September 2, 2022
By Emily Glass
As one of the few female CEOs in the channel industry, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges that come with working in a male-dominated space. But I believe we can, as an industry, create a more diverse and equitable future.
My experience leading Syncro has shown me that even small changes in policies and procedures can have a big impact on your company’s culture. We’ve made it a priority to embrace diversity and inclusion by spending many hours, not just talking about it, but actively challenging systemic issues that hinder it.
To create a more inclusive workplace at your channel business, employees must first become aware of their biases, then use that understanding to examine their current behavior and policies in order to improve hiring practices and foster a safe working environment for all. Let’s explore three practices that we’ve implemented at Syncro that created a more open-minded and welcoming culture that you might use at your own company.
#1 – Make Space for Discussion of Social Issues
We chose to make space for awareness training focused on racial healing. This helps to begin to address the root cause of prejudice and inequality, which is a conditioned state that many of us aren’t even aware of and that takes much education and introspection to understand.
You can invest in racial healing training to move toward a more equitable workplace. The way we do this is by hosting a live four-week online course for all new hires. The course explores the inner work of racial healing and incorporates readings from leading racial justice advocates. It also uses meditation to help participants explore their reactions to the topics and conversations and reflect on what they’ve heard.
Following each training session, participants join a weekly one-hour meeting with a smaller group of their colleagues to discuss points outlined in the workbook provided and share their thoughts.
The goal of this course is to explore the systemic nature of racism and foster a better understanding of how it operates in us and through us. It may feel uncomfortable and it should, because it’s hard work to understand and overcome prejudice. This also can feel challenging to do in a workplace, where some employees may not be comfortable at the outset. It helps set the tone that we are full people, we are all on a journey to be better humans, we will make mistakes, and we can learn and improve together. It fosters a sense of trust to explore difficult topics together.
#2 – Emphasize Proper Name Pronunciation and Preferred Pronouns
Our names are a key part of who we are. They’re deeply rooted in personal, cultural, familial and historical ties. They’re a part of our identity. To feel appreciated in our organizations, it’s vital that names be pronounced correctly.
When you don’t make an effort to pronounce someone’s name correctly, it shows their identity isn’t important enough to you to exert the energy to get it right. This goes directly against the idea of creating a safe, inclusive and equitable workspace. Make sure your employees take the time to get it right.
Our pronouns are another integral part of our identity and how we communicate with one another. Understanding the importance of pronoun communication is crucial because it’s a way to identify or refer to someone else. Instead of making an assumption about someone’s pronouns, just ask!
Your company can teach employees about the importance of name pronunciation by making it a part of the new hire onboarding process. Many communication software tools allow an employee to specify the correct pronunciation and pronouns. For example, at Syncro we use Slack which stores both pronunciations and pronouns and is easily referenceable by others with whom you’re in communication. Make setting these values standard practice for all new hires, to reinforce the use and importance.
#3 – Create Belonging Among Employees
Strive to create a workplace where employees feel represented and can be themselves. Here are two simple ways MSPs can demonstrate intention and thoughtfulness to create an equitable and inclusive working environment:
Affinity group Slack channels are a great way to promote employee belonging at your company. The purpose of these groups is to…
…provide a safe space where people can talk, hang out, and be themselves without fear of judgment. Here are some examples of Slack channels that we use and you can adapt to your own MSP:
#wec → women’s empowerment committee for all who identify as women
#earthtones → for all who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color)
#rainbow → for members of the LGBTQIA+ community
#asian-and-pacific-islanders → for all who identify themselves as Asian or Pacific Islanders
An informal time to share interests and discover new talents is important to increase appreciation for others. Try reserving time in your all-company meetings for some informal exchanges. At Syncro, one way we achieve this is using Lightning Talks.
During 15-minute Lightning Talks, employees are encouraged to share their thoughts with the team on any topic, whether it be business-related or personal, without fear of judgment. People also regularly use this time to share important holidays or traditions that mean a lot to them. Employees feel empowered and included when they can share their most meaningful moments with others in the workspace. You can call this session anything you’d like, maybe even something that resonates with your brand. Get creative with it!
Another way we achieve this is with Toasts. Whatever the occasion — a celebration, end of year, Syncro-tines (Valentine’s Day) — we take the opportunity to record video messages to each other and share our excitement, congratulations or awe for our colleagues. It’s a feel-good practice that helps highlight contributions and show how we are all working together towards our goals.
Building an Inclusive Global Community
These small but mighty practices can help your business build a global community across borders of all kinds and create an environment where everyone can grow into their best selves. These are but a few of the practices we’ve found to be effective at moving us forward and fostering a community. I’d love to hear practical tips from others as to what’s working in their organizations.
Emily Glass is president and CEO of Syncro, an all-in-one RMM, PSA and remote access tool that helps managed service providers run more profitable businesses. She is also a member of the 2022 Channel Futures DE&I 101.
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