By Keith Sanders Vice President of Coworker Services, CDW, and recently honored as one of Savoy’s Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America
CDW’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goes deep, and it goes back years. This commitment has evolved from our core values – shaping who we are, and how we work, grow and do business.
Events of last year – when social justice themes began dominating the national conversation – have shown our DEI efforts are more relevant than ever. Today, we are purposefully stepping up our commitment to ensure a culture of inclusion and equity, where everyone feels they belong.
While my team focuses on nurturing an inclusive environment for coworkers and job candidates, that cannot be separated from how we work with customers, partners and the community. It all comes back to our character, values and ethics as an organization. All of us – no matter who you are – know what it feels like to not belong. We’re intent on making sure our values are not just words on a page, but spur behavior where everyone feels they’re seen, heard and valued. We want our coworkers to bring their authentic selves to work, contribute fully and respectfully, and not have to bend out of shape to fit in.
Swift and intentional
The death of George Floyd ignited passionate and uncomfortable conversations within CDW. CDW’s most senior leaders – who are deeply committed to our efforts – led townhall discussions last June addressing racism and social injustice. Many Black coworkers shared personal stories that were raw, intimate and vulnerable. It was a powerful reminder to all that racism – both loud and subtle – often lives close to home. That dialog led us to double down on our existing commitments with even greater sensitivity.
Since June, we’ve taken swift, intentional actions to support DEI: refining long-term plans to increase diverse representation, adding forums for listening and sharing, conducting leadership training, targeting education and communications…the list is long. We’ve also made a push to support empathy and allyship. Coworkers have been actively sharing their stories on video and social media, under our Belonging. It Matters campaign. I’m especially proud that CDW coworkers created our own allyship declaration and made sure the marketplace heard us.
Bringing people together
CDW is fortunate to have mature, highly active Business Resource Groups (BRGs), and their accomplishments are truly inspiring. For example, three BRGs – Black Excellence Unlimited, Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement, and Pan Asian Council – joined forces to launch a leadership development series for people of color. In addition, our Women’s Opportunity Network has been hosting an annual Women’s Summit for the last five years and are well-attended.
While the results of our short- and long-term efforts have been quite positive, they’ve also served as a reminder that we must not let up. We’re using scorecards and each other to hold ourselves accountable, and numerous recognitions tell us we’re on the right path. Just in 2020 alone: Best Places to Work (Glassdoor), America’s Most JUST Companies (Just Capital), Best Companies for Women (Fairygodboss), America’s Best Employers for Diversity (Forbes).
As it happens, an inclusive environment tends to produce the best ideas. That’s no surprise; when people feel free to share unique ways of looking at problems, you get richer collaboration. More innovative thinking. People working together to bring technology to life for our customers. That’s what makes it a pleasure to come to work every day. That experience, for everyone, is what inclusion feels like. I genuinely believe our success, both personally and professionally, depends on IT.