FOUR FORMER DELL managers are suing the firm for unfair discrimination against women, claiming the computer giant pays men more for equal work and doesn’t promote women to the highest positions. The class action suit also claims women were unfairly picked on in layoffs last year.
Mildred Chapman, Angela Hopkins, Julia Mahaffey and Bethany Riches, four former Dell HR execs, are accusing the firm of being nothing more than an "old boy network".
The suit also claims Dell layoffs in May 2007, which handed 8,800 souls their pink slips, unfairly targeted women and workers over 40. Also, over 80 per cent of Dell's upper management is male with no women in the company's highest tier of executives, the lawsuit whinges.
In a statement, the womens’ lawyer, Steven Wittels, notes "at Dell, it is an understatement to say that women face a glass ceiling; Dell's glass ceiling is made of concrete."
Included in the evidence is an email allegedly sent by Dell Veep, Michael Summers, to plaintiff Bethany Riches saying she shouldn't assume she's personally responsible if she had problems "breaking into arguably one of the toughest old boy networks". Its stops just short of adding that she shouldn’t worry her pretty little head about it.
Riches also reckons she and her sisterhood at Dell were repeatedly denied promised promotions.
Mildred Chapman tells a similar tale of woe, saying she was denied promotions and pay increases again and again, despite having more responsibilities than her younger male directors, who probably never even washed up their own plates. To add insult to injury, Chapman was laid off from Dell in April.
Each of the four women reckon they’ve lost over $1 million in salary and benefits thanks to Dell's alleged sexist discrimination, money they now hope to extract from Dell’s deep pockets, or company credit card. But Dell spinner David Frink told the Washington Post the lawsuit was "without merit". After all, women, bah, what do they know about these complex legal things?
Dell is very careful about presenting itself as a diverse company to the outside world, with its website even boasting a diversity page which claims over half of the company's employees are women or minorities. The page goes on to say that a full third of the company's workforce are women – although it doesn’t mention if any of these happen to be kitchen staff - and 32 percent of the company's US veeps are women or minorities, apparently.
Dell even boasts having won awards for its diversity programmes.
So Dell’s response seems to be something along the lines of “quit sniveling already, women, get in the kitchen and make us some pie… direct on-demand”. µ
London-based firm is a leading contributor to the AdoptOpenJDK project
But only in India
But when remains unclear
It just, er, works