How is your D&I strategy adapting to COVID-19 times?

The Austin technology sector is adjusting to the needs of employees in a global pandemic and simultaneously assessing how to respond to the largest social justice movement of our times. Some companies have a clear vision on both fronts while others are asking ‘what do we do now?’ But what if these two challenges are more closely linked than we realize?

Recent McKinsey research details why increasing investment in corporate Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives will be critical as we navigate the “new normal”. The authors note that “inclusion and diversity are at risk in the (COVID-19) crisis—but are critical for business recovery, resilience, and reimagination.” Organizations choosing to adapt and invest in smart D&I initiatives are far more likely to emerge from the health crisis with a competitive advantage.

What do smart D&I initiatives look like in COVID-19 times? Dell has long recognized the importance of investing in D&I. In 2019, Dell announced ambitious social impact goals, including a commitment to increasing diversity at all levels of the organization by the year 2030. To address the need for leadership development and networking when employees are remote, Dell and Abilitiean Austin-based leadership development company, created a virtual leadership development program for members of Dell’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). The 12-week, online mini-MBA provides educational opportunities to emerging leaders while expanding their professional network and business acumen. The part-time program includes an action-learning project with Dell executives, small study-groups, case-study discussions with Ivy League mentors, and competitive business simulations. The interactive nature of the projects, discussions, and business simulations allow for meaningful interaction and learning online. 

But Dell’s smart D&I initiative goes further – to increase networking opportunities and foster collaboration among Austin’s emerging leaders, Dell opened up their Fall 2020 cohort to other Austin companies and is inviting a small number of non-Dell employees to join this leadership program (ATC members can find out more information on how to participate and enroll select employees by contacting Lindsey Schell at

Companies that invest in sending employees through these types of online leadership programs have the unique opportunity to move the needle on their D&I goals, develop a pipeline of qualified diverse leaders within their organization, and provide tangible career benefits to their employees. In doing so, they position themselves among the resilient companies in the “new normal”, post-pandemic.