Women in tech series: Working together to make a change

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Women in tech series: Episode 3

South Africa is celebrating Women’s Month, showcasing its heroines, reflecting on their struggles and triumphs. In honour of Women’s Month, Dell EMC is showcasing some of the extraordinary women who work in its South African operations.

Elizabeth Matsemela, Angela Qithi and Noluthando Maleka all have demanding jobs at Dell EMC. They all also find the time to work within the company to uplift their colleagues and benefit the industry as a whole.

Angela is the South African representative of the Dell EMC Black Networking Alliance. Launched in South Africa in July, the BNA aims to make the organisation a top company for black professionals through focussing on recruitment, retention, development and engagement. It is the first BNA Employee Resource Group outside of North America.

“About six months into my role I started reaching out to individuals to help launch the BNA locally,” Angela says. “Being a black woman, in South Africa, regardless of the industry – it’s so hard. It’s hard because of where we come from. Yes, we’re 25 years into democracy, but there’s a lot of psychological impact today where, as a black person, it’s difficult to verbalise what you want in your career. I believe BNA can bridge the gap – get black professionals to feel confident and comfortable to feel vocal about what they want and go for it, and not feel like they cannot talk to a white colleague or superior and disagree. For me it’s just so important.”

Says Elizabeth, “For me it’s about ensuring everyone gets their fair share. I’m also on the core team of BNA and Women in Action Employee Resource Group. In the STEM industry we’re finding less and less women coming through and it’s important that those who are there put their hands up and be recognised and be known so those who are aspiring can see them and get through.”

Women in Action is an employee resource group that aims to help women in the company succeed through networking and mentoring them with their colleagues and ensuring they have a voice and are included.

“In South Africa there are six million unemployed people, three million of them are between the ages of 16 and 24,” says Noluthando. “Forty-six percent of those are female. For us, as a company in STEM we need to bring young females up, we need to go out to rural areas and empower the youth. Dell does this with The Dell Development Fund. It starts with us taking high school students and training them and broadening the pool.”

The tech sector, she adds, has been very reactive in finding black, female skills, “companies throw money at the people already in the sector and haven’t been proactive in going to schools, working with NGOs, funding education and bringing people up. There has been very little investment.”

All three women agree that it’s time this changed. And they’re working to make sure it does.

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