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Is it finally time to broaden the debate about diversity in the IT channel?

Is it finally time to broaden the debate about diversity in the IT channel?

Last week, I had a really good debate on LinkedIn with @Douglaswoodburn at CRN and some of the brilliant ladies who had recorded videos about the distance that there still is to go to see proper equality of representation for women in the channel.

Now this is not to take anything away from the Women in the Channel Awards that CRN put on which clearly has a massive following, with loads of entries. And that’s great, honestly.

But I’m not just a feminist. I believe in equality for everyone – regardless of gender, race and anything else! And I really think that as a channel we need to do much more to promote different types of diversity alongside the good work that’s already being done by the Women in the Channel team.

In the recent aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests I’ve had conversations with some of my BAME friends during which it’s become super clear to me that we need to do more. It’s not enough anymore to assume people know I’m not a racist – I need to say I’m an anti-racist and demonstrate that through my actions.

Many of you will also know that in my life #TransLivesMatter too – my son is transgender and I’ve again been lucky enough to have met a wide range of gender diverse people who also face discrimination and abuse. Their rights are being actively eroded by the Trump administration and even endangered in the UK with the Gender Recognition Act reforms coming under threat.

And then what about older people in the workplace? People who are less physically able? People who have come out of the armed forces and are looking for new ways to work? People who have different ways of thinking or being? In other words – anyone who is under-represented? I think that as well as the fact that we need to actively challenge examples of inequality we need to actively promote equality too. By that I mean recognise those organisations who do more for their teams – not just gender balancing and equal pay, but what are they doing to support BAME employees, to make their workplaces more accessible? What are they doing to be more sustainable, to reduce their impact on the environment, or to develop jobs and projects in their local communities?

Isn’t it time instead of just a Women in the Channel awards we have an awards that celebrates true diversity? That encourages channel businesses to do more for their BAME, gender diverse and other colleagues and friends? That encourages us all to be better, to make our business more supportive – of our staff, of each other, of our planet?

I talked quite recently with a VP of a channel organisation who is an older white man. He said if he left his current job he’d be virtually unemployable because no one wants to employ older white guys now – they want bright young things that helps them tick a diversity and inclusion box. Now, that’s a cynical world view, and let’s be honest, older white guys have had their time in the spotlight so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them. I bet they still make up the majority of senior roles in the channel too. But these guys can also make a difference – they are still often in positions of power, so use that power to make positive changes in the channel!

So – I’m just putting it out there. I’m proud to work in the channel. I know many other people are too. But isn’t it time we stepped up and took action? Shouldn’t we have awards that recognise businesses that are doing their utmost to support diversity in all its forms? Shouldn’t we be actively encouraging them and others? Maybe we should have awards for

The Most Diverse Workplace?

The Diversity Champion?

The Community Project of the Year?

The Most Accessible Workplace?

Best Diversity Project/Initiative?

An Impact Award?

An Inspirational Role Model award?

Am I talking rubbish or are you in? If you’re in and you want to help, please will you share this post, drop a comment or send me a message? I think it’s time we all had more #PRIDEINTHECHANNEL. What do you think?

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