Gender Diversity in the Channel and the 'Cloak of Complacency'

Just because you "respect" women leaders doesn't mean your company is doing enough for gender equality.

December 17, 2020

3 Min Read

By Nancy Ridge


Nancy Ridge

Although January 2017 saw the collective power of women with the Women’s March and the “Me Too” movement, the last few years have been a dark time for gender diversity.

Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman I respect greatly and really like as a human being. He is a longtime friend and colleague working in an organization that is an admitted “boys club.” As he mentioned their plans to mentor a couple of college graduates, I asked if any of them were female and the answer was “no.” It started a conversation that came close to being heated. His genuine and honest position is that he is not gender-biased and neither is his company; yet, he admitted he doesn’t think of gender equality. Because he and the other leaders in his company respect and admire female leaders and colleagues, in their minds it’s a done deal.

After assuring him I wasn’t accusing him or the company of misogyny, we got to have a conversation about what it would look like to create an intention to add female leaders to their organization, to seek young women to sponsor and mentor — in short, to create stated objectives with metrics just like any other important initiative. I’ve seen others do this in the channel with great success — not just success in checking a box. Real success was achieved because they hired women and their organizations are thriving as a result of their new diversity.

Cloak of Complacency

One of the positive things emerging from the tremendous pain and disruption of 2020 is the renewed focus on gender diversity. In the tech space – and specifically, the partner channel – many powerful female voices are being raised and getting heard. Yet one of the greatest challenges is to overcome lurking bias under the cloak of complacency, an attitude of “it’s handled.”

Channel Partners and Channel Futures help foster an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion in the channel and the technology community as a whole. Thus, we are featuring news articles, first-person accounts and strategies around topics of race, diversity and inclusion to spur discussion of these important subjects. Visit our webpage dedicated to the topic.

In 2021, I will raise my voice along with other female leaders once again that it’s not enough to hold an internal belief. We must make a commitment and take action on those beliefs to see them realized in the world. Not because “it’s the right thing to do,” not because of legislation, and not even because it makes proven business sense — although all those reasons are valid. Take action, because ultimately, we get to demonstrate our love: for diversity, for each other and for how it expands our businesses and our hearts.

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Nancy Ridge is founder and president of Ridge Innovative. She also is a member of the Allies of the Channel Council.

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