Inside D,E&I success at Lenovo
But there’s always a need to strive for more progress.
Why You Should Care
Tech giant Lenovo has received numerous accolades for its D,E&I.
UNLEASH sat down with its chief diversity officer Calvin Crosslin to find out what makes Lenovo special.
Find out why the D,E&I work is never done and what Lenovo is prioritizing in the near future.
American-Chinese tech giant Lenovo is a great place to work for all. Everyone, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities, can “come here and be their authentic selves”, Lenovo’s vice-president of HR and chief diversity officer Calvin Crosslin tells UNLEASH.
There’s a real “sense of community”, and a feeling that “people are accepted and embraced for their differences”. “We really do have a truly global culture”, and that makes Lenovo special and unique for Crosslin.
We don’t have to just take his word for it; Lenovo employees agree that it is a truly diverse and inclusive place to work.
Crosslin is thrilled that in the latest ‘Lenovo Listens’ employee survey, which is run by Mercer, the number of employees answering questions around diversity, equity and inclusion (D,E&I) grew from 89% to 94%; the highest yet.
The types of D,E&I questions that Lenovo asks are threefold: Lenovo has created an environment where people of diverse backgrounds can succeed, I am treated with respect at Lenovo, and at Lenovo all employees are treated equally and fairly.
Lenovo’s status as a diverse employer is further proved by the numerous accolades it has received – mainly of these are based on employee feedback.
One example is that for the fourth year in a row, Lenovo has been listed in Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index, and performed particularly well in its inclusive culture, gender equality in its talent and leadership pipelines, as well as anti-sexual harassment policies.
Moving away from gender, for the second consecutive year Lenovo was ranked as one of the best places to work for disability inclusion.
Lenovo was ranked on the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Companies for LGBTQ+ inclusion for the fifth year in a row, and recently signed the Workplace Pride Declaration of Amsterdam. This commits Lenovo to funding LGBTQ+ programs and employee resource groups, as well as measuring progress around inclusiveness.
Engaging the right stakeholders on D,E&I
This impressive array of diversity awards beg the question: how does Lenovo do it?
First of all, since 2018, all D,E&I initiatives are overseen by a diversity and inclusion board. It is comprised of ten senior leaders from Lenovo’s executive committee – they represent different geographies, business groups and corporate departments.
In fact, seven report directly to Lenovo’s CEO and chairman Yang Yuanqing who is personally focused on environment, social and governance success.
The idea is to lead from the top to drive accountability across the company, as well as provide a vision for inclusion, through quarterly meetings and on-going communications.
Crosslin and his D,E&I team also partners very closely with the wider HR team – there is awareness that HR is a crucial partner in the business actually being able to walk the walk on inclusion.
“D,E&I is now an essential skill that every HR practitioner should have in their HR toolbelt,” notes Crosslin.
“It is not a responsibility just to be owned by the D,E&I team, but integrated through the entire HR organization and into the business to fully immerse within the company culture.”
This is why in 2021 his D,E&I team launched a program called HR D,E&I champions – in the program, the diversity team trained HR leaders on the basics of inclusion, including how to facilitate inclusive and courageous conversations with managers and employees.
Embracing diversity in promotions, as well as hiring
The D,E&I team at Lenovo also has a close partnership with the talent acquisition organization – this ensures that Lenovo’s diversity commitments are reflected in recruitment strategies.
Lenovo is on a mission “to make sure our workforce looks like that of our customers [and] that our talent reflects that of availability in the marketplace”, explains Crosslin.
This is particularly important at executive leadership level – leaders must not only reflect the employee base, but society at large.
When the tech giant exceeded its goal of having 20% female executive representation globally, it didn’t rest on its laurels, it set a new target of 27% by 2025. The same happened in the US, and now Lenovo is working towards moving from 29% to 35% representation of minority racial groups by 2025.
Currently, Lenovo’s global workforce is 36% women, and employer is on a mission to ensure that a third of all candidates presented to hiring managers are women and 15% come from under-represented backgrounds.
The reasons behind diverse hiring success at Lenovo is that “our talent acquisition organization has specific goals around diverse slates of candidates”, notes Crosslin. “We look at that data monthly to see if we are in fact presenting diverse slates of candidates, if we are going to non-traditional places to recruit”.
Of course, it is not enough to just have diverse talent inside Lenovo, “we recognize we must foster a strong pipeline of diverse talent” by providing the right learning and development (L&D) support. This will further help Lenovo drive progress around representation at executive levels.
Standout examples include the women leadership development program, which was created in 2014, a new courageous leadership program that aims to help senior managers in the US move up to director level and a newly launched CARE model within the L&D team.
According to Crosslin, “the CARE model is really focused on nurturing inclusive behaviors” – it defines and encourages action around four behaviors: communicate across differences, act in allyship, recognize and mitigate bias and ensure psychological safety.
“We want people to understand what they are, and how you grow those skills, particularly as leaders”, he adds.
Looking beyond Lenovo
For Crosslin and Lenovo in general, having a diverse workforce is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do – it brings a real competitive advantage in “everything from ideas and innovation to revenue and market share”.
Having a diverse workforce enables Lenovo to produce cutting-edge products for everyone – D,E&I provides “various lens in which we look at problems and look at solutions”.
Lenovo lives and breathes this through its Product Diversity Office, which aims to “make sure our products are accessible and there’s innovation in those products for people of all abilities, both neuro and physical”, adds Crosslin.
The business case for diversity is clear at Lenovo because the top thing that candidates and employees, but also investors, ask Lenovo about is D,E&I. The second is the Lenovo Foundation.
“Lenovo’s investor relations team has received a huge uptick of interest” around what the employer is doing around social responsibility. Plus employees always want to know what Lenovo is doing around D,EI at work, as well as giving back to society.
Crosslin himself links internal D,E&I strategy to the Lenovo Foundation – as well as being the tech giant’s chief diversity officer, he is the president of the Lenovo Foundation.
The Lenovo Foundation was formally created in 2018, and it aims to educate and empower under-represented populations. “It really is an extension of what we do internally around ouR technology” – Lenovo uses the foundation to give away products and to provide financial support to charities and non-profits.
In addition, 75,000 Lenovo employees volunteer and share their skills and expertise with charities. Workers are encouraged to do eight hours of volunteer time per quarter – they are paid for this time.
The future of D,E&I at Lenovo
One, final element of Lenovo’s attitude towards D,E&I is not resting on your laurels, and always striving for more progress.
“We’ve been on a journey for a while internally,” states Crosslin. “We’ll continue on that journey”, particularly around driving more equal representation at executive levels, plus in more technical STEM fields. “The more technical you are, the more challenges around representation”, states Crosslin.
Lenovo is on a mission to continue to improve its disability inclusion. While it received a score of 90% on the Disability Equality Index in 2022, obviously, the maximum is 100%, and Lenovo is focused on improving its disability inclusion even further.
In its eight biggest markets globally, between now and 2025, Lenovo is doing an internal assessment of disability inclusion – this involving looking at the International Labour Organization’s metrics, and exploring issues like what disability means in different geographies, the accessibility of buildings and Lenovo’s products.
Crosslin is really proud that with two years until the deadline, the assessment is complete in all but one market (Japan). Next Lenovo is going to analyze the data, and establish action plans to drive progress.
Another continued focus for Lenovo is on its products – this links back to the Product Diversity Office. “The products that we are developing must be accessible to all”.
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Allie is an experienced business journalist and can be reached at email@example.com.