Since the government-mandated drive to get firms to reveal their gender pay gap data, there has been many a po-faced exec wheeled out in front of the media to justify the stats.
Some have fared better than others.
Reseller giant CDW has told CRN that the firm is committed to "raising the issue of diversity in the channel until it is no longer an issue". Three of its nine-strong UK management team are women.
MD Dan Laws argued that rather than resorting to hand-wringing, the channel should see the fallout over the hot topic as an opportunity to take a competitive advantage.
"The debate around the pipeline of talent not having many women is accurate but it is a bit of a cop-out," Laws (pictured bottom right) said.
"It's a bit like one of my salespeople saying ‘I didn't hit my sales number because I didn't have the pipeline to do so.'
"I think it is absolutely up to us as employers to present ourselves as a worthy and positive option for females - whether that's having a diverse leadership level, or having in-house training programmes.
"You've got to attack this from multiple angles. If we're not getting the input of qualified females into certain roles, one strategy is to train them ourselves. We recruit at a junior level and we have programmes that mean that while female candidates may not come to us with a specialised skill, they can develop one while they are with CDW."
CDW's public sector sales director Penny Williams (pictured top right) is also adamant that even in a debate framed by gender, companies should remain focused on nurturing talent - in whatever form it is found.
"Having run a public sector business in the channel for the last 30 years, I can say that there have definitely been highs and lows in terms of employing women. However, I do think that it has to be about capability rather than gender, and I feel very strongly about that."
Elaborating, Williams emphasised the importance of mentoring within a business' hierarchy.
"Capability is key, so we've got to be about guiding those capabilities right from the beginning," she said.
It's a view that CRN has heard from other leading female voices within the channel.
CEO of cybersecurity consultancy Sapphire and CRN Women in Channel judge Annabel Berry recently argued that firms instinctively "sponsor" the careers of male over female employees. She said this partly explains why so few women make it to the board level.
As CRN's research has revealed, just four of the country's top 50 resellers, MSPs and consultancies have female bosses. Even among the wider tier of senior management, that figure rises to only 16 per cent.
The view from Grace Mee (pictured bottom left) - who runs CDW UK's operations division - is that while these numbers may be dispiriting, it's important for women not to be seen as "a tick in the box".
"I think my only concern is that there is always this danger of moving into positive discrimination. As a female in this industry I really hope that I have this position based on capability, not because I'm female," she said.
"I am very supportive of having a diverse workplace, and for me that's not just gender, that's race, age, sexual orientation, etc, because I think that having a balanced leadership in the business does make a difference. I know that even at interview level, women have been able to speak to me about my career within the industry, and ask how my career has been developed. It's a positive for new talent entering the channel…It's an advantage worth having."
Yvonne Matzk (pictured top left) is CDW UK's director of partners and marketing. She acknowledges that there is a significant disparity in the number of women in technical roles in the channel, which she calls "the area of biggest challenge for us".
Yet when it comes to recruitment, she said she believes employees are increasingly making decisions on which firms to apply to, based partly on representation.
"We do want to attract diverse talent, because the question is how much better can we be if we engage in a debate that involves a diverse population," she said. "If you looked at a number of our recruitment campaigns and spoke to a number of people who are with us now, I think they would in some instances say that our being diverse and representative across our leadership team is one of the reasons they looked to us in the first place."
Laws added: "There is a status quo point of view that says 'Things are fine. Why should we change?' But my argument would be that if you involve a broader decision-making group that is more diverse, you can accelerate projects, make better decisions and ultimately, those firms that take that strategy will accelerate faster than those that don't."
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