Top CEO of Fortune 100 company identifies entrenched ‘frozen mindset’ among managers as major obstacle to DEI efforts

In a recent interview with CNBC’s Sharon Epperson, Antonio Neri, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, shared his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in corporate culture. Despite facing budget cuts and legislative challenges, Neri is adamant about the importance of maintaining and advancing DEI initiatives within his company.

Neri highlighted the need for middle managers to overcome what he referred to as the “frozen mindset” when it comes to DEI. He emphasized the importance of uncomfortable conversations between managers and employees as a crucial step towards fostering a more inclusive workplace environment.

When Neri first became CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2018, he noticed a lack of diversity among his direct reports. He took immediate action to rectify this by ensuring that 50% of his direct reports were women. This commitment to diversity and inclusion has been recognized, with HPE being named the No. 1 company on the annual Just 100 list of top large corporate employers.

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Neri acknowledged that implementing DEI initiatives can be challenging, especially during times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests. He emphasized the importance of providing training and support to both managers and employees to facilitate these difficult conversations.

In addition to internal programs, Neri also believes that compensation should be tied to DEI accountability. By tracking data on pay equity and advancing talent, HPE has made strides towards creating a more inclusive workplace.

Neri stressed the importance of transparency and clear communication when addressing DEI issues. He emphasized the need for authentic conversations rather than simply relying on acronyms like ESG and DEI.

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Overall, Neri’s advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion reflects his personal journey and commitment to creating a more equitable workplace for all employees. As he continues to lead HPE, Neri remains committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity and growth.

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