Lenovo has been shining a spotlight on the inspirational women within its ranks.
The vendor has long been a supporter of D&I drives to move the dial on representation of women and diverse voices within the industry.
At the recent CRN Women and Diversity in Channel Awards, Lenovo had no fewer than eight finalists shortlisted in nine categories from Women of the Year, Manager of the Year, Rising Star of the year to Diversity Champion of the Year.
And in fact, the flagship category of Woman of the Year 2022 was one by Lenovo's Larisa Lucaciu.
In explaining why recognition of progress and achievement is so valuable, Lucaciu said she felt she had been awarded "the best award that any professional woman in the #ITChannel industry could ever wish for."
"It goes without saying that I am humbled, honoured, excited and surprised to be winning this award. This recognition, represents an amazing validation for all the work that my team, my colleagues, our partners and that Lenovo has been investing in and I am so privileged to being able to be a part of such a successful business."
"I want to give my special thanks go to my support network and to the management team, that has offered me ongoing support, challenges me and always push to deliver the best."
A second winner from the night was Kate Steele for Sales Person of the Year 2022.
"To say I was shocked is an understatement, but I'm also pretty proud of myself too," she said of her achievement.
"Thanks to everyone who helped me get here especially the best HPC Team made up of the amazing
Allyship and drawing support from wider networks
Since we first launched the Women in Channel campaign in 2018, one of the most visible ways the dial as moved on this issue in the channel is that far more men are involved in championing it.
The top quartile of leadership in the UK tech sector - like many industries - is still male-dominated.
And this is why it is so key to draw support from wider networks and ensure that diversity and representation must not be allowed to be considered as solely female or ethnic minority concerns.
Last month, Lenovo and Microsoft today held a joint Diversity in Tech Day (pictured) to build on the momentum of Lenovo's Women an Diversity in Channel success.
Lenovo's UK boss Neil Sawyer spoke of the importance of supportive, positive work culture, and noted that the event was geared towards "recognising the game changing and inspirational contribution that a diverse and inclusive workforce makes to our industry."
So what is the ‘new normal' for women in the channel?
Much progress has been made in helping to reframe the issue of diversity and inclusion as far more than a ‘box-ticking' exercise or a nice-to-do ESG factor.
And recent CRN research suggests that the UK channel has collectively made some promising progress over the last five years. It has reduced its mean pay gap by almost two per cent since pay gap reporting was introduced in 2018.
However, in that time, the average female staff ratio in the channel has only risen from 27.6 per cent to 29.1 per cent.
It's important to not be disheartened and see that there has been progress. However, there's no doubt that there's still a long way to go.
And indeed, gender is just one of many ways that diversity expresses itself.
In order to become a truly diverse industry, the IT channel must embrace diversity as a whole and be an attractive and inclusive place for everyone regardless of their race, gender, cultural background, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
One of the ways Lenovo is committing to drive further progress is to make public commitments to enhancing diversity & inclusion.
Last month Lenovo signed, The Microsoft Partner Pledge: a commitment to put Diversity and Inclusion as core tenets of the business.
And earlier in the year, Lenovo EMEA also announced a new partnership with everywoman, an organisation committed to the advancement of women in business.
Everywoman notes that women can often still disproportionately need more flexibility from their employers to account for what Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg has previously called "the double-double shift" women work at home and in the workplace.
And Lenovo continues to work on how to make tech accessible to all.
What more can be done to encourage partners, and the role of hybrid working?
Gender diversity is important but representation is also expressed via lived experiences of ethnicity, sexuality, culture, background and geographical diversity.
There also remain unhelpful stereotypes about who is 'a good fit' for a role in a tech career.
Lenovo is investing in young people and introducing ways for colleges and universities to bridge the divide to offer work experiences in the tech sector in a variety of roles.
It's important that young people are informed early enough that there is a wide gamut of roles and position in our sector for them.
As well as engaging with schools and universities, great work is being done by many partners on setting up grad schemes and internships, as well as developing apprenticeships to build up a more representative cohort for the channel.
In terms of enticing good people into channel companies, flexible working remains key.
Expectations, which crystallised during the pandemic around hybrid working, mean that those firms who do not offer flexible working may struggle to recruit or retain talent.
The work from home aspect of hybrid working is doing much to make businesses more appealing to parents returning to work.
There are also now more companies than ever considering equity around paternity leave, or additional support for single or dual working-parent families.
Computacenter, Softcat, CCS Media and Insight are examples of resellers doing this.
And note, hybrid working also includes investing in offices where people can come in to meet, share ideas, be inspired and learn from their peers.
Collaboration and hybrid meeting capabilities in the office, on the move and in the home, has certainly allowed us to embrace the skills, inputs and capabilities of a wider and much more representative group of talented people - regardless of location, personal obligation or distance from the office.
In the end, having diverse, equitable and inclusive organisations will ultimately mean the UK channel better reflects the very customers it serves.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Lenovo.