The Channel Embraces Diversity, Equity, and InclusionBy Howard M. Cohen | Print
There is a movement in IT to improve diversity, and channel partners are leading the way.
The IT industry can, in many ways, be considered a model of diversity and inclusion. When you think about all the inventors, engineers, software developers, and visionaries from all over the world who have contributed to the development of the core technologies that enable our industry, it truly is a gorgeous mosaic of people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, beliefs, and more.
It is also true that we live in a time of great division between people, philosophies, politics, and more. It is all too easy to lapse into a "we-they" mentality that is completely unproductive.
But industry leaders, including Microsoft, Cisco, and many others, have taken responsibility for showing leadership in promoting the importance of a diverse community and including everyone in the decision-making that drives us all forward.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
As with most things, there are many perspectives, opinions, and definitions for terms like "diversity" and "inclusion," "bias" and "equity."
Former Microsoft Director and author of "Women Kicking Glass" Pattie Grimm offers an excellent, productive set of definitions that provides wonderful insight and guidance:
Diversity is being invited to the meeting
Equity is being given a seat at the table
Inclusion is being given a decision-making voice at the table
Public movements like Black Lives Matter remind us that whole races of people still feel marginalized and excluded by much of mainstream business and society. This past year saw peaceful demonstrations led by BLM that included people of every race. All banded together to speak with one voice to the importance of ending the strife caused by unconscious and conscious bias by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
IT Industry Makes a Commitment
We’ve also seen many of the major and minor companies in the IT industry publicly declare their commitment to driving diversity and inclusion within their ranks. In June of last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reminded us, "We need to ensure that our culture of inclusion is a top priority for everyone. It starts with our values of respect, integrity, and accountability. Each of us must be able to thrive in diverse teams. Every manager must be able to attract, retain, and grow employees of all backgrounds. This is certainly true at Microsoft, and also more broadly. It is the new baseline for manager excellence across industries across the globe."
Global integrator Insight, winner of Microsoft’s 2020 Partner of the Year award, was also recognized "for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Rated by Fortune as a Best Workplace for Diversity, Insight fosters teamwork and unity through teammate resource groups like Women with Insight, Unidos with Insight, Insight Stands Out, and Afro Professional and Allies at Insight. The company offers a variety of allyship workshops, unconscious bias trainings and executive listening sessions. It also drives diversity through app accessibility at a technical design level, aligning to the Microsoft #BuildFor2030 campaign to make the cloud accessible for all."
"Our teammates are Insight’s greatest strength alongside our intelligent technology solutions. We champion people, leadership and culture because investing in our teammates and living by our values enhances everything we do for our clients,” said Ken Lamneck, president and CEO, Insight. "Making the Fortune 100 diversity list once again punctuates how we have created a workplace that attracts top talent. Bright minds from all walks of life lead to new ideas, better service and smarter solutions for our clients, allowing businesses to truly maximise the value of IT."
Last month, in December 2020, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins committed that, "Cisco will help bridge gaps of inequity and exclusion worldwide through the technology we build, our scale and extended ecosystem, our commitment to corporate social responsibility and social justice, our teams, and the support we bring to our communities."
IT Industry Leads the Way
Clearly, the IT industry demonstrates great leadership in the movement to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level. Great, highly talented people do not all come in any one race, or from any one country. The IT industry is indeed inviting everyone, seating them at the table, and listening to their voices to help drive better decision-making, and better businesses.