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Making Our Strong Community Stronger

By | May 4, 2022

Diverse companies, teams, and organizations can come together for the good of a community and make our strong community even stronger. This post summarizes the panel discussion moderated by Dr. Gloria Chance, President and CEO of the Mousai Group, from the Open Mainframe Summit 2021. 

Read the blog below or watch the video clip from Open Mainframe Summit below.


Empathy and Diversity: Never Stop Learning

Greg Lotko, General Manager of  Broadcom’s Mainframe Software Division, shares that his involvement with the issue of diversity started out in a simple way. He felt it was very important that people expressed the importance of the dialogue about diversity and related issues through their actions.

He’s been involved in diversity initiatives at many levels for many years. At his previous company, he was head of the diversity council, offered cross-culture mentoring, and, generally speaking, never stopped learning about diversity and empathy, even in his personal life.

When There Are Safe Spaces, Honest Conversations Can Happen

Dave Jeffries, Vice President of Development, IBM z/OS Software, shares some of his observations and stories. He’s been appreciative of the fact that IBM has been able to create inclusive spaces for conversation and dialogue. These open spaces foster even more dialogue. People feel inspired and empowered to open up when they see their peers talking and sharing. His perception is that more conversations are taking place, with more participation. People ask tough, honest questions, and Dave feels that the conversations are real and candid, and not just lip service.

Change Can Happen When There’s Confidence and Support From Leadership

Andy Youniss, Executive Chairman of  Rocket Software, shares the experiences he had at his company when trying to foster dialogue around diversity. Leadership started to see these conversations as opportunities to change the core values of the organization because they felt the values were no longer sufficient.

Leadership started working on their vision statement and mission statement to reflect their goals of inclusion, diversity, and equity. They started taking concrete actions, including hiring their first senior director of inclusion, diversity, and equity.

A Single Voice Resonates Louder

Jeanne Glass, Founder and CEO of VirtualZ Computing, shares the history of how “Making our Strong Community Stronger” came about. Essentially, there were several different initiatives for diversity and equality going on, but she felt the effort was being diluted. She spoke with Broadcom, IBM, Open Mainframe Project, Rocket Software and TechChannel to work together in a voice that could resonate louder than the previous ones. 

Jeanne Glass asks for feedback from people who are starting their own conversations. She encourages people to open up, particularly in situations that make them go outside their comfort zones—a notion that Dr. Gloria Chance agrees with.

She also shares some future plans for the initiative, including four events planned for 2022.

Every Voice Matters

To wrap up, Greg adds his own recollections of how it all started, stressing that every voice matters and every voice can make a change. He says that Jeanne’s voice really mattered when she had the initiative to call him and suggest the idea.

Greg shares that, despite understanding the desire to measure outcomes, he himself doesn’t care that much about metrics. As long as we’re making progress and more people are comfortable and safe at work being who they are, he feels that we’re making progress, even if it’s one person at a time.

As his final thoughts, Andy shares that the mainframe community is a sustaining community—an open one with stories and learning to share. Andy believes that data is important, though, and if you can combine powerful storytelling with compelling data, change can start happening.

Finally, Dave  shares his final impressions. He acknowledges the fact that there are many important topics to tackle. There are LGBTQIA+ people, Native Americans, and neurodivergent people, to name a few. He suggests that direct mentoring might be a valid strategy they haven’t really leveraged yet.

This post was written by Carlos Schults. Carlos is a consultant and software engineer with experience in desktop, web, and mobile development. Though his primary language is C#, he has experience with a number of languages and platforms. His main interests include automated testing, version control, and code quality.