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Expert Insights, Advice on Recession-Proofing Your DE&I Initiative

DEI 101

Combine a great meal with food for thought and you have the DE&I 101 luncheon at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

The annual Channel Futures DE&I 101 honors individuals who are driving diversity, equity and inclusion in the communications and IT channel. The DE&I 101 luncheon both celebrates these honorees and provides them with the opportunity to network and connect with other #CPExpo attendees.

In addition, the luncheon will include a panel of DE&I-focused executives will address economic concerns plaguing many DE&I initiatives right now. They will share ideas for low-cost and no-cost tactics to make work environments more inclusive; plus, how to get senior executives on board.

“Recession-Proof Your DE&I Initiative” will feature Kelli Ballou-McMillan, global partner director at Five9 and founder of the Xposure Inclusion and Diversity Council, and Anthony Graziano, worldwide head of channel marketing for Logitech, with serving as moderator.

[Editor's Note: Raquel Wiley is one of more than 150 channel visionaries and experts speaking at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. The event also features more than 375 ICT companies in the massive expo hall. Register now for the world’s largest independent channel event, May 1-4, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.]

Wiley, a business marketing and communication executive is well-known in the industry as a dedicated DE&I advocate. She is a former officer and member of the board of directors for Alliance of Channel Women (ACW) and serves as chair of ACW’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. In addition, she was an honoree on the inaugural Channel Futures DE&I 101 and a founding member of the Channel Futures DE&I Advisory Board.

Setting the Stage

In a Q&A, Wiley offered some of the insights she gained during her many years of promoting DE&I. All three panel members will offer up more insights and expert advice during their discussion.

Channel Partners: What do you think is the most important thing for people to understand about DE&I?

Raquel Wiley: DE&I is not and should not be treated as a “trend” that is no longer relevant. Rather, it’s more important now more than ever before. It’s important for us to understand that the climate and sensitivity regarding DE&I issues are greater today than they were a few years ago.

DE&I will continue to impact organizations to a much greater degree (good, bad or indifferent) than it did five years ago. People are more knowledgeable and are operating with higher sense of awareness. As a result, decision-making as to who people want to work for will change. How they show up as it pertains to their efforts. At the same time, end users/prospects/paying customers are changing with whom they do business. More and more, they are wanting to do work with other organizations that are making DE&I a focal topic within their businesses.

NetFortris' Raquel Wiley

CP: What is the most important thing any person or company can do to advance DE&I?

RW: For companies, it’s invest and focus. Invest in understanding your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Invest in the people/talent that make up your organization — this is the heart of your business success. Focus on short- and long-term goals. Everything can’t be done at once. Identify the quick hitters that will be impactful and help gain momentum. And I’d add be transparent — people no longer trust silence!

For people, it’s simple: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be the change that you want to see and experience in your universe.

CP: What, to date, is the accomplishment in your DE&I work of which you are the proudest?

RW: There are two, but I’ll just focus on one. That’s the impact that I had while serving on the board at ACW. I was the voice behind closed doors encouraging the board to begin to rethink and relook at how we were addressing DE&I within the community that we were serving. Being the first African-American female on the board, I was able to help them understand that the issues we were addressing needed to go further than gender. I made a conscious decision to be vulnerable and share some not-so-fun stories about my experience as a Black woman in this space and how different it was than theirs. To see the lightbulbs begin to go off and have people understand that we had our work cut out for us was wonderful.

Today there are several women of color serving on that board. There are more women of color and others from underserved groups represented within that organization. It’s such a joy to see.

CP: What are the biggest challenges you have personally encountered in your DE&I work?

RW: Having people regard the whole issue of DE&I with a “What’s the big deal?” attitude. And having some people perceive me as being an angry black woman.

The DE&I 101 Luncheon & Networking event will take place Monday, May 1, from 11:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The event is open to all pass types, but seating is limited, so p

Channel Partners Conference & Expo, DE&I