ChannelTrends: Why Diversity Should be Non-Negotiable in the Workplace

Stagnation is one of the biggest threats to business. No matter if it’s a one-person tech services business or a large multinational supplier, taking a “status quo” approach to sales, marketing, support, and development will be detrimental to long-term growth. For some, that could take years, but for others, mere months, if not weeks.

Positive change fuels business improvement. Technology companies need to continually transform to improve quality of the products and services they deliver and meet the needs of similarly evolving customers. Those changes require a continuous infusion of ideas, as well as viewpoints and perspectives that differ from those of current team members.

Diversity helps businesses accomplish those crucial transformations. Team members with differing life experiences and other cultural backgrounds bring more ideas to the table. Some challenge the status quo in a positive manner, asking questions, making suggestions, or providing new perspectives on long-term projects. They may be less inhibited by company norms and be more willing to challenge deep-seated practices and policies that slow organizational growth.  

Diversity Hiring Lifts All Boats
A major benefactor of workplace diversity is the company’s existing workforce. Exposing team members to people with different backgrounds and unique life experiences expands everyone’s vision of work ‒ and the world.

That’s a big advantage to those looking to expand their horizons in today’s global business ecosystem. Collaboration between those with dissimilar life experiences and cultures can be quite enlightening. Successful teams overcome communication and perception disparities, forming beneficial work relationships that last years ‒ if not lifetimes.

Interaction eliminates the unconscious barriers that exist between individuals with diverse backgrounds, increasing morale and collaboration. Those work experiences ultimately enrich lives, boost careers, and foster success for their employers. Diversity expands the horizons for everyone and every company involved.

Move Forward Without Scrapping the Past
Proactive diversity recruitment programs are more about empowerment than exclusion. That means extending equal opportunities to all job candidates and expanding the scope and reach of corporate hiring programs. Screening processes and issues that unknowingly restrict the quality and size of the talent pool, including unconscious bias, need to be identified and eliminated. 

The first step is defining the objective. As CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux explained during his keynote at ChannelCon 2017, “Diversity isn’t just about the color of your skin or your gender. True diversity comes from engaging people from different socioeconomic backgrounds; from different parts of the world or country; and from different work and life experiences. It’s gathering and utilizing a wide variety of opinions and ideas.”

Next up is determining what processes need to change. Most organizations need to expand their recruitment efforts geographically and philosophically to attract a more diverse workforce. For example, suburban companies that normally hire from local colleges and set up mentoring and training programs in their own communities could shift or expand their efforts to inner cities or rural areas.  

The best way to boost creativity and collaboration is to deviate from long-time norms. What skills does a person need to be successful in a certain role? Could words or phrases included in job postings prevent certain qualified individuals from applying for an open position?

Those may seem like simple questions, but subtleties in language and perceived intent may alienate or turn off capable prospective candidates. While often unintentional, these screening practices discourage corporate diversity and can limit organizational growth. Of course, addressing those issues is just step one in what should be a non-negotiable, long-term strategy.      

The next steps can be more difficult. The CompTIA Advancing Diversity in Technology and Advancing Women in Technology Communities share those types of best practices regularly. Check out some of the valuable member-developed resources they’ve created to help overcome diversity challenges.          

 

Brian Sherman is president of Tech Success Communications, a channel-related content and social media development firm. He served previously as the chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com