Building the business with a diverse workforce
Building the business with a diverse workforce By Sumir Bhatia, President, Lenovo Data Centre Group Asia Pacific and Site Leader, Lenovo Singapore
Sumir Bhatia (fourth from left)
While it is important to understand how a company can support and promote diversity, it is important first to understand why it is important.
For example, one key area is the world of artificial intelligence. When developing biometric solutions or smart devices, a diverse data set is needed to serve a diverse population of both men and women around the world. In our AI solutions, we account for the different facial structures and finger sizes of men and women, as well as skin colours and voices. We are putting special attention on developing this diverse data set.
Another area where diversity is crucial is in reframing our understanding of our customer market. In the volatile consumer PC market, gaming is one bright area. What if we could access the growing market of female gamers? For this reason, in Asia Pacific, this year we launched the “Legion of Valkyries”, an online gaming tournament which aims to support women in the gaming community.
In order to ensure we capture these opportunities, our own diversity within the company must reflect the goals we set. One of the biggest moves our company has made in its growth of diversity & inclusion in the last five years is our commitment to transparency, and holding ourselves accountable through the publication of our global Diversity and Inclusion report.
Our reporting reveals that there is still a long way to go for Lenovo, similar to much of the technology industry. Currently 18.5% of our executives are women worldwide, and we have set a goal to have 20% women executives.
To improve these figures, we have established both global and local partnerships. We formed a global partnership with Women’s Forum the Economy and Society, which held its first Asia Pacific level activity in 2019, in Singapore, with the participation of more than 30 female employees from Asia Pacific.
Additionally, Lenovo established the Women’s Leadership Development Program (WLDP) in 2014. This serves as a global corporate initiative for advancing high-potential female directors into executive roles. Since its inception, the program has promoted 33% of participants to executive roles and in the past three years we saw a 30% increase of global female executive representation.
Female Lenovo leaders representing nearly every market in Asia Pacific met in Singapore on September 20, 2019, for the establishment of Women in Lenovo Leadership, or WILL, a programme that supports female employees in the company. WILL is Lenovo’s longest standing employee resource group, founded in 2007 and since expanded and flourished worldwide, now activated in more than 40 countries. Three executive sponsors support WILL in Asia Pacific and I am proud to be one of them.
Externally, our CSR programs also target diversity. In Australia, we have signed a long-term partnership to support Code Like a Girl, an organization that hopes to close the gender gap in technology. In India, we’ve established the Lenovo/Motorola Skills Academy to provide access to training and a better income for unemployed youth and women. We support three skill development centers providing vocational training to differently abled youth, three digital centers in Tier 2 and 3 cities in India. We are monitoring the increase of reach in adolescent girls and women accessing digital literacy through these centers. In Singapore we have a partnership with Singapore Association of the Visually Impaired that helps subsidise the fees for a government certification program in skills training thus enabling visually impaired youth secure future employment.
Finally, what’s also important is to know that our efforts are appreciated by employees and external stakeholders. In the FY 2019/20 annual Lenovo Listens survey, 87 percent of employees reported that they believe Lenovo fosters a community where individuals of any background can succeed, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, a four-point increase from the FY 2018/19 score. For the first time, Diversity Best Practice named Lenovo to its 2019 Inclusion Index.
We are looking forward to improving all of these figures – because it’s what’s best for our business.