It is vitally important to shout about female success in our industry, but the wider issue of diversity should also not be ignored.
That is the view of Ingram's director of cloud and software, Apay Obang-Oyway (pictured), who is a judge on CRN's Women in Channel (WiC) Awards.
"As a father, son, nephew and husband, I'm a strong advocate of women in channel initiatives," he said. "However, the challenge we have is that we are looking through one prism to address a wider issue - that of diversity."
Obang-Oyway said it was important not to ignore the wider opportunities generated by diversity.
"We need to look at it through a wider lens to ensure we address the broader issues around diversity and not just focus on one thing - ie gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and so on," he added.
He said there was no doubt that businesses and organisations are richer when they embrace diversity.
"These companies innovate faster and deliver greater success when they invest the whole, rather than just the sum of their parts. At Ingram we have a very strong women in IT strategy - and the female speaker line-up at our recent Cloud Summit speaks volumes," he said.
He added that as a WiC judge, he is looking forward to reading the entries: "I'm most excited to read about how people have embraced their challenges and succeeded, irrespective of the barriers they have had to overcome."
On a personal level, Obang-Oyway said it was important to him that meritocracy prevails.
"Bias does exist, whether it is conscious or unconscious, but we have to ensure it doesn't limit our ability to succeed. At the heart of everything when you tackle diversity, it should be through a prism of meritocracy," he explained. "As an individual I never want to receive or achieve anything except on my own merits. I certainly don't want to be awarded something because I fit a specific demographic."
The issue needs to be addressed in both the education system and the media, he said, as everything starts with how children are taught to interact.
"As far as our industry goes, we need to focus on delivering diversity in terms of capabilities - the opportunities for everybody are vast," he added.
And he said the IT industry is definitely on the right road to achieving this.
"If you look at the innovators and leaders who already exist in our industry, the make-up is vast and wide - women, men, different races, different religions, different sexual orientations - they are all working together already to help produce solutions to some of society's biggest problems. If you need an example of where diversity is already delivering great value and positivity, you just need to look at the IT industry."
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