Thursday 18 July 2019

Firms need 'flexible' approach on housing

Dell executive says there are solutions, writes Samantha McCaughren

Dell executive Aongus Hegarty. Photo: Damien Eagers Photography
Dell executive Aongus Hegarty. Photo: Damien Eagers Photography
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Global tech companies expanding in Ireland should be "less single-location-centric" to overcome a growing housing and accommodation squeeze for workers, according to Aongus Hegarty, president of Dell EMC EMEA.

Several large tech companies - such as Amazon - have announced plans for significant jobs expansion, but concerns have been voiced about finding accommodation for these workers - particularly in Dublin.

Hegarty said that looking at new locations within Ireland and employing new technology to allow people to work from home would form part of the solution.

"If companies think about it in a flexible way, trust me, there are plenty of locations, plenty of housing, plenty of talent out there," he told the Sunday Independent.

"In Ireland, Dell has 6,000 employees across multiple locations in three main places. I think that is really important. We have significantly more people located outside Dublin than we do inside Dublin, we have a staff of over 1,000 people in Limerick.

"I absolutely look at the geography of Ireland and see where is the opportunity to attract talent. Work is not a place we send people to, it's an activity. So we have hundreds of people throughout the country working for Dell Technologies in places that are not Dublin, Limerick or Cork," he added. "Different companies have different philosophies but at the end of the day we find we attract more talent by leveraging technology that allows you to be productive but not necessarily at your desk five days a week."

Hegarty was speaking after the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network global summit in Toronto, Canada. More than 100 female entrepreneurs from 16 countries, including Ireland, attended, as well as a number of investors.

Hegarty said Dell's diversity policies were increasingly striking a note with customers. "The market place and customers are beginning to expect customers, look at them and say is this a diverse and inclusive organisation, has it got the right sustainability policies, the right corporate social responsibilities? These are becoming key parts of decision making for companies and for your customers. We do a post-win or post-loss (analysis), asking why did we win or lose. We are seeing a number of ones coming through which have taken diversity into account. It is also coming through in terms of people joining the organisation."

Asked about the changing political mood in the US and Europe, he said Dell's policies would be unchanged. "The reality is the EU is a multicultural environment. I think we have 46 different nationalities in Dublin and Cork and Limerick and you need that diversity of skills, experience and talent. Is the Irish economy as an open economy more successful because we have a diverse set of talent? Of course it is, massively more so."

Anja Monrad, senior vice-president and general manager for Central and Eastern Europe, was among those speaking at the event about women in IT. She oversees 27 countries and said there are significant cultural differences in how women are viewed in business across Europe. She said communism has meant women in the workforce have been commonplace in Eastern Europe.

But as the roles become more senior, the cultural expectations of a woman's role change and often women are expected to leave the workforce when they become mothers, particularly in countries such as Greece and Romania.

"But I see more and more young females in these countries rising and I think there is focus in Eastern Europe as much as anywhere else on gender equality."

Sunday Indo Business

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