A Conversation with VMware Diversity and Inclusion


Imagine a California-based tech company, nestled neatly within the heart of modern tech, among many others of its kind. However, this company is unlike any of its peers: it’s a hub of innovation that’s largely unprecedented. Even when VMware, a subsidiary of Dell, was first founded in 1998, it was committed to reimagining the way that the digital world interacts with businesses. Since then, VMware has innovated revolutionary technologies and digital products, such as the recently launched PKS system, for managing container-orchestration systems.

However, perhaps the most revolutionary innovation that VMware has introduced to the tech sphere is their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Members of Gender Balance Consulting had the opportunity to speak with Amber Boyle and Ray Parr of VMware’s Diversity and Inclusion team. We were able to learn more about their team’s multi-pronged approach to addressing systemic barriers in the workplace that women and underrepresented minorities face in the tech industry.

Both Boyle and Parr specialize in diversity and inclusion. VMware believes that promoting diversity of background and thought is an essential part of the long-term sustainability of a company. Their team is dedicated to developing programming that aligns with business strategy.

Parr oversees VMware’s Power of Difference Communities, or PODs, which take the traditional image of employee resource groups seen at many modern companies and takes it a step further.  “PODs are catalysts for an inclusive culture and they regularly provide us with feedback from our employees,” says Parr. PODs seek to not only serve as a place for feedback, but also a place for community and collaboration, and a means to apply intersectionality in the workplace.

Boyle, on the other hand, focuses on the overall strategy and enabling business-led efforts. VMware first started these efforts by establishing a business council focusing on our diversity data. This approach enabled leadership engagement, business action plans, and accountability.  In her words, “Our initiative is a cultural transformation that focuses on business decisions and delivers results. VMinclusion is a strategic business initiative, not a program driven by HR. Everyone at VMware owns our D&I goals and we are excited to see real momentum building here.”

Their efforts extend beyond the company’s internal operations, too. VMware recently endowed the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab  at Stanford University, a symbol of their commitment to leveraging research to drive actionable change. For over five years, the tech company has been collaborating with the University to bring cutting edge research into its strategic efforts. Not only does this make the current workplace climate more inclusive, but also helps to advance the conversation externally and works to ensure that the next generation of workers will be even more inclusive than those before it.

VMware marks one important leader in a rising trend of reimagining D&I efforts internally within the tech sphere. More students are beginning to explore the intersection of business and technology, due to the increasing prominence of operations and project management roles at growing companies. With this in mind, we can look to the relationship between VMware and Stanford to inspire more collaboration between industry and academia. It was an honor to hear more about VMware’s efforts as students ourselves, who are interested in pursuing similar endeavors. Truly, there’s more to innovate within business than software updates.