Even before Lenovo’s newest Employee Resource Group (ERG), US Pride, formally kicks off, members are already getting involved in the community and making their voices heard. US Pride is Lenovo’s fifth ERG—it’s open to any Lenovo employee in North America and supports those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, as well as their allies. This past weekend, members took part in Pride: Durham at Duke University, about 25 minutes from Lenovo’s US headquarters in Morrisville, NC, marching in the annual parade to celebrate diversity.
Lenovo’s ERGs take a grassroots approach, supported by Lenovo’s HR and diversity teams who help them establish a group charter, mission and strategic initiatives. “Our ERG community is championed by highly engaged employees who take an active part in cultivating an inclusive workplace. Over the years, groups formed organically out of the need for employees to feel a sense of belonging within our vastly global workforce. Our ERGs offer education and resources that support employees’ personal and professional success,” said Jasmine Ward, senior specialist, Diversity & Inclusion, Lenovo.
Each ERG has two leaders (co-chairs) who oversee the organization’s strategy and work closely with the executive sponsors to deliver on those objectives. Then a Steering Committee with subcommittees serves as the “executive board” to the organization, helping drive activities that support the group, in areas like Communications/Marketing, Outreach, Mentoring, and Networking.
We talked with Laney McPhaul, regional sales director and chair for US Pride, about what this group means to her personally and how it will bring greater awareness of Diversity and Inclusion at Lenovo.
Q. How did you get involved in this group—and to become the leader?
A: Beginning in April, the North American Leadership Team began monthly Diversity and Inclusion trainings, and that’s where I met Seth Smiley-Humphries, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Lenovo. In those trainings, I realized we had some great resource groups for various sub-communities within Lenovo, but nothing for our LGBTQ+A coworkers. I reached out to Seth to inquire about any plans to start one, and he told me he was planning a Pride Month Panel discussion in June. It was serendipity when I stepped in on the panel for our executive sponsor, Bev Crair, vice president, Product Development & Quality, Data Center Group, who had a last minute work commitment. That discussion morphed into an interest meeting for our getting-ready-to-launch, LGBT ERG for Lenovo and my taking the helm as co-chair.
Q. How does this group help you and others bring yourselves more fully to the workplace?
A: I hope that the group will provide an inclusive environment for all and showcase Lenovo’s commitment to diversity within our workforce. Subsequently, I believe people will be more comfortable being themselves in the workplace, which will lead to more productive and happier employees overall. I have worked for IBM and Lenovo combined for 14 years, and I can say that I have not always felt that sharing my truth and experience would be well received. Some of that anxiety involved my personal journey and some came from an environment and culture that wasn’t an inclusive as it is now. The difference today is we’re proactively championing and encouraging people to be the most authentic versions of themselves. That is a big part of what this group will do—make those who identify as LGBT or those who have a loved one who does, feel that Lenovo fully embraces and celebrates that diversity. My personal experience watching this company transform and wanting to see it continue to include the LGBT community drove me to seek a leadership role in this organization.
Q. Tell us about the Pride march. Have you been in marches like this before? What did it mean to be marching with the Lenovo banner this time?
A: I have been to many Pride marches in my lifetime, exclusively as a spectator. To be able to participate with my company was a really humbling experience. I heard so many “Hey, thanks Lenovo! I have a ThinkPad” on the parade route—it was pretty cool to feel as if folks really appreciated seeing locally-based businesses there supporting the cause.
Q. What plans do you have for US Pride, and what would you like people to know about the group?
A: US Pride is still working on assembling our chairpersons and steering committees, so if there are folks who would like to participate, stay tuned. We hope to have an official launch in the next few months. As with all ERG’s we will be working within the Lenovo 3C model of Career Empowerment, Culture and Community to measure our success.