OnQ Blog

Be bold for change: International Women's Day at Qualcomm

Mar 14, 2017

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Through my 20+ years at Qualcomm, I’ve participated in many of our celebratory events for International Women’s Day (IWD). In past years, I’ve always taken away a refreshed inspiration for my own development, and a reinforced commitment to continue empowering my female colleagues as well as enabling an inclusive work environment where everybody thrives and Qualcomm is the ultimate benefactor. However, this year was particularly special for me. As our new Chief Diversity Officer, I was no longer a participant, but instead I had the opportunity to influence and set the tone for our IWD events here at Qualcomm.

Inspired by this year’s theme Be Bold for Change, my team, our two employee networks focused on supporting and developing our female employees (Qualcomm Women in Science and Engineering-QWISE and Qualcomm Females Influencing Information Technology-QFINITY), and other employees around the world, worked together to organize a series of activities and events that left everybody energized and empowered to take the next steps toward creating a more inclusive and diverse company. Everybody was encouraged to wear something purple on the day to show support.

It’s great that we have this kind of energizing event to keep encouraging women to step up, speak up, and also remind men that they need to make some difference in order to embrace the difference.

Rong He, Principal Engineer, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.

At our main event, which took place in Irwin Jacobs Hall in SD, we were honored to have Vernā Myers as our guest keynote speaker. Vernā is a nationally recognized speaker on the issues of gender and racial bias. She is often sought after by companies to advise on creating inclusive environments and improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented groups. When I stepped on stage to kick off the events, I was energized when I saw the “sea of purple” in our packed auditorium which included both men and women. Vernā gave an engaging and fun presentation, and shared her perspectives about diversity and inclusion and how we as a company can enable a better environment to champion women. She also spoke about the important role that women play to make that happen by being willing to take risks, share ourselves and be willing to engage with those that show interest in supporting us. She said something that I have always believed, “We all benefit when we stay focused on creating a workplace of excellence.”

Vernā Myers and blog post author Vicki Mealer-Burke.

In addition to the Qualcomm employees who attended the event in person, others took part in “watch parties” at other Qualcomm campuses. It wasn’t a surprise to me to see how many men also engaged in the celebration — this speaks to the great interest that everyone here at Qualcomm has in empowering female team members and peers. One of the highlights of Vernā’s session was when Qualcomm CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, spontaneously joined her on stage and asked to get her perspective on what he can do as CEO to continue improving diversity and inclusion. I love that Steve is always focusing on ways to continue to make Qualcomm better!

One of the key takeaways of the presentation was about the difference between diversity and inclusion, and that we have an opportunity to be inclusive regardless of the role we play. I can see that in a next meeting we all can take action… like to speak up if we see bias going on, or do something to empower a person that might need support.

Carlos Cardenas, Senior System Engineer, Qualcomm Incorporated

After the keynote, Steve joined us at the reception where there were lively discussions and more than a few “selfies with the CEO” taken. The following day, Steve and I met with several members of our QWise employee group in the Bay Area over lunch. We had an engaging discussion through this extended Q&A session.

Qualcomm offices around the world also had local celebration activities.

From its six sites within the country, Qualcomm India celebrated IWD with a myriad of activities, including inspirational talks by our local leaders, words of wisdom from industry role models, and sessions focused on leadership and self-development, parenting, work-life balance, and health and wellness. There were also fun activities spread through the week. On IWD (March 8), women employees were surprised as their offices were decorated and a sweet gift awaited them at their workstations. At the Chennai office, both female and male employees joined in the celebrations wearing purple. Emails were abuzz with many women employees sharing their excitement and appreciation of how IWD was celebrated at the company.

To close our week of celebrations, QFINITY celebrated its third anniversary hosting a panel discussion titled Advocate and Negotiate for Success, providing practical tips and real-life stories on advocating and negotiating for workplace success. The panelists included Falon Fatemi, Founder and CEO of Node; Kate Schatz, author or Rad Women Worldwide, and Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference. The moderator was Cheryl Goodman, Executive Director of Athena. Part of QFINITY’s anniversary included kicking off its EMEA chapter.

This celebration raises the awareness of the importance of diversity, and not gender diversity but also diversity in the organization.

Alicia Monroe, Senior Director of IT, Qualcomm Incorporated

While there’s still much work to do, these past few days reminded me that we are moving in the right direction. I know that if anyone will innovate our way to unique and effective solutions to continue improving diversity in high tech, it’s Qualcomm. I’m very excited about all the opportunities ahead!