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December 7, 2023
During last month’s Channel Futures Leadership Summit in Miami Beach, some women channel leaders got together behind closed doors for a no-holds-barred roundtable. Moderated by Brittany Watts, marketing director for channel at Informa Tech, and Buffy Naylor, managing editor of Channel Futures, the roundtable included Allison Bergamo, CEO of Bergamo Marketing Group; Pamela Diaz, CEO and president of Entara. Hilary Gadda, head of national partner management for Coro; and MeiLee Langley, vice president of global marketing for Xcitium.
The group covered a wide range of topics during their hour-long discussion. But no matter what the subject, from how men and women differ in their leadership styles to how younger generations differ in their approach to work, there was one common denominator: the gaping lack of equity for women in the workforce, both inside the channel and outside.
Women want equity. Not equality, equity — that’s what the “e” in “DE&I” stands for. When there is equality, all parties receive the same resources or opportunities. When there is equity, consideration is given to parties’ differing circumstances. Equality is guaranteed by labor laws. Equity is harder to come by.
Take, for example, motherhood, arguably the biggest different circumstance for women leaders. “Women are struggling to figure out the right way to navigate motherhood and work and moving up the corporate ladder,” said Entara’s Diaz. “There’s so much that women have to navigate.
“I saw a cartoon of a man and a woman on a running track. The man was running along with no obstacles, while the woman had babies, dishes and laundry in her lane that she had to get over or around. I know that a lot of men are stepping up and doing more, but the lion’s share still sits with women,” she said.
Men and women bring different skill sets to leadership positions. For one thing, “men tend to be fixers, they have a fixer mindset,” said Bergamo. “Women have a different approach. It’s more collaborative.” Men set out to solve an issue, whereas women tend to start by looking beyond the issue to see if it could be the symptom of an even larger problem.
For women leaders — in all areas of business, not just the channel — the overarching problem is that they are bucking the system. Impostor syndrome, not being heard, being excluded or overlooked and lacking equity are just some of the symptoms.
“Change is hard and systemic change is really hard,” said XCitium’s Langley. But, she stressed, as today’s women leaders are managing their own careers, they must also encourage young women to enter the channel and mentor them as they develop.
“The channel is kind of aging out,” Langley said. “We don’t have as many young people coming into the channel. That could create a problem of not having enough people coming up behind us. But it also gives us the opportunity to pull more women in.
“We need to look at women, especially younger women, and get them into the channel. We must be willing to teach them how the channel works and how they can succeed within it. We can help create and shape the next generation of channel leaders who are going to be taking on our roles and, hopefully, have more women at the table. But that has to start now so they’re all at those tables when we’re ready to retire.”
Our slideshow spotlights 10 recommendations from the Women’s Leadership Roundtable.
Managing Editor, Channel Futures
Buffy Naylor is managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.
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