Embracing Diversity in the IT Channel


As many EDGE360 readers know, I am passionate about diversity and women in the IT Channel. I continue to find opportunities to learn and collaborate with peers on these issues, and it has been very promising to see my own organization, along with others in the industry, championing diversity. In the past few weeks, I’ve attended two SYNNEX events where the issues of diversity and women in the IT Channel were highlighted.

During the SYNNEX Varnex Spring 2018 event, SYNNEX F2F (Friend2Friend – Face2Face – Female2Female) hosted a luncheon. F2F is a community that unites women from all walks within the IT industry to promote professional and personal growth. Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, President of StarTech.com and former Westcon-Comstor executive, spoke about the three Cs that have shaped her career – curiosity, competence and courage – and how we can apply the same principles to our own lives.

What was most surprising for me during the event was that the room wasn’t only filled with women. Men continue to be strong supporters for diversity issues, and it was apparent with nearly one-third of the room comprised of men from the reseller, vendor and SYNNEX communities. They attended the luncheon to learn, network and support women in the channel.

The focus on diversity continued on the main stage of the SYNNEX Red White and You conference. Keynote speaker Teri Takai, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Government, has been a long-time diversity champion throughout her career. Terri was the first woman appointed to the role of CIO at the US Department of Defense, and she discussed the IT challenges she’s encountered during her 30-year career in federal, state and local governments. Based on her experience, she offered partners some suggestions on how to sell into the public sector and highlighted challenges CIOs face today that resellers can help to solve.

Teri encouraged us to consider the demographic make-up of the public sector employees who will be tasked with implementing the technology we will be selling. For example, the public sector workforce is 20 percent older on average than in the commercial space. While there is an increasing amount of information available about how to work with the Millennial generation, Baby Boomers and Generation X workers are still more prevalent in the public sector workforce.  This poses a unique challenge to the Public Sector CIO who has to balance teaching new skills to an aging workforce with meeting the needs of a growing young workforce. One key way that partners can help with this when selling to these CIOs is offering custom training solutions that are designed to accommodate both.

Another action Teri recommends for every leader, mentor, parent and human is to offer technology opportunities to everybody. Studies have shown that companies with higher diversity levels realize greater financial results, yet women represent only 4 percent of CIO positions today. In Silicon Valley, that number is only slightly higher at 6 percent, so technology companies may be moving faster to diversify the workforce. We can do better.

Cultivating diversity continues to be a challenge in the Channel, but I’m encouraged to see so many leaders standing up and sharing best practices for creating new cultures of inclusion and collaboration.

I recently shared my own advice for women in the Channel. You can view the video below:

Are you interested in championing diversity in the workplace? SYNNEX F2F is free, and you’ll receive regular communications on mentoring, philanthropy and more. To join visit: www.synnexcorp.com/f2f


  • Molly Sherwood

    Molly is the Director of Marketing for Westcon-Comstor North America. She is a regular contributor to EDGE360 and has over 20 years experience driving strategic marketing, business planning and channel enablement strategies for Fortune 500 technology companies.

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