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Implementing Workplace Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Starts At The Top | Sharra Owens-Schwartz


Guest: Sharra Owens-Schwartz (LinkedIn)
Company: Rocket Software (Twitter)

Research has shown that organizations with more diversity in the C-suite frequently outperform those that do not. Yet, progress is slow and greater awareness and education is needed around the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. From there, organizations need to build processes and procedures to support these initiatives and bake it into their company culture.

In this episode of TFiR Mainframe Matters recorded at the Open Mainframe Summit in Philadelphia, Swapnil Bhartiya catches up with Sharra Owens-Schwartz, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Rocket Software, to discuss the DEI challenges in the workplace and insights into how organizations can become more inclusive.

Key highlights from this video interview:

  • The mainframe community has several generations in the workforce. Owens-Schwartz says while it is exciting to have such a diverse group of people, the complexity of having varying levels of identity around age, race, gender, ability, and sexual orientation has become a business imperative.
  • The mainframe is built and run by people. For companies to grow, Owens-Schwartz believes they have to be innovative, engaged, and willing to invest in people as individuals. When people feel included, they perform better and make better decisions.
  • Making Our Strong Community Stronger is a collaborative initiative with Rocket Software, Broadcom, BMC, IBM, Virtual Z Computing, Tech Channel, and Open Mainframe Project coming together to raise awareness and education within the mainframe industry on diversity, equality, and inclusion.
  • Owens-Schwartz discusses the goals of the initiative and how they are achieving these through webinars on topics such as neurodiversity.
  • She explains the importance of psychological safety, where people can be their authentic selves and express their ideas and not be penalized for being different or saying something different. She discusses the importance of building a foundation for psychological safety so that we can embrace our many differences.
  • CEOs need to be onboard diversity, equality, and inclusion since the rest of the organization, from the executive team down to the managers and workers, will follow. Practices, procedures, and processes need to be in place within the organization.
  • Although men and women take up half the population, we still see an over-representation of men, particularly white men, in the C suite. Owen-Schwartz would like to see more women, particularly women of color.

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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