November 5, 2020
By Nancy Sabino
In 1983, at the age of 17, my mother made the difficult choice to leave her mother, siblings, and the only family she knew to escape the violence that threatened her safety during the civil war in El Salvador. I was born three years later.
As I grew up, my world was surrounded by women working as maids and nannies. Once their English was good enough, they were waitresses, janitors, etc.
I wondered the halls of the houses my mother cleaned when I went with her during the summers. As I looked at the faces in the pictures, the diplomas and certificates on the walls, I thought to myself, what would that take? When they belonged to a woman, I was in awe and inspired that someday my name could be on those diplomas and awards. Someday I could live in a house of my own where I could display those items proudly.
What does this have to do with the channel? The lesson I learned at such a young age was that exposure to other possibilities widened my view of the world. It allowed me to think bigger than what I had been taught to. To this day, I find myself looking through websites, at conferences and through my peers for someone else who can inspire me to keep taking steps forward, to keep broadening my world and expanding my goals.
If I can see what someone else that I can relate to on some level has accomplished, not only does that invoke pride, it instills a confidence that I too can follow in their footsteps. I, too, can make a difference, can have an impact — and can then pass the inspiration along. This is the importance behind representation.
Representation matters because it can shape how society sees minorities and how minorities they see themselves. It’s incredibly important that we’re starting to see the media move to reflect more diverse stories. The channel needs to move in that direction as well, especially as diversity grows in the channel. Representation does not stop at seeing others like you that you can relate to in person — it goes beyond that.
I recently met with a channel vendor and I noticed that none of their training videos included a woman partner. So, I asked the question: “Have you ever thought about including a woman partner in your training videos?” Their answer? Well, let’s just say that they’re working on that now. I had another experience with a vendor who called my office and told my employee they didn’t know why my name was on their list. I must have just been the wife of the owner who attended an event! We will not be doing business with that vendor because it immediately made me wonder, how diverse is their workplace? How inclusive is their culture? Would I feel comfortable visiting their office or would I feel like I don’t belong? This is the difference between having and not having representation.
How or why should this matter in business? Because if decision makers can’t see themselves through your marketing, through your messaging and throughout your interaction with them, they will not feel represented or comfortable. Feeling comfortable is the spark which leads to trust. This is true not only for vendors in the channel, but for service providers, partnerships, employment and so on. Make sure you have representation, because as the market grows more diverse, so too will the need for representation.
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