In the wake of the murder of George Floyd 2020 and the social upheavals that followed, the hundreds of HP employee volunteers who joined an inaugural Racial Equality and Social Justice Task Force gathered not only to learn from each other, but to actively shape the strategy to break down barriers within the company.
Across the country, the desire and commitments for change were extraordinary and promising — from companies donating unprecedented funds to antiracist causes to venture capitalists directing dollars to invest in Black-owned startups. And at HP, the Task Force set an agenda and penned bold goals for the company, like doubling Black and African American technical representation and doubling the number of Black and African American executives by 2025.
The company is making early progress, says HP’s Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown. HP has increased the composition of Black and African American executives (in VP roles and higher) by 33%, and is gradually growing Black and African American technical representation.
“We have more work ahead of us to reach our goals and meaningful progress takes time,” she says. “It’s energizing and inspiring to see the enthusiasm and action from employees to help sustain the racial equity movement internally, and with their support as well as our leaders’ dedication, we feel confident we will continue to make strides.”
The Task Force aims to drive sustainable impact in racial equality by working across three main areas: People, Industry, and Local and National Influence. These focus areas have spurred some remarkable new local and national conversations and programs for HP, many of which came to life with the dedication of employees. One such example is last year’s HBCU Technology Conference, an idea conceived by Boz Bell, an HP account manager. Students, faculty and IT-staff and administration across 74 HBCUs joined the conference to gain latest insights into digital transformation.
Other initiatives were launched with the intention of putting rigor around specific benchmarks, such as aiming to have 10% of supplier account teams be Black and African American by the end of this year and shrink the digital divide in rural and urban communities by supporting state and federal legislative funding.
Below are just a small sampling of programs that have emerged from the Task Force’s work over the past 18 months.
Partnering for STEM education
The Channel Partner chapter of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force partnered with the Austin, Texas Boys & Girls Clubs to deliver digital equity tools and programming, including more than 800 refreshed PCs, personalized laptop boxes, and laptop sleeves as well as 7,300 Turn to Learn Workbooks to students.