I can. Part of my focus is on helping youth and underrepresented groups in STEM based fields worldwide with the goal of building a pipeline for companies to hire from a diverse talent pool.

In 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa as part of the VMware Foundation’s Good Gigs Trek where we worked directly with teachers and students to enable new classroom technologies. It was a life changing experience as we got to know and understand their personal challenges at a deeper level. The students continued to learn and thrive, despite the limitations of their educational system.

What do you think we can do as individuals to make a difference?

If you hear, observe, or see something, do something!  You can get involved directly or address it after the fact. There is always an opportunity to address the situation and if possible, turn it into a teachable moment. Taking time to review what happened from another person’s perspective sheds light on the potential impact to others. Hopefully, by taking this approach would lead to increased awareness and to avoid similar situations in the future.

I encourage everyone to take a chance and reach out beyond your comfort zone: In your work or home life.

 

Authors note: I recently joined VMware’s Office of the CTO (OCTO) to drive the organization’s diversity and inclusion program, as well as strengthen OCTO’s talent strategy and intern program. I am delighted to participate in OCTO’s celebration of International Women’s Day, and I hope you enjoy the first of many posts focusing on diversity and inclusion.

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