With its VMinclusion Taara initiative, tech company VMware won the award for best Women Leading Change Campaign in the 2020 Women Leading Change Awards.
Launched in January 2019, the ongoing VMinclusion Taara program aims to provide free technical training and certification to 15,000 women in India; it has reached 5,000 so far.
The initiative targets women who have taken a career break of at least six months and wish to rebuild their careers in the technology industry. In addition to helping women who are seeking a return to the field, the initiative also gives women who were never trained or who have never worked at a technology company a chance to participate in the fast-moving sector.
In line with the initiative's objectives, VMware carried out the following:
- Employed storytelling devices that emotionally resonated with the audience and amplified these stories across paid, owned, earned, and internal channels. VMware employees, partners, and customers were asked to reach out to friends, family, and loved ones who might benefit from the program.
- Partnered with Naukri, the largest job portal in India, to advertise the initiative right next to links that took users to cloud-computing roles. A series of assets, including videos, emails and images, were produced to convey the message in the most distributable manner. Advertisements using this content and released during the Christmas and New Year break were timed for better recall and connection.
- VMware’s male employees, current female participants, and graduates shared their journeys on the free publishing platform Medium.com. The stories took on different forms: Some chronicled their heartwarming return to their dream jobs, while others emphasized the need to do the right thing for themselves, and one featured the critical importance of male allyship in the workplace. These stories became some of the program’s most powerful endorsements.
- Set up bi-weekly webinars to respond to any questions women had on the program, to help them defeat apprehension.
- Actively drove diversity and inclusion conversations with executives on panels at VMware’s vFORUM, Women in Technology Forum in Gurgaon, and other key industry events.
- Carried out an aggressive engagement program to actively seek buy-in from customers and partners on a one-to-one basis.
- Placed 'newsjacking' and contributed articles by VMware executives in traditional mainstream media, which played a crucial role in positioning the initiative as a leader in tackling inclusion challenges at the industry level.
The initiative has received enthusiastic support from several enterprises which are keen to hire VMware Certified Professionals from the Taara initiative. NTT and Dell were among the first, while later partners include Bharti Airtel and the State Bank of India.
The program achieved an average engagement rate on social networking channels of 0.9%, which is significantly higher than the industry standard of 0.05%. Use of social networking channels like WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Twitter reached more than 5.31 million users.
Employee referrals contributed 30% of VMinclusion Taara registrations.
VMinclusion Taara runs closed social-media groups, where participants receive support and also help each other, providing tips, solutions and moral support. These thriving groups prove that the initiative has been successful in getting women to band together to help each other succeed.
Looking to the future, VMware would like the initiative to expand to an industry-wide effort. This includes partners and customers providing further career opportunities to graduates of the VMinclusion Taara program. Progression to an industry-wide initiative would further enable the growth of a gender-agnostic industry, and drive greater gender representation in the technology sector, the company says.