posted by Arial Harland on Monday, August 14, 2017 in Unified Communications and IT Blog

ChannelCon 2017 was filled with intense industry training, ample peer-to-peer learning, incredible networking opportunities and one unforgettable call to action by CompTIA President and CEO, Todd Thibodeaux. He truly memorialized this year’s theme: Be The Change.

Thibodeaux’s challenge to the IT channel was to be a more diverse industry and to recognize the channel’s need for inclusion. Right now our industry is missing the opportunity to tap into a wide range of talent and he cited staggering statistics to support this claim.

He also identified areas where we can focus our efforts to improve practices and encourage diversity. What stood out to me from this important, industry-wide call to action was the need to improve our collective hiring methods and organizational cultures.

A common misperception is there aren’t large pools of culturally different people to select from in certain areas. So, it may be easy to think this challenge isn’t directed at you. However, diversity can be subtle. It comes in many forms; differences in generations, age, gender, socioeconomic background, or race are just a few examples. This diversity adds multiple perspectives, experiences and backgrounds that enhance our organizations and take our industry to the next level.  

channelcon culture diversity

As you consider Thibodeaux’s call to action here are 3 tips to cultivate an inclusive culture.

  1. Start With Awareness
    Culture starts at the top and erodes from the bottom. As a leader in your organization you set the tone for what is important to your business. Take note of who you hire and why. Project to your people that diversity isn’t about filling a quota, but is an extremely important way to build dynamic teams. With inclusion you can incorporate different viewpoints, thoughts and ideas. Demonstrate leadership in our industry and your company by being a champion of diversity and celebrating all of the positives that come with having employees of many different backgrounds.
  2. Identify New Talent Pools
    If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Develop recruiting strategies that move beyond the traditional ways you’ve always attracted new team members. In our hyper-connected world today, it is possible to tap into many different groups and get your job in front of a new talent pool. LinkedIn Groups are a great start to broadening your network. This may mean building partnerships with new sources, or going outside your comfort zone, but if the effort gains you greater exposure to a different set of talent, it will be worth it.
  3. Cultivate a Culture of Diversity
    Your culture is an output of the uniquely shared values, beliefs and behaviors demonstrated by the members of your organization. Every organization has a culture, whether or not it has been formally cultivated or grown organically on its own. Having a set of core values within your organization identifies what your organization stands for and creates consistency through shared expectations of which behaviors fit into the organization, and which ones don’t. Does your culture reinforce inclusive behavior and attitudes? Simply stating yes is not enough. Take a microscope to the written and unwritten rules within your organization that may have an impact on the mindset and behaviors of your employees. Ask yourself: In what ways do my organizational ‘rules’ influence a diverse culture?

    If answering that question is difficult, consider focusing on the aspects of your organization listed below that have a strong influence on your culture. As you ask yourself each of the following questions, consider whether they are impacting inclusion and diversity.
    • Leadership: What characteristics and background are typical of people in leadership positions?  Do we promote from within? Do our leaders demonstrate behaviors and attitudes that welcome inclusion and diversity?
    • Hiring: What is our hiring process? Who is involved? How are our values reflected in HOW we hire, and WHO we hire?
    • Job Design & Enablers: What do we provide to enable effective job performance? Do we provide training, tools and onboarding which help us to build an environment of inclusion and diversity?
    • Rewards & Recognition: What do we measure, reward and recognize at the individual, team or department levels and do we explicitly reward and recognized desired behaviors?
    • Communication: What key messages are repeated regularly? Do we communicate in a way that demonstrates we welcome diversity?
    • Workspace: What do various features of the workspace convey (awards, quotes, collaborative spaces, private offices, etc.?)
    • Organization Structure: How are work groups or teams structured? And how do we enable collaboration within and among them as needed? 

Choices you make in each of these areas send strong messages about your values – what’s important to you and your company – and they encourage or discourage certain behaviors. This includes behaviors that make your environment diverse and inclusive. If you want to start seeing change, you have to be the change; not overnight, but in manageable increments. Let’s begin to build a stronger channel by including valuable talent and cultivating a culture that promotes diversity, starting by looking within.

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About The Author

Arial Harland is a Human Resources & Organizational Development Consultant with PathShare® HR Services Group at GreatAmerica Financial Services, where she enjoys fostering relationships with business owners by helping them with their organizational challenges. Arial joined GreatAmerica in 2014 and she is a certified AVA Analyst through Bizet Human Asset Management. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Sciences and Psychology at Coe College and her Master of Organizational Leadership through St. Ambrose University. She was named an industry “Difference Maker” in ENX Magazine in 2018. She was also one of six named as an industry “Young Influencer” in The Cannata Report in 2018. 

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