'Raising the voices of those who may not always be heard is critical,' says Claire Thomas

Fostering Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity for a Satisfied Workforce
Claire Thomas is responsible for developing and implementing a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across Hitachi Vantara through programs that reflect the diverse backgrounds, interests, and passions of their current and future workforce. Continue reading to learn her views on the significance of inclusion and diversity in an organization.

It’s really important that all employees feel seen and heard in order for everyone to have the opportunity to succeed.

Media 7 Could you describe what motivated you to pursue your current career path, and how did you enter this field?
Claire Thomas:
I’ve been with Hitachi Vantara for 11 years now in various sales positions as well as leading many Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives on a voluntary basis such as employee resource groups, mentoring circles and Corporate Social Responsibility. When the role of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer was created just over a year ago, I knew I wanted to go for it. My passion for the technology industry has grown over the last 15 years, alongside building inclusive environments and high performing teams, and I want to make sure all my colleagues have a sense of belonging and meaningful career. I also want to play a role in increasing the variety of people who enter the technology industry as it’s an incredible industry with a huge range of opportunities and career paths. By creating more opportunities in a high paying sector for previously under-represented groups, I can also play a role in closing gender and ethnicity pay gaps, as well as making sure the technology that is let out into the world reflects the society it was created in.
My role covers the business globally, which is around 11,000 employees in 35 countries. In each of these countries, DEI has a different meaning, so one aspect of my position is to make sure that our work engages all our employees while also feeling relevant for a global audience. It's a good challenge and something I’m committed to delivering on.

M7: Can you discuss how you prioritize innovation and experimentation in your role at Hitachi Vantara?
CT:
I always seek to innovate DEI at Hitachi Vantara by ensuring we’re constantly studying our data to review what we know about our employees and where there might be any obstacles. When we analyse our findings in this way, we ensure we’re developing our offering and support through the creation of personalised initiatives, like more specific trainings based on feedback and needs. We’re currently experimenting with a different style of leadership development program and an allyship program to raise the profile of gender equity for all.
It's essential to also keep in mind the bigger picture of innovation in DEI – the UN for Women made this year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’. Currently, 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men, despite women being nearly half of the world’s population. We know at Hitachi Vantara that technology has the potential to help us create a better world for future generations – technology needs to be made for all, available to all, and inclusive of all to have the best possible impact, so we need to always be conscious of the digital divide and any steps that we can take to help to alleviate it.

M7: We are interested in learning about how the Dublin Tech Summit aims to create a diverse and inclusive environment for all attendees. Please share your thoughts on this?
CT:
It’s so important to ensure everyone feels a strong sense of inclusivity at events, and it’s a relatively easy lift for event organisers to implement changes to help people do so. As a starting point, including options for pronouns for attendee badges can help to make people feel welcome as soon as they step foot into the event. Furthermore, allowing attendees to bring their children – perhaps especially those with children aged one or younger – would also allow those on parental leave to attend the event and stay up to date with industry news and conversations, meaning that they still feel they are part of the conversation.

Organisers should also take care to consider the spaces which may be needed – for example, ensuring appropriate accessibility requirements are provided, such as disabled access and facilities. Access to gender neutral toilets and the provision of a safe space for people who may need to pump breast milk, feed their child, or have time for prayer away from loud auditoriums, could also be welcome ideas.

Looking to the talks themselves, it could be an idea to commence each session with a short introduction where attendees are asked to be respectful of each other with all questions welcome, and stating that speakers have the right to decline to answer anything they’re not comfortable with. For any attendees who may be visually or hearing impaired, including the provision of an interpreter in the country appropriate sign language, or using closed captions and larger format text, would insure they benefit from the industry insights and have their needs catered for. During Q&A sessions, having a dedicated person to monitor who in the audience asks questions would also guarantee that there is balanced representation from everyone in attendance. Even simply providing an option to submit anonymous questions enables those who do not want to ask in person to gain insights and have their thoughts heard. Finally, a simple but crucial suggestion: regular comfort breaks! It's important to help accommodate peoples’ needs, as well as catering for those who may need to carry work commitments. It's touches like these that ensure attendees are comfortable throughout events and which can help to build an inclusive environment.

Read more: Q&A with Charles Southwood, Vice President, N. Europe and MEA at Denodo


Culture change or building an inclusive culture is everybody’s responsibility and is very much defined by the actions and behaviours of every individual within the company.

M7: How do you ensure that your company is fostering an inclusive culture, and what measures do you take to ensure that all employees feel valued?
CT:
It’s really important that all employees feel seen and heard in order for everyone to have the opportunity to succeed. I’ve worked on several initiatives with the goal of creating an inclusive culture – creating safe spaces or a number of communities through our Employee Resource Groups, bringing in partners like the Equality Institute to provide opportunity to learn about being LGBTQ+ without asking our LGBTQ+ community to do the education, sharing lived experiences of under-represented groups through our DEI speaker series to create empathy for others and sharing my own personal stories to show that it is ok to talk about things that some may find uncomfortable if the objective is to help people learn about others’ experiences. We work with people managers to equip them with skills to have quality conversations with their teams and make connections with each individual. I personally think the relationship between a manager and a team member is that best way for an employee to feel valued.
We’ve recently started our gender equity program to make sure men have a voice in our DEI work. They too need to feel safe and empowered to advocate for their female counterparts and themselves, which we are supporting through our workshops and e-learning resources with Catalyst on Men Advocating for Real Change. Additionally, we’re co-creating an allyship program with Token Man Consulting and Potentia Consulting, led by our Women of Hitachi employee resource group (ERG). Our Rainbow Connection LGBTQ+ ERG also supports this program by providing us with additional insights around gender equality, which is essential to ensure that we’re always switched on to the unique experiences of all individuals.

M7: How do you assess the successful outcomes of your diversity and inclusion initiatives, and are there any metrics used to track progress?
CT:
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to measurement, so we explore a range of avenues. We firstly use general data capture on a centralised HR information system to understand current levels of diversity by function, country, seniority among other things, and measure progress. It’s important to caveat that these metrics present facts on representation and don’t necessarily capture the less tangible markers of progress: for example, are our employees happy? To supplement this effort, we also encourage employees to take part in surveys, which allow staff to share their thoughts and recommendations. We calculate a DEI index on an annual basis based on answers to eight questions.
We also conduct regular listening circles for small groups and often use a theme to tailor the conversation around events such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month and Pride. We’ve found these to be invaluable opportunities to simply listen to everyone’s views and understand how our colleagues feel we have progressed as an organisation.

M7: What are the most effective methods for training managers and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues?
CT:
Learning and development is a key priority for me this year. To understand the most effective methods for training, I’d recommend studying the data available to find out where the barriers or gaps are, and tailor trainings accordingly. I personally feel like smaller group training, where there is opportunity to discuss topics in a safe environment, is more effective than online learning, though I appreciate there is a balance between cost and scale to be found for organisations. Storytelling is also critical for me as we absorb so much more through stories than data alone.
It’s also important to review and update trainings regularly. We're constantly developing our learning platform which includes trainings on things like inclusive leadership and bias. Employees are also encouraged to deliver feedback on these sessions, so we can continue to improve them as time goes on and ensure they align with our colleagues’ learning styles.

Read more: Q&A with Charles Southwood, Vice President, N. Europe and MEA at Denodo


DEI is an increasingly important topic across the world and needs to become a standard operating procedure.

M7: How can we involve employees from diverse backgrounds in the decision-making process and make sure their voices are heard?
CT:
Raising the voices of those who may not always be heard is critical. If you are in a leadership position, being aware of your surroundings is an essential tool to understand whether you have the level of representation you need. Stop and take notice when there may be group thinking occurring. Where there is diversity of thought, make sure everyone can contribute by encouraging all to have a say, speaking up if interruptions happen and following up with anyone who may not have contributed to see if they want to contribute outside of a larger forum. Lead by example by being respectful and open when people disagree with ideas, show that it is ok to think differently and create environments where healthy challenge is normal and valued.
I have been working on a talent development program on storytelling and public speaking with Ginger Leadership Communications. Thirty of our high potential employees will be spending the next six months honing their skills and then delivering a TED-style talk on any topic they wish to our leadership. The aim of the program is to give people the skills needed for authentic, impactful communication, so that when they speak, others want to listen.
What are the best practices that can ensure an inclusive culture in different kinds of industries?
For any industry, it’s important that building an inclusive culture is not seen as a HR activity. Culture change or building an inclusive culture is everybody’s responsibility and is very much defined by the actions and behaviours of every individual within the company.
I’d recommend companies find culture champions who role model the values of the organisation every day, look at the barriers that may be in place to creating inclusivity specific to your sector, encourage behaviours that reflect the culture you want and quickly address behaviours that do not, and get input from your employees on what an inclusive culture needs to look like for each of them.

M7: As you are committed to improving diversity, how does a position like Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer help to make diversity and inclusion a standard operating procedure rather than an afterthought?
CT:
DEI is an increasingly important topic across the world and needs to become a standard operating procedure. I’m part of our leadership team at Hitachi Vantara, so sometimes the simple fact that I’m in the leadership meetings helps maintain focus on DEI as part of everyday work.
I think the specific actions taken by the CDIO influence how much DEI becomes part of a standard operating model. If you’re intentional about embedding DEI into core people processes, such as hiring, performance, promotion and pay, and measure progress, DEI will become a natural topic of conversation over time. If you speak in the language of the people who run your business functions and understand how DEI can contribute to their objectives, then prove the value for each individual, DEI will become standard. And celebrating people’s successes, progress and willingness to learn can also encourage others to engage more in DEI.

M7: In what ways can a CDIO establish collaborations across multiple business functions and ensure alignment with the objectives of the HR department?
CT:
Establishing collaborations with other functions – particularly when it comes to any joint DEI action plan – needs to work for all parties, as well as aligning with the objectives of the respective HR departments. Typically, this would mean working with functions on DEI action plans that are specific to their area of the business and developing tailor-made strategies, rather than having one centralised strategy that governs all business units in exactly the same way. Building relationships with peers and an understanding of their responsibilities and objectives is critical. It’s also important that insights are shared during the process of implementation –reflecting on what has and hasn’t worked in order to find more suitable solutions moving forwards is very valuable.

ABOUT HITACHI VANTARA

Hitachi Vantara, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., guides our clients from the present to the future by addressing their digital challenges. Together with every client, we apply our unparalleled industrial and digital capabilities to their data and applications for the benefit of business and society. Hitachi Vantara is trusted by over 80 percent of the Fortune 100 to help them develop new revenue streams, uncover competitive advantages, reduce costs, improve customer experiences, and deliver social and environmental value. To Know more about Hitachi Vantara please visit, https://www.hitachivantara.com/

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With RadiantOne AI and AIDA, existing IAM and IGA processes can be automated and simplified for overworked teams trying to comb through mountains of user access data to make the right decisions to protect their organizations.” With RadiantOne AI, conducting a user access review becomes as easy as following AIDA’s guidance. Using the power of large language models to drive advanced data correlation, contextualization and analysis, combined with an intuitive data visualization dashboard, AIDA will reinvent the user access review ritual. Based on an organization's proprietary data, the fully guided UAR experience will allow reviewers to interact and pose questions to AIDA using natural human language, like “where does this access come from?” or “show me who else has these access rights?” AIDA will highlight any potential user access risks, offer expert insight, and suggest remediations or access modifications based on an organization’s policies. Any changes, such as low risk bulk access approvals or revoking atypical access rights, are completed via a click of a button, so there’s less training required to complete the reviews and less risk of human error during the process. RadiantOne AI’s AIDA-guided user access review capability works to provide enterprise organizations with: Automated workflows: Leverage vast data sets and contextual insights to make intelligent and confident decisions about access rights. Simplified compliance: Easily detect over-privileged accounts or atypical access rights with intuitive data visualization techniques. Greater visibility into user actions: Get beyond roles quickly to see who has access to what and how they received that access so insights and remediations are easily actionable. Click-button remediation: Based on the insights and recommendations from AIDA, reviewers can approve or revoke access or atypical rights individually or take bulk approval/rejection actions with the click of a button. Data into the hands of business owners: Put relevant, risk-based identity data insights into the hands of business users in the language they understand to make it a breeze to adhere to compliance policies. “User access reviews with AIDA are just the beginning,” comments Joe Sander, Radiant Logic’s CEO. “Using RadiantOne’s AI engine, we see potential to revolutionize identity data management, governance, risk, compliance and cybersecurity processes by removing complexity as a roadblock. This frees up critical IT and security resources to focus on other business-critical tasks and expands the role of identity to truly be a business enabler.” RadiantOne AI comes on the heels of the completion of the integration of Brainwave Identity Analytics into the RadiantOne Identity Data Platform. AIDA will initially be available as a complement to the RadiantOne Identity Analytics solution. About Radiant Logic Radiant Logic, the identity data experts, helps organizations turn identity data into a strategic asset that drives automated governance, enhanced security, and operational efficiency. Our RadiantOne Identity Data Platform removes complexity as a roadblock to identity-first strategies by creating an authoritative data source for real-time, context-aware controls. We provide visibility and actionable insights to intelligently detect and remediate risk using AI/ML-powered identity analytics. With RadiantOne, organizations are able to tap into the wealth of information across the infrastructure, combining context and analytics to deploy governance that works for the most advanced use cases.

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Big Data Management

Dremio Partners With Carahsoft to Bring Modern Data Infrastructure to the Public Sector

Dremio | January 05, 2024

Dremio, the easy and open data lakehouse, and Carahsoft Technology Corp., The Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider, today announced a partnership. Under the agreement, Carahsoft will serve as Dremio’s Master Government Aggregator®, making the company’s complete cloud and software portfolio for Government, Defense, Intelligence and Education available through Carahsoft’s reseller partners and NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V, Information Technology Enterprise Solutions – Software 2 (ITES-SW2), National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) ValuePoint, National Cooperative Purchasing Alliance (NCPA) and OMNIA Partners contracts. This collaboration paves the way for Public Sector organizations to harness cutting-edge data analytics capabilities which empower them to make smarter decisions and significantly enhance operational efficiency through lightning-fast data access. Dremio propels agencies into the future by embracing a state-of-the-art data lakehouse architecture in Public Sector organizations. By transitioning to Dremio's solutions, organizations can enjoy sub-second query performance and a remarkable 10-fold improvement in price performance. The new environment eliminates costly and complex legacy data lake solutions and implements a flexible, highly modern architecture. Dremio provides cost-effective self-service analytics and data management, simplifying data pipelines and ETL complexity while accelerating insights across diverse storage locations. With a proven track record of modernizing legacy Hadoop environments and implementing the modern data lakehouse solution, Dremio and Carahsoft aim to transform Public Sector data management by breaking down data silos. Embracing a data mesh concept enables efficient handling of various data sources, fostering cross- collaboration and decentralized data control. Dremio’s expertise supports Public Sector agencies in implementing these principles, eradicating data silos for a more collaborative and efficient approach to data analytics. "Public sector organizations face a range of data infrastructure challenges, many of which are common to both Government and non-government entities. These issues often hinder effective data management, analysis, and decision-making,” said Roger Frey, Vice President of Alliances at Dremio. “Dremio's mission is to make data easily accessible and analyzable for all users, regardless of where it resides. We are excited to partner with Carahsoft to bring our state-of-the-art data analytics solutions to the Public Sector." “Within the Public Sector’s intricate data landscape, complexities often impede efficient data management and decision making,” said Laura Howton, Sales Director who leads the Analytics and Data Management Team at Carahsoft. “By adding Dremio to our AI and Machine Learning portfolio, our reseller partners can now provide modern, cost-effective and easily accessible data analytics tools to Government customers, bolstering their modernization efforts.” Dremio’s solutions are available through Carahsoft’s SEWP V contracts NNG15SC03B and NNG15SC27B, ITES-SW2 Contract W52P1J-20-D-0042, NASPO ValuePoint Master Agreement #AR2472, NCPA Contract NCPA01-86 and OMNIA Partners Contract #R191902. For more information, contact the Carahsoft team at 571-591-6430 or Dremio@carahsoft.com; or register for a complimentary webcast, “The Key Steps in Decreasing Costs and Improving Performance Through Data Lake Modernization,” Thursday, January 25, at 2p.m. About Dremio Dremio is the easy and open data lakehouse, providing self-service analytics with data warehouse functionality and data lake flexibility across all of your data. Use Dremio's lightning-fast SQL query service and any other processing engine on the same data. Dremio increases agility with a revolutionary data-as-code approach that enables Git-like data experimentation, version control, and governance. In addition, Dremio eliminates data silos by enabling queries across data lakes, databases, and data warehouses, and by simplifying ingestion into the lakehouse. Dremio's fully managed service helps organizations get started with analytics in minutes, and automatically optimizes data for every workload. As the original creator of Apache Arrow and committed to Arrow and Iceberg’s community-driven standards, Dremio is on a mission to reinvent SQL for data lakes and meet customers where they are on their lakehouse journey.

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Hitachi Vantara

Hitachi Vantara

Hitachi Vantara, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., guides our customers from what’s now to what’s next by solving their digital challenges. Working alongside each customer, we apply our unmatched industrial and digital capabilities to their data and applications to benefit both business an...

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