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MAY 4, 2000

© Copyright 2000 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.

Thank you, Ken. Good afternoon, everyone.

It's a pleasure to be a part of this conference-a conference that has done a wonderful job of shining a light on the Digital Divide and maybe building some bridges to cross it.

I'd like to start my remarks with a story-and this particular story sends out a particularly relevant message for today.

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting and having breakfast with a group of HP's scholars-college students who we've given scholarships to, internships, and an HP mentor.

They're in the audience today-Oscar Banuelos, Marcella Grant, Andrew Olowu, Steven Romero and Irma Solis-all extremely bright, extremely ambitious, extremely dedicated individuals.

This is a story is about one of those scholars: Oscar Banuelos.

Oscar-now in his first year at Santa Clara University-was president of MESA … Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement … while in high school. He received a number of academic accolades, including awards from Stanford and the Silicon Valley Mathematics Association. But Oscar is most proud of the contribution he made to the employees of Monterey Mushrooms. His parents work for this company and like many of the other employees, English isn't their native language.

When it came time to negotiate a new contract between the employees and the company, Oscar gave his time, his energy, his translation skills to finalize an agreement that improved the labor standards for hundreds of workers.

Now, Oscar truly believes being Hispanic in America is great, but there are times when he's been made to feel differently. Like the time he walked into an advanced math class ready to learn-ready to be challenged on the first day of school -and the teacher assumed he was in the wrong class.

I open my remarks with this story, not to highlight such a shameful assumption-although it is truly shameful. I share this story with you more to celebrate the talents and remarkable individuals that make this world more enriching for us all.

That's the reason we've all convened here today.

This conference has let us to come together to exchange thought-provoking ideas, develop life-long partnerships, discover truly extraordinary talent.

Isn't it amazing what can happen-the wonderful things-that can result when diverse groups of people band together for a common cause?

I believe we are all here for the same reason. We're here because we don't want any of the gaps Rev. Jackson mentions-education, workforce, technology, access to capital-to get any wider than they already are.

We want to narrow the gaps-and hopefully one day-close them completely. We want to give everybody the tools to work, to play, to live in the new economy.

We're here because we've heard the echo in this room-and the echo from other business, civic and political leaders throughout the nation: "Closing the gaps is not only the right thing to do, it's good business."

While the so-called Digital Divide is news right now…I believe, it's not new. It's merely the digital expression of divides we've had for hundreds of years.

John (Chambers) says we've lived this crisis-the crisis of the haves and have nots-since the Industrial Revolution.

So, we're all here today not because we've realized there are new struggles we must tackle. We're here today because there are new solutions we must create-new solutions that will endure-that will enable everyone-and I mean everyone-to participate in this digital world.

While our country may have taken enormous steps toward embracing a diverse culture, we still have a long way to go before that embrace enfolds every community, every company, every classroom, every individual.

Now, how can the technology industry help?

I believe this industry needs to focus on three things. We need to:

  1. Stop the rhetoric,
  2. Recognize the value in diversity, and
  3. Change through e-inclusion.

One of the biggest contributions this industry can make to this problem is to convince people it's serious. Of course, our presence here today is one beacon of hope. But what happens after today. Tomorrow? The day after?

What happens when Rev. Jackson rolls back out of town-back to Chicago-taking his courageous message and his wonderful convictions with him?

What happens when we go back to the day-to-day operation of our businesses-when we get busy satisfying the needs of our shareowners, our customers, our employees?

Indeed, what happens next?


Well, like Bob Knowling said today and at an event a few weeks ago in East Palo Alto, we must stop the rhetoric-in his words, "the lip service."

I believe we must stop thinking that about this issue not so much as what "we" can do for "them." But more about what "they," do for "us."

  • Diversity nourishes the soul of our company-and truly great companies have souls.
  • Diversity fills critical roles in our organizations.
  • Diversity inspires creativity and inventiveness.

And inventiveness and creativity are core virtues of this new economy. So to be successful in the 21st century and beyond we must look at the people around us-and pursue their differences-value their differences-embrace their differences.

This industry needs to recognize that we need to capitalize on the momentum created in the last three days. We need to stop ignoring minorities because, I believe, minorities are vital to our success going forward.

  • We need their skills
  • We need their perspective
  • We need their diversity

Part of HP's strategy for reinvention has been to hold up a mirror and take an honest look at ourselves. That's been one of the hardest things to do-hard because some things we like, some things we don't like. Our strategy of reinvention has been to preserve the best, and reinvent the rest.

Now, when we hold up a mirror to our workforce at HP, when we take an honest look at ourselves, we don't like what we see. While we may have a reasonable track record, we are far from being where we want to be; where we should be; where we need to be-both as an organization and as an industry.

And if we're truly honest with ourselves, which we need to be in this situation, we will admit that we have a big problem in the Valley in this regard.

What's at the root of this problem? The virtual wall between available talent and available jobs. And the fact that diversity is not a hiring practice nor a hiring priority in many Silicon Valley companies. And the less-than-open perspective of many hiring managers.

As a result, this industry has far too much conformity.

Companies with a high-degree of conformity are not easy places to join if you're different.

  • Conformity is not productive when you want to attract new talent.
  • Conformity is not productive when you want to have creativity.
  • Conformity is not productive when you want to be inventive.

So, how do we-how does this industry-break the cycle of conformity?


We need to recognize-truly recognize-the value in diversity. Not everyone must be the same. In fact, the opposite is true. To build a great team we need to encourage differences. Whether as a nation, as an industry, as a company, we must start valuing differences. All the way. Not just part way.

We need to value differences not just in entertainment, sports and style. We need to value difference in the world of finance, the world of technology, the world of corporate management.

This isn't just the business issue du jour -it's a strategic business imperative.

I believe all-the-way diversity is essential to creating a winning workforce.

And I mean diversity in all its forms:

  • diversity in terms of the color of our skin.
  • diversity in terms of ideas
  • diversity in terms of style
  • diversity in terms of how we express ourselves
  • diversity in terms of lifestyle choices
  • diversity in terms of our experience
  • diversity in terms of perspective

You may have heard me say this before and I firmly believe it:

Diversity drives creativity. Creativity is at the heart of invention.

If this industry wants to reach its full inventive capability-to reach its full inventive potential-we must be committed to doing better.

It is with this inventive spirit in mind that we need to accept Rev. Jackson's challenge-the challenge he has issued to the technology industry:

He said and I quote: "We challenge the industry and public sector to formulate and implement a three- to five-year plan to educate, train, prepare and employ 200,000 youth in local communities." (4/23/00 SJMN: Rev. Jackson editorial)

We need to accept Rev. Jackson's challenge because we truly believe the echo: "It's not only the right thing to do, it's good business."

We need to accept Rev. Jackson's challenge because our future-the future of this industry-this inventive and idea-centered industry-greatly depends on a more diverse workforce. Our companies greatly depend on a more diverse workforce.

I believe we can achieve great success because of a diverse workforce, not in spite of it.

Now, I admit we can't solve the workforce diversity issue overnight. We believe real solutions require real understanding. Real understanding is a growth process that begins with the root of the problem.


At HP, we believe that real growth-and systemic change-starts with e-inclusion-a small seed that spreads, that enables change, that grows and gathers momentum until it engulfs every one, every place.

We have a vision of e-inclusion-that is, empowering all people to participate in society by sharing the benefits of information and skills through technology, philanthropy and community outreach.

We believe in full e-inclusion, not just stop-gaps or giveaways.

In our view, e-inclusion more than bridges the digital divide-a term that sounds far too remote, far too antiseptic, far too impersonal for such a people issue. It's not enough to tolerate, to accommodate differences, we have to include differences-we have to embrace differences.

And e-inclusion delves deeper -gets more personal with the issues brought up today.

E-inclusion is not just about technology; yes that's our livelihood. E-inclusion is about people, it's about relationships, it's about personal commitment.

We know that to truly get to the root of the problem-to make a real difference-to be truly committed-we must give more than technology, more than just money, although these are essential. But while giving money is important, it's the easy thing to do. Giving people career development paths, mentoring, training-that's one-on-one stuff-important stuff. And it's hard to do.

For example, Steven Romero-another HP scholar I met this morning-tells us he would have left engineering had it not been for his HP mentor.

What we hope to achieve with the HP Scholars program-which is part of HP's Diversity in Education Initiative-is to reach minority students early in their college careers, so they have the kind of support and encouragement they need to finish school … and realize their dreams.

All young people have the right to learn. All young people have the right to technology. All young people have a right to an inventive future.

Some years ago, I wrote a graduate thesis on education reform…so I've been concerned about education for a long time.

Today I'm privileged to be the CEO of a company who's been passionate about education for many years-a company with a spirit of giving-a company with a shining soul.

We have a unique, holistic approach to our education programs-to e-inclusion.

Holistic in that it involves hands-on assistance. Holistic in that people get very involved in a very comprehensive way. Holistic in that it touches people lives. Holistic in that it empowers individuals to learn for a lifetime not just one small period in life. Holistic in that our approach conquers change by challenging the whole person-challenging the heart as well as the mind-challenging the creative side of the brain as well as the analytical side. And we believe that educating the whole person is important to our future.

In order to maximize the full potential of the future, we need to spark the creativity in all of us to meet the challenges of the next millenium. We need to begin with e-inclusion-to make technology available and accessible so that people will have the tools to explore, to communicate, to collaborate, to invent.

We need e-inclusion for everyone-so that everyone can begin to move forward in the growth process.


We understand the difficulties and challenges ahead. We must be ready for those challenges. We must be wholeheartedly committed to them, too. I'll say that again. We must be wholeheartedly committed to change and the challenges ahead.

We also understand the importance of community, government and corporate partnerships in our vision of e-inclusion for all. And that we can't do it alone.

We need all of you.

I'm going to borrow a Spanish word that's a favorite of Oscar Banuelos. The word is ganas-it means desire for or inclination. For Oscar, it means and I quote: "The determination, the desire to achieve, the effort you must provide, the willpower when necessary, and the perseverance you must act on."

It's up to all of us to embrace and empower a culture where diversity thrives rather than stalls-it's up to all of us to have the ganas to change-so that brilliant, ambitious, inventive minds, like Oscar's and lots more like him, are not made to feel like outsiders-so that all of us may enjoy the spiritual richness and economic prosperity that a diverse world brings.

It's up to all of us to create an environment that embraces diversity… rather than one that simply accommodates it.

I know we can do it. If we work together. As partners.

I know we can do it … if we bring passion to this … the same passion that Rev. Jackson brings.

I know we can do it…because it's the right thing to do.

Visit the National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Web site for more details and information. http://www.rainbowpush.org/

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