For Karen Quintos, taking on gender diversity was a personal passion she was happy to add to her list of responsibilities at Dell, where she’s not only Chief Customer Officer and the highest ranking female executive, but also leading the charge for diversity and inclusion.
Both of these values certainly took center stage during her keynote at Fairygodboss’ first-ever summit, “Galvanize: Making Employee Resource Groups Powerful,” on Thursday (November 2) morning. Quintos spoke to not only her commitment to promoting diversity, but also her belief that innovation is fueled by it. And, as a mover and shaker, that holds appeal in and of itself.
“I’m committed to changing the game in technology,” Quintos explained before going into detail about her mission and what started this venture for her.
Along with two of her peers, she created the first Women in Action ERG group at Dell. Since its creation, other groups have sprouted up at Dell workplaces across the world, with more than a 200% increase in women involved in these Women in Action resource groups.
And with this growth, the conversation about diversity and inclusion has opened up exponentially.
“We’ve moved past ‘do we have to prove diversity matters?’ to being more in the ‘how’ phase now,” she explained.
To further this point, she shared a story about a time she asked customers what they wanted to see more of in the company’s structure. The answer? An overwhelming call for more diversity in thought leadership opportunities.
This drove Quintos to invest even more heavily in Dell’s initiatives and programs for diversity, corporate responsibility, and inclusion. Not just because it was the right thing to do, but because – as their customers proved — doing so also drove business growth.
Relatedly, Quintos urged attendees to approach their employee resource groups in a similar fashion.
“How do we use these groups to deliver business value?” she asked. “I find our resource groups to be invaluable sources for focus groups. Used the right way, these groups can be an invaluable business resource.”
It’s now vital, she continued, that we allow these employee resource groups to evolve by asking different kinds of questions. ERGs must move beyond networking and socializing — though that’s important, as well, for company culture — and move into a forum where they discuss ideas and innovations that could deliver actually substantive business value. In this way, women, people of color, and other marginalized groups can get their voices heard by company leadership.
“Social unrest wears many hats, and we need to have these tough conversations,” Quintos said. "We need to be able to provide spaces where you can have conversations.”