Happy 2017 Pride Month!

This is not a tech post, and it’s a personal post.  Feel free to turn away right now!!! 

I always am quick to remind people, while it’s impossible to fully “separate” work and personal personas (after all, we are all each ONE person 🙂 Virtual Geek is a personal blog, and the words I write are mine and mine alone.

Still with me?  Ok!

Distinctly from leading the Converged Platform and Solutions efforts in Dell EMC – I’m also the exec sponsors of the Dell Pride Employee Resource Group.

With the June 1st start of Pride Month – I wanted to share publicly the internal message on June 1st, the start of Pride Month.   I’ve made a few additions here, but no cuts.   If you’re not a Dell employee – some of the links below won’t work (they are internal), but I wanted to keep them for any readers who didn’t get the email.

I really deeply, personally believe in the principle of treasuring diversity in all forms.   I believe it makes a society, a team stronger – just like biodiversity makes an ecosystem stronger.  Likewise, homogenous/non-diverse ecosystems are fragile, and struggle to deal with change. 

People sometimes ask me why I’m passionate on this topic. 

Yes, I have many friends and colleagues that are part of the LGBT+ community – but that’s not why.   Yup, I’ve learnt that paraphrasing the immortal MLK, it IS about the “content of their character” – people can be terrible humans or great humans regardless of color, sex, creed, nationality, you name it.   Goodness/badness doesn’t correlate with any of those things in my experience – but that’s still not why I’m passionate on this topic.

When I was in my teenage years, I was exposed to the seminal (though dated) Kinsey reports research from the 1940/50’s on human sexuality, and it was fascinating to me.   The Kinsey scale (since then many more studies have been done) showed that sexuality is a continuum and shattered the myth of the “binary” nature of sexuality.  

Sometimes using that work “sexuality” makes people squirm, but think about it – it is a fundamental part of being human, a fundamental nature of human existence, and something at the core of each of us. 

It’s not just humans either.   We see that much more complex “continuum” nature of sexuality in the whole natural ecosystem.  We see it across different eras, and different cultures.  So YES there has been change, and YES awareness and acceptance of this intrinsic nature of humanity has moved a lot in the last 50 years – this is not just a moment in time, a cultural point, as someone commented (yikes – some of the trolling gets DARK) on a post from last year – a “homo fad” 🙂

This learning in my teen years made me think about all the people struggling to be honest with themselves to fit into a “binary” state that just was not them.   Put simply, that would suck.  It would not be fair.   That’s why I’m passionate on the topic.

I know that publicly talking about topics some consider “morality” questions has some risk.   I do consider this a “moral” question – in the light of moral questions of fairness, and equality.   Why people hate (in any direction) on people/ideas who don’t hurt them I’ll never understand.   Disagree – totally get it.   Hatred – don’t understand.

It’s been interesting as an “accidental” public figure – when I’ve talked about International Women’s day (here, here) , or Pride Month (here, here) – yup, it generated some passionate dialog (it’s enlightening to read the comments), but I welcome the dialog.   I think talking, particularly with those that disagree – it moves ideas forward, and thus moves humanity forward.

Respect for diversity is principle is somewhat like freedom of speech – I respect the principle of diversity such that I respect the diverse views of people that disagree with me, and me with them, and I will fight vigorously for their right to disagree with me – so feel free to comment.   I don’t edit the comments on Virtual Geek, never have, and never will.

Happy Pride Month all – and without further ado, the internal comms that went to our Dell Pride ERG members…


Pause and reflect for a moment.

  • Do you believe fairness is important?
  • Do you believe equality is right?
  • Do you believe in personal freedom, in personal accountability?
  • Do you believe everyone should be free? Free to be the best version of the person they were born to be so long as they are not harming others in any way? Free regardless of who they were born, their sex, color, creed or otherwise?
  • In your experience – are the strongest teams made up of members that think the same way and have the same strengths and weaknesses? Or are the strongest teams the opposite – made up from people with all sorts of different points of view, but with shared goals?

Some think of diversity as a corporate buzzword. I don’t.

I think fairness, diversity are not only fundamentally the right thing to do, but also the right way to move teams, companies, countries, and humanity forward.

You can think of Pride Month in the historical sense:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June (and in some places into July) to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Pride month celebrations have expanded to many countries around the globe.

Personally, to me Pride Month means something a little different.

Yes, it is an LGBT+ event, in honor of the history of the sacrifices, the daily challenges overcome by so many. Pride Month is a celebration of the hard-fought progress the LGBT+ community has made over time – not a straight line, but a zigzag of 2 steps forward, one step back.

Perhaps more fundamentally, I think of it as a moment to reflect on the power of diversity, to reflect on our shared humanity, and to hug our friends, our families and colleagues.

Being LGBT+ isn’t a choice, isn’t a lifestyle, isn’t about morals. It’s who people are. I believe people should be free to be the most complete, the most honest, version of themselves – at home, at work, anywhere.

If you believe in fairness, in equality, in personal freedom – and in the strength of diversity – in all forms: sex, color, creed, you name it…. Then whether you know it or not, you are an LGBT+ ally. And, yes, that means respecting people who disagree with you – at the same time that you challenge them – fighting ideas with ideas. That’s how humanity as a whole moves forward.

It is an honor to serve as the Executive Sponsor for our newly integrated Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) for our LGBT+ team members and their allies. There is no limit to what we can accomplish now that the heritage EMC LGBT Advocates and heritage Dell Pride ERG have come together as one.

As I cut the virtual ribbon to commence Pride month celebrations across our company, I am excited about all of the great events and activities that our Pride chapters have planned around the world to inspire, commemorate, and educate our diverse community. There will be great parades in San Francisco, in Boston, in London, in Toronto and all around the world – but I encourage you to participate in some way around the globe, even if it’s just reflecting or talking about diversity and what it means to you with the people around you.

June 2017 will be the first time we celebrate Pride month together as a united ERG for our combined companies. We will be using our community page on Inside Dell to plan, share and recap all of our events during the month. Please be sure to:

  1. Add all of your planned Pride month events (parades, activities, etc.) on the community page to keep everyone informed.
  2. Post photos and recaps of your Pride events on the community page
  3. Invite your Pride members to wear something (Pride t-shirt, pin, etc.) on June 30 to show support and celebrate together.

To cap off Pride month for Dell, we are designating Friday, June 30, Global Pride Day!

I am thankful for everything we all do as part of this team to make our company stronger, better. Diversity and Inclusion is one of our important differentiators. Embracing each other for who we are, seeking to understand those who are different from us, valuing diverse perspectives…that’s how we win.   It’s not only about fairness, it’s also about competitiveness, the best brains, the best talent, period.  

It’s one of the reasons I’m so glad that Michael represented all Dell in signing the letter joining many other tech leaders fighting the discriminatory legal proposal in Texas.   It’s a totally silly, totally manufactured issue.   It makes Texas a less competitive business climate (something North Carolina found out the hard way).    Businesses and people want to be part of looking FORWARD, not looking BACKWARD.   There is NOT a crisis of people lurking in bathrooms.   Just chill everyone.   I used a co-ed bathroom for years and it was totally fine.  If you’re that insecure about that human in the stall beside you – maybe the issue is YOU.   Don’t we have more important things to do as a society than target these people?

The topic of the importance of diversity – this is not a NEW thing.

Michael was recently thanked by a 23-year Dell veteran who was retiring, and shared this recruitment ad from 1994. While the fact that people were asked to fax (!!) applications in may be a funny anachronism, the more important things – ideas & beliefs – haven’t changed – it’s part of our #CultureCode.

We believed in the power of diversity before it was cool – how cool is that!