The tech industry lags when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Lynn Haber

September 10, 2020

6 Min Read
Business Case

CHANNEL PARTNERS VIRTUAL — The business case for diversity is strong. We’ve known about the business benefits and facts about inclusive cultures for years; for example, achieving better financial goals, better business outcomes and increased innovation. The goal now is to establish a road map for creating an inclusive culture in the tech industry, according to panelists at Channel Partners Virtual on Thursday.

This is what the benefits of diversity look like. Companies are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals. They’re three times as likely to be high-performing, and six times as likely to be agile and innovative. They are eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.


Risha Grant

“I’ve been in this industry for 25 years, and the business case has never been more important,” moderator Risha Grant, international speaker and host, Risha Talks Series, said during The Business Case for Diversity keynote. “Companies are scrambling to make changes as they try to figure out how to create inclusive cultures.”

Long Road Ahead

As good as the business case for diversity looks, it doesn’t reflect what’s happening in the tech industry.

“In the last six years that tech companies have been publishing their annual diversity reports, we have seen very little change,” said Grant.

Making inroads of her own in technology is the self-described unicorn, and first-generation Latina, Nancy Sabino, CEO and co-founder, SabinoCompTech, and session panelist. She shared her first-person experience with diversity, noting that it broadens the perspective of the entire organization.

Channel Partners and Channel Futures are dedicated to fostering 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.


SabinoCompTech’s Nancy Sabino

“It allows us to do more when it comes to how we communicate with different people and how we work effectively as teams,” said Sabino.

Pointers for Hiring

Brandon Knight, vice president, business development, contact center practice at Telarus, offered some hiring pointers on what business leaders can do to address inclusion. His advice is based on the company’s experience in working with other organizations.

For example, when posting a position, look outside of the usual go-to places and job fairs.

“You’re not going to get candidates from the inner city when you’re running a job fair at a mall that’s an hour outside of the inner city,” he said. “Some of this is simple. You have to go where your audience is. Or, use platforms that more minorities may use.”


Telarus’ Brandon Knight

Knowing what areas, resources, job fairs, etc., will attract the talent you’re looking for, is vital. So it’s important that hiring companies do their homework to know where their outreach will be most effective.

CompTIA Research

CompTIA has done the research on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry to be able to identify the issues.

“One of the things that’s risen to the top, and I emphasize this whenever I speak, is that people get hung up on [the idea] that diversity means quotas. That diversity means you hire X number of black employees, X number of Hispanic employees, X number of women,” said panelist Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA. “That’s not really the case. That’s a nice value-based kind of thing to aspire to, but the reality is, if you can convince the CEO or principal owner that hiring a diverse workforce composition isn’t just a value thing to do, but rather an innovation thing to do, it’s going to be better for your business,” she said.


CompTIA’s Carolyn April

April recommends that channel business owners talk to other employers about how they’ve seen diversity add to the business benefit. When talking about diversity, April means, more specifically, a business workforce that isn’t all male and all white.

“The actual business benefit is exponential,” she said.

Do the Work

It’s one thing for companies to create a more diverse workforce; however, no one benefits if …

… this diverse workplace doesn’t feel welcome.

“What helped me feel a little more comfortable within this industry were the mentors that welcomed me in,” said Sabino. “Also, the opportunities that were given to me and finding out that there are allies out there that will help you and try to make you feel comfortable and defend you when uncomfortable conversations come up.”

By “uncomfortable,” Sabino means situations that make you feel unwelcome or like you don’t belong. If you haven’t heard the term “imposter syndrome,” it’s the feeling that you don’t belong or, literally, feeling like an imposter. Like you’re in a place where you have the skills, the knowledge and every right to be there, but your brain is telling you that you don’t belong or will be exposed because you don’t belong.

“That’s what started my fight for diversity in the industry. I thought, if I feel this way, others do as well,” she said.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is more than something that’s in your head.

“It’s because society has made you feel that you don’t belong,” said Grant.

Creating the right policies and procedures are key to developing an inclusive business culture. This requires a serious effort.

“The first step that I would tell people is to take it on. Don’t be afraid of it; don’t shy away from it,” said Knight.

Some companies create a bill of rights. This is in addition to the traditional material and information employees get from HR during the onboarding process.

“Companies usually have statements that they don’t discriminate based on race, creed, color, etc., but in order to have the culture, successful companies actually have a bill of right,” he said.

The bill of rights states how the company wants to treat employees.

“And, in this bill of rights, it talks about what to do if someone does or says something that offends you. How to have a conversation with that employee, rather to run to your supervisor or HR,” said Knight.

There’s also information for the offender on how to receive constructive feedback, and what to do with that information.

The Pandemic Twist

This year, the pandemic puts a new twist on creating a diverse business culture and remote hiring.

Businesses can hire outside of their immediate geographies as more companies adopt permanent work-from-home policies. As far as creating a more inclusive business culture, it’s imperative that business leaders access the massive amounts of data and resources that’s available to help them.

“To stay ignorant is almost a choice,” said Knight.

It will take work on all sides create change.

“In the corporate world, it can’t just be HR’s problem. It can’t be the CEO’s problem. The executives can’t be the only ones trying to drive the culture,” he added.

That said, CompTIA research indicates that top down culture has to be in place for change.

“You will not succeed unless you have CEO buy-in,” said April. “However, I agree with you that everyone is responsible for how they behave, but leadership matters, intensely, to drive a culture.”

The keynote presentation was sponsored by D&H Distributing.

About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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