EMEA president, Insight
Name: Emma de Sousa
Role: EMEA president of global, NASDAQ)-listed reseller and solution provider Insight
Context: Having previously run Insight's UK arm, de Sousa was appointed to run the US-giant's $1.6bn-revenue European empire on 1 January 2021. She won the CRN Industry Achievement award in 2018.
Do you think the IT industry's gender diversity deficit - and diversity deficit more widely - warrants highlighting?
I think for a lot of industries, not just IT, 2020 brought into sharp focus the work that still needs to be done to increase opportunity when it comes to diversity. It shouldn't need saying, but regardless of circumstance, background or identity, everyone should have the same access to work and opportunities to meet their full potential. I have always been of the mind that skill and expertise is what's important.
I live by the mantra: Our success starts with our people. At Insight, we're committed to a culture of inclusion and belonging, which celebrates diversity and provides opportunity for all. I am a strong believer that identifying and nurturing talent, has a key part to play in tackling this issue too. At Insight, it's what will help us ensure our people reach their full potential - background, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other differences shouldn't ever be an impediment to success. Our differences are what unite us.
As an equal opportunities employer, we are committed to recruiting diverse talent across the board. Our association with the Tech Talent Charter, the work undertaken by our Diversity and Inclusion group and our recent win from Great Place to Work: 2020 UK's Best Workplace™ for Women, further underpins this.
Our STEM programme encourages teammates to engage with education providers to showcase the opportunities available to school children, removing perceived barriers to entry and laying the groundwork to increase diverse representation.
Industries must continue to look at how roles are being promoted - from starting in schools as we do, right up to talent acquisition. Diversity of talent is essential in creating a competitive edge.
What are the key business benefits of having a diverse workforce?
First and foremost, talent diversity undoubtedly gives businesses a competitive edge. Why? Because with diversity comes fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking, which in turn encourages the creativity which will help better serve clients. Diversity also helps us better understand the diverse backgrounds, influences and pressures on our clients. Better understanding equals better business.
A culture of inclusiveness is also a major factor. If people feel that they belong, they will be empowered to share their opinions. Similarly, when an employer embraces and respects diversity, everybody in the organisation will feel valued - creating an environment in which morale is high and everybody is much more likely to be productive. And finally, there's the matter of having a wider talent pool available. If you want to select from the top talent and build a straight-A team around you, a reputation as an equal-opportunities employer, with an award-winning culture is a huge asset.
What's your top tip for tech providers that are serious about tackling their gender or diversity deficit?
It's got to be driven by the top. An organisation's leaders have to be bold role models and lead from the front. If leadership doesn't do this, then you aren't going to successfully create a diverse and inclusive environment. Also, think about demonstrating your commitment; for instance, by signing up to industry initiatives and investing in graduate schemes. For example, at Insight we've become part of the Tech Talent Charter; created a Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging group to drive education and awareness across the business; and introduced Insight Edge, a graduate scheme that provides opportunities for future talent so they can gain commercial awareness and understand our passion for our business.
Second, meet new employees' expectations. Flexible working options, comprehensive learning and development tools, and competitive benefits packages are all key considerations for today's people considering job roles. COVID-19 has made this even more apparent, and businesses have to keep pace with changing expectations.
Finally, when it comes to recruiting, make sure employment panels are as diverse as possible. This will encourage applicants, and give them the confidence to excel.
How has Covid impacted the diversity debate?
Covid-19 has certainly highlighted inequalities across our society. The temporary closure of schools, for example, revealed the socio-economic divide in education, while many young people and minorities have been the hardest-hit by lockdown.
There will be a lot of challenges in the wake of the pandemic, but also opportunities. For example, the increase in working from home will open up prospects people might have never considered. With location less of a barrier, businesses will see more diverse applicants and a wider talent pool.
Looking towards the next generation, at Insight our STEM programme has kept showcasing the opportunities available to school children, preparing the groundwork for future diversity and industry representation, and removing perceived barriers to entry.