Diversity, Inclusion and Red Hat’s Open Culture

22 Feb
IDC IWD Blog - Margaret Adam - Diversity

Diversity, Inclusion and Red Hat’s Open Culture

IDC margaret adam

Margaret Adam  
AVP, European Services, Channels and Alliances Ecosystems
Read full bio  @madam_idc

We, at IDC, strongly believe that Digital transformation is as much a cultural transformation as it is a technological one.  It demands new ways of working and, critically, a collaborative and inclusive organization.  Within this context, we are looking at what different technology companies are doing to address issues of culture change, diversity and inclusion in their own organizations and the ecosystems they operate in. 

There are lessons to be learnt from what others are doing, and in the spirit of openness, these stories should be shared.  We recently published a report on IDC.com highlighting Red Hat’s approaches to diversity, inclusion and cultural change.   

“Red Hat’s approach to D&I is particularly interesting as it gives us insight as to what open source culture can teach us about these issues.” Margaret Adam, IDC

In this blog post we share some highlights from this report:

Red Hat’s Dunja Heinrich (Director of Human Resources [People Team], EMEA) explains that Red Hat’s approach to D+I (diversity and inclusion) is underpinned by the company’s opensource culture of meritocracy: “a belief that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, regardless of the job title / seniority.”

“Diversity fuels our meritocratic culture by bringing in many perspectives and ideas, challenging our assumptions, and inspiring innovation. For Red Hat, it is less about quotas, more about equal opportunity for everyone.” Dunja Heinrich, Red Hat

Red Hat’s company culture is rooted in open source values – freedom, courage, commitment, and accountability. The same values that govern the communities it belongs to.  Red Hat has also realized the opportunity it has to share its experience and key learnings with the ecosystems they are part of, particularly the extended open source community, their customers and, of course, their partners. 

For Petra Heinrich (Vice President Partners and Alliances EMEA) this starts with Red Hat’s own people being advocates of change.

“It is as simple as just having the conversation, being advocates of this culture and philosophy. To be an agent of change, you need to start with yourself.” Petra Heinrich, Red Hat

And at the heart of this is knowledge sharing.  A great example of this is Opensource.com. Launched by Red Hat in 2010, this site is one way Red Hat gives back to the open source community by publishing stories about creating, adopting, and sharing open source solutions.   On this site, Red Hat have publicly shared its own “Open Decision Framework,” a collection of best practices which provides a process framework for participatory decision making.  

“The Open Decision Framework is a process for making transparent, inclusive decisions in organizations that embrace open source principles.”

It can be applied to projects as well as broader business planning and decision making, particularly in scenarios where a decision impacts culture and/or affects others. Red Hat describes it as “the collective wisdom of Red Hatters, compiled into a flexible framework that helps decision makers and leaders seek out diverse perspectives and collaborate across teams and geos, to make better decisions.”

By making it available to the public, Red Hat is helping the open source community, and the larger business community, with an operational and tactical framework to overcome some of the hurdles associated with participatory decision making.

Red Hat also increasingly incorporating the themes of open leadership and open culture in its events (such as the Red Hat Summit) and other public forums. It is also publishing case studies to help its customers and partners understand the ODF model and how to apply it to their own business.

It continues to look for ways that it can increase awareness of D&I challenges into its ecosystem – by offering its learnings, tools, competency models, hiring and people development plans to its partners and customers.

And it is becoming more and more important to do so.  As customer needs evolve, the old-tech-industry style of hard selling is dying out. 

Co-creation, coopetition, and collaboration are becoming the three C’s of effective ecosystem practice.

To do this effectively requires a diverse, collaborative working culture.

When Red Hat formally started its D+I journey in 2016, leading to several Red Hat communities and groups formed globally (consistent with its meritocracy) to provide ideas and thoughts around how Red Hat can approach D+I.   These communities include:  Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD), Red Hat Pride, Military Veterans, Neurodiversity and the Women’s Leadership Community. 

Beyond these communities, Red Hat has also undertaken several additional initiatives, including rewriting job descriptions to appeal to a broader audience, training hiring managers on unconscious bias, hosting listening tours to better understand how associates around the globe experience the culture and where there was room for improvement.  Additionally, it created peer group TED-like talks to encourage awareness and cultural sensitivity.

For Red Hat, addressing D&I requires creating a “listening” organization. This helps the company to be more aware of different personality types, traits, and cultures, because a truly inclusive, meritocratic organization provides a platform for all voices.

I think everyone’s perception around diversity and equality is a very personal experience. In the workplace it is the combination of talent, personality, expectation and context. Not all individuals have the same personality, expectations nor needs and not all find themselves in the same context. Different people have different needs when it comes to how they want to be treated by people or an organization at a given time. This is the complexity of diversity and highlights the need for organizations to engage in a constant dialogue with people — across the entire talent population.” Dunja Heinrich – Red Hat

Digital Transformation demands new ways of selling and the ability to connect and collaborate — working with a customer, a partner, or both, and often within a multiparty ecosystem. In fact, we at IDC maintain that “diversity in experience, skills, and insights will be an essential competitive advantage in building strategy, engaging with customers, and uncovering new opportunities”.

Hopefully by sharing these stories, these best practices, and these tips, all of us can learn from each other and collectively address what is an imperative for growth. Statistic after statistic show that tapping a more diverse workforce just makes good business sense, it is also the right thing to do.

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