After college, Angelika Rothberg landed her dream job as an engineer at HP, one of the oldest and most-respected tech companies in Silicon Valley. She also landed at a company that prioritizes diversity and inclusion (D&I). In both her everyday work life and through HP’s D&I programs and initiatives, such as Belong at HP and the Pride Impact Network, Rothberg has had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with people from vastly different backgrounds than her—and as a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s found a workplace where she feels she truly belongs.
As a company, HP prides itself on leading the way when it comes to reimagining D&I in the workplace. And its impact on the tech world has not gone unnoticed. The Fortune 500 company has won numerous awards for its groundbreaking programs, including the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality and AnitaB.org’s 2019 Top Companies for Women Technologists.
From HP’s inclusive hiring practices to thoughtfully building the most diverse board of directors in tech, the company’s transformative initiatives have not only created a better employee experience but have also contributed to higher employee engagement and greater innovation.
Here are some of the ways HP is setting itself apart in the tech industry when it comes to D&I in the workplace.
Revamping Hiring Practices
Recognizing that all people have unconscious bias—assumptions that are unintentional or automatic—HP recently developed a training for all hiring managers to help reduce bias in the hiring process. “It includes tools and tips on how to remove bias from job descriptions and create diverse interview teams,” says Nan Weitzman, HP’s Head of Talent Acquisition. “We moved away from, ‘Oh, they went to XYZ school’ or ‘They’re coming from this company,’ and instead assessing candidate’s talent as our only criteria.”
At the end of HP’s 2019 fiscal year, women made up 37% of HP’s global workforce and 42% of all U.S. hires were underrepresented minorities. However, diversity in the workplace isn’t only about gender and race; it also encompasses education, sexual orientation, ability, veteran status, national origin, experience, and more.
In addition to a specific training for managers, all employees have the opportunity to go through the Belong at HP program to ensure they understand the impact of unconscious bias, recognize when their own biases arise, and take action to ensure their biases aren’t having a negative impact on inclusion.
And this was no ordinary HR initiative; in fact, it came from the company's CEO and board of directors. “The leadership team wanted to adopt an environment that recognizes that biases exist—but then do things to knock those down,” Weitzman says.
During the interactive training, employees from different backgrounds work together to share their experiences, identify their own biases, and work on ways to mitigate them going forward. “It was thought provoking, and not preachy at all,” Rothberg says. “It causes a lot of self-reflection but moves participants to change their behavior. By talking about my personal life and helping people get to know me on a more personal level, I’m actually changing people’s way of thinking.”
Championing Employee Resource Groups
HP prides itself on its large and active network of Employee Resource Groups, which are known internally as Business Impact Networks (BINs). These groups, which are a critical part of HP’s D&I ecosystem, are communities of employees who bring diverse perspectives and insights to build a workplace where everyone feels like they belong.
BINs are formed around the interests of underrepresented groups but open to everyone. The BINs provide employees the opportunity to gain leadership experience, develop critical skills, strengthen networks, and give back to the communities in which they live and work. “Employees are engaged to make each other more aware of the different cultures that exist within HP,” Weitzman says. Adds Rothberg, “It’s important to feel comfortable and happy where you work, and this type of environment was a huge selling point for me at HP.”
At the company’s Corvallis, Oregon campus alone, there are chapters of MultiCultural BIN, Women’s Impact Network, Multigenerational Impact Network, and Veterans Impact Network. Rothberg co-chairs the Pride (LGBTQ+) Impact Network.
Recently, the Corvallis Pride Impact Network compiled and published coming out stories shared by HP employees. They’ve also held training sessions and lunch-and-learn events that teach people about what LGBTQ stands for and the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. “We give people the space to ask questions about things they might not understand,” Rothberg says.
Promoting Multigenerational Collaboration
HP embraces the generational diversity of its workforce by recognizing that their multigenerational teams have helped lead to innovation and business success. In fact, it’s something Weitzman planned for her own team. “When I was building my team, I thought it’d be great for us to have team members from all different stages of their career working together,” she says. “It has helped us have a broader diversity of skills, experiences and perspectives, that we appreciate are in many ways shaped by our experiences during the time when we were raised, at the table.”
Rothberg, who graduated from college two years ago, has benefited from collaborating with more experienced employees on the engineering side. “As an employee early in your career, you’re most often working with people who’ve been in the workforce much longer, and we bring very different experiences and perspectives,” she says. “When you’re starting out, it can be hard to have the confidence to share opinions. But working closely with more experienced colleagues and making personal connections can help you get that confidence. It’s really important that everyone can share their thoughts because if not, you’re not going to make much progress.”
Creating a Diverse Board
In 2015, HP was created when the former company split into two entities. HP’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Tracy Keogh, stated this was a unique opportunity to create a new board of directors. With six vacant board spots, “we seized the opportunity to say, ‘Let’s do this, and do this right,” says Weitzman.
That meant sitting down and thinking about who they wanted to give a seat at the table. “We wanted to deliberately create a diverse leadership, bringing in people with different backgrounds, education, and work experience,” Weitzman says. “And we asked ourselves, ‘Who do we need in order to thrive?’”
The answer to that question ultimately resulted in what’s been called the most diverse board of a U.S.-based tech company—42% women, 33% underrepresented minorities, and 58% total minorities.
And this emphasis on the value of diversity has had a trickle-down effect on the company at large. “Our employees saw this and mirrored their teams in the same way,” Weitzman says. “It starts with the leaders believing in it and speaking about it and actually doing it. It’s part of the everyday conversation.”
Thoughtfully Choosing Vendors
It’s not enough that HP supports D&I initiatives within the company. Outside vendors must champion diversity and inclusion as well. Back in 2017, Kim M. Rivera, HP’s then general counsel and now President of Strategy & Business Management and Chief Legal Officer, alerted HP’s external law firms that if they didn’t improve diversity on the teams working on HP business, HP would withhold up to 10% of fees.
HP’s dedication to diversity and inclusion also extends to outside marketing vendors and its supplier programs. The company works closely with organizations supporting supplier diversity, including the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
“We want to drive business for these external suppliers because ultimately diversity breeds diversity—the more diversity in a supplier, the more diverse the work that’s coming out of what they’re doing,” Weitzman says.