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Recognizing its role: World Wide Technology leads by ‘including’

By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
macmeske@ibjonline.com

World Wide Technology recently took part in a three-year study with an intent and design to close the gap on DEIB by developing inclusive leaders. This study, known as The Great Transformation, was an initiative undertaken by a noted leader in workplace culture: Great Place to Work®. 

GPTW had hoped to “crack the code” on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) through its research and discoveries by working with World Wide Technology (WWT) and the 10 other organizations that were tapped to participate over the three years. WWT and the other organizations collectively represented more than 1.4 million employees. 

WWT’s program, “Inclusive Leadership,” focused on leveraging current initiatives that support the development of inclusive leaders across the organization, while expanding these same training opportunities to new managers and future leaders. Part of The Great Transformation initiative also included participation in GPTW’s annual “For All” Summit, where members of the executive leadership team led a breakout session focused on WWT’s listening sessions and employee storytelling programs. 

The Great Transformation fostered a powerful consortium across participating organizations, and WWT leveraged these relationships when hosting its inaugural DEIB Summit in July. The DEIB Summit featured several speakers and panelists from companies participating in The Great Transformation, including KPMG, Synchrony and Cisco.

Bob Ferrell

“Participating in The Great Transformation has provided WWT the opportunity to collaborate with a coalition of organizations focused on creating meaningful change around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Michael Bush and GPTW created a program that offered insight, support and fellowship, which ultimately enhanced our organization’s efforts,” said Bob Ferrell, EVP, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Public Sector Strategy, WWT. 

The Great Transformation initiative was a natural extension of WWT’s commitment to continuously invest in a culture of inclusion that drives shared value across its workforce, business and communities. 

“An organization is only as strong as its culture. That’s why WWT’s mission is to be a profitable growth company that is also a great place to work for all,” Ferrell further noted. 

“WWT’s culture and our success are inextricably linked. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are foundational to WWT’s culture. We’ve built it into the DNA of our organization through our Integrated Management & Leadership and the way we approach our relationships with our employees, customers, partners and how we engage with the communities in which we do business,” said Ferrell. 

Ferrell noted that fostering inspired employees is also part of WWT’s commitment to being a Great Place to Work. “This means ensuring everyone at WWT has the resources they need to be successful and have a strong sense of belonging,” he said. “Our listening session program, employee storytelling program, and employee resource groups support this effort. Emphasizing inclusion fosters an outcome where employees get meaning and inspiration from their jobs. That in turn fuels the innovation that drives the work we do for our clients, partners, and communities.”

When asked what the one thing that sets WWT apart in the industry in terms of being recognized as a “Great Place to Work” was, Ferrell said, “I think a lot of organizations talk about a commitment to being a Great Place to Work, but less are ‘walking the walk.’ In addition to our emphasis on DEIB, WWT has exceptional employee benefits from mental health and fertility and adoption support to banking and investment opportunities, college coaching, legal support, and even pet insurance. 

“WWT hasn’t raised employees’ healthcare premiums in 20 years, during which time the average premiums have increased 200 percent,” Ferrell added. “In addition to our benefits, WWT offers extensive employee development opportunities through Udemy and our internal leadership programs. Many of our employees can work from home part- or full-time based on what works best for them. Employees are offered opportunities to volunteer in their communities through Days of Caring or individually.

“All of that illustrates one thing that sets us apart: an authentic commitment to being a Great Place to Work,” said Ferrell.

“We are honored to continue enhancing our organization’s DEIB efforts through the Great Place to Work® pilot initiative, The Great Transformation. It has been incredibly beneficial to listen and learn from the other participating organizations and see the positive impact this initiative has had in helping us achieve our mission,” Ferrell added. 

WWT had still more news to help solidify its continued status as a “Great Place to Work.” 

At the 28th Annual Women of Color STEM Conference held in mid-October, eight of WWT’s employees were recognized as Technology All-Stars and Rising-Stars. 

This year’s WWT Women of Color STEM award winners included, in the Technology All-Star category: Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives & Operations Kim Miller-Anderson and Director of Communications Sandi Tolliver.

Jyothsna Rajyam

WWT honorees in the Technology Rising-Star category included: Senior Marketing Director Kristin Casey, Software Quality Engineer Krystin Hogan Pettaway, Strategic Engagement Manager-Strategic Resourcing Mia Hunt, Army Global Enterprise Modernization Software and Services (GEMSS) Customer Success Executive Rachel Gore, Managing Director of Public Sector Advisory Services Aparna Kumar and Professional DevOps Engineer Jyothsna Rajyam.

In conjunction with Women of Color magazine, this annual STEM conference helps women to advance their education and excel in their careers pertaining to the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The Women of Color STEM Awards has been recognizing the significant contributions of women in the STEM fields since 1995. 

Each year, judges select award recipients from a talented pool of promising new hires, mid-career professionals, managers and executives. The women recognized in the Rising-Star category are young women of color who have shown dedication to help shape technology for the future, whereas the All-Star category comprises accomplished women of color from mid-level to advanced stages of their careers who have demonstrated excellence in the workplace and in their communities. 

According to The World Bank, women make up less than one-third of the world’s workforce in technology-related fields. WWT continues to be heavily involved with several organizations aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, such as the BEYA STEM Conference which brings together military leaders, professionals and students to share their career experiences; and NAF to promote interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) related fields. The former National Academy Foundation is today known just as NAF.

WWT employs thousands of professionals in the STEM fields and believes in their ability to make a difference in the world through commitment, action and accountability. 

When asked how this industry recognition was important as a woman of color and in what was known previously as a predominantly male career field, WWT Professional DevOps Engineer Jyothsna Rajyam noted, “Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are very important factors to retention. Women are advancing in the workplace, but women of color still lag behind. 

“According to findings from LeanIn.org and McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2023 report, though there are modest gains of women’s representation throughout the corporate pipeline, women of color remain underrepresented,” Rajyam shared further. “It’s important for companies to address this inequity. It is remarkable to see how WWT’s commitment to finding diverse talent, including women of STEM who bring their unique experiences, background, and passions to their career, has resulted in awards such as this one.”

As for the impact recognition like this could have on the industry and its career potential for women as well as those of color, Rajyam said, “This recognition not only acknowledges my career accomplishments, as well as those of my fellow honorees at WWT, but emphasizes the importance of creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels valued, which will eventually lead to growth in women leaders.”

“I am extremely honored that my fellow colleagues thought highly enough of my work to nominate me for this award. I am humbled and honored to accept this award, not just for myself, but for the countless women of color who have broken barriers, defied expectations, and paved the way for future generations. This recognition has uplifted my confidence, motivation, and self-esteem, and inspired me to pursue higher goals and standards,” she shared further.

Founded in 1990, World Wide Technology (WWT), a global technology solutions provider with $17 billion in annual revenue, combines the power of strategy, execution and partnership to accelerate digital transformational outcomes for large public and private organizations around the world. 

Through its Advanced Technology Center, a collaborative ecosystem of the world’s most advanced hardware and software solutions, WWT helps customers and partners conceptualize, test and validate innovative technology solutions for the best business outcomes and then deploys them at scale through its global warehousing, distribution and integration capabilities.

With nearly 9,000 employees and more than 55 locations around the world, WWT’s culture, built on a set of core values and established leadership philosophies, has been recognized 12 years in a row by Fortune and Great Place to Work® for its unique blend of determination, innovation and leadership focus on diversity and inclusion. 

World Wide Technology’s global headquarters are located in Maryland Heights, Mo., and it has four North American Integration Center campus locations in Edwardsville as well as its Technology Campus in St. Louis. Visit online at www.wwt.com to learn more.

Photos courtesy World Wide Technology.

This story also appears in the December 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.

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