Leveraging technology expertise for social impact
Amerman explained that CDW focuses on digital equity, starting with providing access to the technology itself – hardware, software and connectivity. “It’s one thing to have the technology, but you also have to be able to use it. And so we are focused on supporting education,” she said.
She gave three examples of how the company’s DEI initiatives are having a positive impact. “The first is that it reinforces a culture of caring, giving and service,” she explained. These efforts also enable the company to positively and equitably impact communities and create meaningful opportunities for employee engagement and development.
“In conclusion,” she said, “social impact improves our communities, it empowers our employees and improves our business.”
Mensah-Bonsu spoke about how DEI’s efforts can benefit businesses and communities. He pointed out CDW Legacy Excellence Program, which partners with historically black colleges and universities to build a more equitable and diverse workforce at CDW. “We take advantage of it. We’re getting talent that we wouldn’t normally have because we’ve created this mechanism to allow really good, talented, high-quality candidates to come into our organization.
“You can actively participate and engage in dialogue with people who don’t seem to share the same type of experience as you. And that will allow you to be a more consistent leader,” he added. “It’s not about becoming a freedom fighter. It’s just that you understand that maybe we all have privilege in this world, and how we extend that privilege, how we leverage it that really speaks to who we are as an organization and a society.
READ MORE: Find out how diversity can positively impact business results.
Business diversity has become an imperative
Malek moderated a panel on corporate diversity that included Ari Kessler, Founder and COO of My battery recyclers; Farad Ali, Chairman and CEO of Associated; Marquis Miller, Director of Diversity for the city of chicago; and Tad Rzonca, president and co-founder of V3Gate.
It began by recognizing the changing expectations society has of businesses. Consumers are increasingly aware of social issues and are demanding the same from business leaders. “Through sustained action, we are able to make meaningful differences in society. While building trust, expectations have changed. What we do know is that there is overwhelming pressure around ESG and DEI, corporate diversity and supplier diversity.
Miller explained that he works with the Chicago Small Business Director to increase the city’s business volume “with diverse vendors of all races, ethnicities and genders, but also to utilize the city’s bullying pulpit. , if you will, to encourage Chicago business to fulfill its commitment to do more business with communities that historically haven’t done a level of business that would allow them to build sustainability and participate in what we call the movement of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
Ali, owner of the largest black-owned business in Texas, highlighted the impact of his company’s work with local nonprofits such as Mogul Planet, an organization that focuses on teaching entrepreneurial skills to children. “When you start talking about the trickle down effect of doing business with various companies, it’s not just measured in revenue, but also in economic impact.”