Lenovo celebrates EMEA diversity manager of the year 2023, Werner Schoeman

Lenovo Celebrates Werner Schoeman, Lenovo’s 2023 EMEA Diversity Manager of the Year and Shines a Light on How he has Brought Gender Balance to his Team in a Single Year

Lenovo’s EMEA Diversity Manager of the Year award is designed to recognise managers who model inclusive behaviour and embrace DE&I in their teams. Lenovo’s 2023 winner, Werner Schoeman, Relationship Sales Manager at Lenovo, South Africa, discusses the importance of fostering inclusive cultures and how he is actively building teams with gender diversity within the organisation.

Having been at Lenovo for nine years and recently being promoted to Relationship Sales Manager for South Africa, Werner delves into his experience of diversity and explains why he has made conscious and inclusive hiring such a focus in his role as manager.

Group of employees smiling in front of Lenovo logo and living wall

Why is diversity and inclusion so important to you personally?

I think, in part, it comes from being South African and growing up in such a diverse place with so many cultures, religions and languages. Being surrounded by this really resonated with me from a young age and made me realise the importance of diversity, in every aspect of life. This belief has stayed with me and in business I’ve always believed that a team needs to be well-represented to really have the value of South Africa in it. In South Africa we have a spirit of what we call ‘Ubuntu’, which means that we achieve by sharing ourselves with others- and caring for those around us. So, when it comes to D&I, it’s not just about gender- but about giving everyone an opportunity to represent our country as a culture.

What are your thoughts on tackling issues of gender diversity representation at Lenovo in EMEA, and how are you going to actively address that this year?

The key thing for me is around setting clear goals. Recognising that increasing gender diversity is a call to action we all must be accountable for, not just in my team, but as a global player. Only by having clear goals can we benchmark ourselves and see where we are and how much further we have to go towards them.

When it comes to gender diversity in South Africa’s tech industry, just 27% of the tech workers are female. At Lenovo across the EMEA geo it is 35%, so we are leading the curve, and having clear goals has been integral to achieving this. I also strongly believe that mentoring and sponsorship programmes are crucial to success, and I have seen first-hand how mentorship programmes have worked to help people to progress in their career and give them the skills to do the job. Mentoring programmes are also useful when it comes to tracking progression and helping individuals flourish—so that when an opportunity arises, they feel ready to take it.

What do you think the benefits of a diverse team are and how do you see those benefits in action at Lenovo?

Having different views, not just in terms of gender but from a cultural aspect too, gives everyone a unique perspective that is invaluable; it fosters creativity and innovation and helps us to consider different ways of tackling problems. I also believe it increases employee engagement and satisfaction as well as a sense of belonging, acceptance and safety. Finally, it makes the team more fun! It’s important from a customer perspective too; our customers come from many different cultures, so we must be sure to reflect this as a team. By doing so we are able to understand where they’re coming from in terms of culture or religion.

Lenovo's 2023 EMEA Diversity Manager of the Year with colleagues standing in front of Lenovo logo


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