More than a buzzword: vCom solutions’ DEI Journey
A diverse and inclusive workplace is a key to creativity and innovation. Learn more about the approach of vCom Solutions, a CompTIA member and California-based IT spending management firm, to DEI initiatives. A Google search for “DEI”, yields more than 176,000,000 news articles, proving that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), is widely used. While DEI initiatives are gaining popularity across industries, it is important to understand the concept of DEI as more that a trend or buzzword. A diverse and inclusive workplace in technology can encourage creativity and innovation, and give employees the freedom to be their best selves.
This is the testimony of vCom Solutions, a CompTIA member and California-based IT spend management company. In 2019, the firm made its first commitment to DEI when Gary Storm, president and CEO, set an organizational goal of becoming a signatory company to CEO Action. CEO Action is a group that shares the belief that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a societal problem and not a competitive issue. It is crucial to drive change at scale through collaboration and bold action by the business community.
It can be daunting to start with DEI initiatives from scratch. However, the diversity committee at VCom Solutions says that the best advice they can give to other organizations is to keep it simple and take each step one at a time.
Get the ball rolling
DEI is not an all-inclusive approach. Organizations may find it difficult to know where to begin. vCom started their journey by creating a DEI committee. They sent out an email survey to solicit employee volunteers in order to get things started. The response was much greater than expected.
Miranda Ruane, account executive for vCom, said that they vetted volunteers to ensure a broad range of perspectives. Finally, nine employees were selected, including an executive sponsor, and two co-chairs. This represents a staff of around 140 people. Ruane believes that once the committee was established, they took time to get to know each others. This was crucial to their success as a group.
Ruane stated that bonding as a committee was important as there were difficult decisions to make as we dived into our work. “Taking the time and getting to know each other really opened up communication.”
Redirecting Assets & Resources
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, that’s the good news. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel if your organization already has programs that are suitable for DEI initiatives.
Cassandra Allen (director of talent management) stated that “philanthropy is always been a major part of vCom’s mission.” “This was an opportunity for us to take some existing efforts, and redirect them specifically towards DEI initiatives.”
The overarching diversity committee realized this and decided to create smaller sub-committees that had three members and one co-chair. There was some overlap in related initiatives to facilitate collaboration. These smaller groups’ purpose was to inform specific actions relating to programs that would give back to the community, support small-to-medium-sized businesses, provide internships and scholarships, and partner with schools and students.
Ruane emphasizes the importance of starting small and building on the basics. She also says that understanding the layers is crucial at this stage. These layers are like a ripple. “First, you have to look at yourself. Then the company and the communities it serves. She said that you start with the smallest circle and then work your way up.
Building a Use Case
As with all business activities, it is important to make a case for DEI. It is important to build a use case. This will help you communicate the benefits of your programs or initiatives and can also build momentum with the leadership team.
Ruane was the leader of a data-gathering project last year. The goal was to confirm the suspicion that the firm needed to diversify its customer base. This could lead to more business opportunities. The ability to quantify customer demographics gave the green light to implement changes. Among its first initiatives was the DEI committee at vCom, which decided to expand an existing discount program and place more emphasis on customers from diverse backgrounds. Tech for Black Founders was also joined by the company. This group aims to remove barriers for Black entrepreneurs and technologists by providing them with free services.
Ruane stated, “Comparing our particular data with larger data made clear from all perspectives that this was what we needed to accomplish.” Learn more about data-driven DEI decisions in your tech company.
This data analytics enabled diversification of vCom’s customer base.