Listening and leading: HP’s new Chief Diversity Officer explains why he’s seeking insights from every employee

Glenn Williams also offers his insights on why diverse teams create better products and services, the importance of closing the digital divide, and why we need in-person interactions.

By Laura Petrecca — October 13, 2023

Throughout his nearly 20-year career, Glenn Williams has worked for a range of  large multinational organizations, from the US Army to the oil and gas industry to tech. Yet, there’s been one common thread throughout: his desire to have a positive impact on people through policy, culture, and action.

“When you work in human resources, you get to interact with people, help them solve problems, and make a difference in their lives,” says Williams, who joined HP as SVP, human resources and chief diversity officer in May. “I’ve known some great HR people during my time, and I know how big of an impact they can have. I want to have that same impact.”

He now has a prime opportunity to do that, as HP is working toward some ambitious diversity goals.  


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Williams has spent the first part of his tenure at HP on a listening tour. In less than four months, he has met with almost every HP leader and visited nearly every US location. He’s now embarking on office visits  where he’s looking to meet with key partners from the company’s Business Impact Networks and to glean insights and ideas from employees worldwide.

“All these people will be integral to achieving our goals,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re creating a culture of inclusion, our processes are fair, and we highlight and celebrate different communities.” 

The Garage sat down with Williams to learn more about his new role, get details on his background, and hear his thoughts on recent DE&I and technology trends.  

Looking back on your career, what are some of the most important things you learned?

When I was in the Army, I learned how to get things done. That’s something that’s drilled into you. There are no excuses. Later, at Amazon, where I ran everything from competitive intelligence to DE&I to talent acquisition for the consumer organization, I learned about the selling points that can help attract diverse employees. Once I moved to Qualcomm, I was able to put everything together to have some really great DE&I results, which then led me to HP.

What attracted you to the role at HP?

HP has always been at the forefront in talking about its values. It has this pioneering ‘we’re going to do what’s right’ and ‘we treat our people the right way’ stance. Now that I’m here, I realize those values were instilled by the founders and passed down. Our current leadership, led by [CEO] Enrique [Lores], takes that to heart. Look at how diverse our leadership team is. They’ve all come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. That helps to create an organization where everybody feels they can bring their entire, authentic selves to work.

Glenn Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at HP.

Glenn Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at HP.

 In recent years, many companies invested in hiring diversity experts. Yet, some have retrenched as they look to cut spending. What are your thoughts about the pullback?

Unfortunately, because of the atmosphere, some companies are feeling pressured to run away from diversity, equity, and inclusion. But here at HP, we’re not running away. We’re doubling down. I’ve increased the size of my team. We’re working to have a centralized message around diversity. HP’s leadership has allowed me to look at everything, synthesize it, make it more efficient and effective, and operationalize some of the siloed projects that we’ve been doing. That takes investment. That takes true leadership.  

How can remote or hybrid work potentially affect an employee’s sense of inclusion and belonging? 

At HP, we’re trying to find a happy balance, a medium where people can come into the office when needed and have opportunities to meet with coworkers and clients. At the same time, we need to leverage the innovative power of technology to ensure employees feel connected, included, and seen and heard wherever they are working. We, like all companies, are trying to figure out the best path forward. The main thing we need to do as an organization is listen. We need to work with our employees to ensure the solutions work for everybody.

What are some of the most pressing diversity and inclusion challenges within the tech industry today? 

A big one is making sure we have the pipeline of talent for the jobs of the future. Another significant one is making sure technology doesn’t have inherent biases. For instance, artificial intelligence can learn bias. We must guard against that. We also need to make sure technology is useful for everybody and not just for some. And that’s why diversity within teams is so important. Then, the people working on products and services can help to ensure all customers are taken into consideration.

What do you plan to focus on first at HP?

There are a few areas that I want to focus on in my time here at HP and to make sure that we continue to progress. A lot of our programs are US-centric.

I want to make sure that we grow our global footprint as the company continues to grow DEI alignment. I want to ensure we are working towards a single strategy to push DEI forward and that we’re not doing redundant work. I think that we have been doing a great job here, but if there are some pockets where people don’t feel as included, I want to make sure that HP is a place that everybody believes they can bring their full selves to work.

How does inclusion and equity plan into an increasingly digital society?

The world is becoming so much more interconnected. If we have groups of people who are left behind, it’s hard for them to catch up. So, HP is looking at communities that have historically not been given the opportunities to participate in the global economy. Through our sustainable impact initiatives, we are working to make sure that nobody’s left behind and aim to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people by 2030. If every community can benefit from the digital revolution, it will make the world a better place.


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