Anita Wosket

Doug Woodburn
clock • 9 min read
Anita Wosket

Anita Wosket

Senior sales manager, Westcoast

What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?

I think it's people admitting it's still an issue! There are still a lot of people who don't think it is or on the other side say that they don't see a man or woman, care about their religion or sexuality; they are just a person. This also isn't helping.  For there to be real change there needs to be real focus, not dismissal which is effectively what a lot of people are doing, just without realising it. The more we talk about it, the more it prompts people to act. It doesn't always have to be about grand gestures; if everyone changed just one thing, I am sure we will be in a very different place in a few years.

What are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?

Attracting a diverse workforce when you don't have one is difficult. A wise person once told me: "You can't be what you can't see!" If you can't see yourself being successful in a business by seeing other people like you doing just that then you are less likely to want to join that business, making it even harder for those who are starting out on the journey.  If you look at companies that are doing well, they have a dedicated team or person who is responsible for driving diversity in the business. With anything you do, focus drives results. I think a lot of businesses could start there, so they can understand exactly where they are currently as a business and what they need to do to create a diverse workplace. Some things, which I believe do help, are offering flexible or remote working, as this will most definitely open the talent pool.  We also need to stop looking for the finished article when recruiting or things will never improve as we will continue to fight for the same pool of people. How else can we get more people into the industry if we won't recruit anyone who isn't currently in it? Offer work experience or apprenticeships to educate and target the younger generation helping to create diversity for now and the future.

How much progress do you believe the industry has made in diversity since you started working in IT?

It has come quite a way since I joined the industry back in 2001. I am not always the only female in the room anymore but there is still so much to be done, more so in particular roles like sales, technical and senior roles.  By celebrating diversity through things like the Women in Channel Awards, Pride Month, celebrating multiple religious holidays and alike we are allowing people to celebrate their differences and pulling people together in a positive way.  If I am honest, I had hoped we would be much further forward than we are. I am not sure that a head of diversity and inclusion person was even a thing back then and if it was, I had never heard of it. The large organisations are leading the way in focussing on change with real results but there is so much more that can be done. The challenge is people still don't see it as an issue, particularly if they are doing well as a business. Perhaps don't see the need to change as they are successful as they are!

What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?

They need to evaluate who is in the room! I am sure in a lot of cases you will find that the room is full of the same people and that scares me. It will take time to bridge the gap so there needs to be creative ways to get a diverse voice into those senior discussions.  If you were working on a company-wide project, you would have people present from various business areas to ensure you get the full picture and everyone is catered for. Apply the same thought process to business decisions, create a steering group of individuals to get a more diverse voice into those discussions. They don't need to currently be senior people within the business, they just need to represent a voice that isn't currently there.  Work harder on recruitment to attract a good mix of people into all roles. Work with education establishments to educate and attract younger generations so we are not in the same place five years down the line. Celebrate our differences, not just internally but externally. What you do could work for someone else who just doesn't know where to start. 

How did you first get into the IT industry?

I first got into the IT industry back in 2001 as a returns administrator for Data Select. It wasn't a conscious decision. I had moved out of London but continued to work there and just got sick of commuting for a couple of hours every day. This role came up that was 15 minutes from where I lived so I applied. I knew nothing about what they did as a business (Handset Disti) but back then I didn't feel I had to tick every box to be successful so just went for it. I worked there for a little over three years, during which time I was promoted to returns supervisor which is where my leadership journey started.  I moved out of the industry for a couple of years to try something different and work in different roles but came back in 2006.  I love working in the IT industry and particularly the channel. I often refer to it as a family! After I had taken four years out to look after my family, I came back and it was all so familiar, like I had never been gone! 

What have been some of your experiences (both good and bad) with how the IT industry has historically approached diversity?

When I started out, it wasn't something anyone really talked about or saw as a problem. I often walked into a room full of white middle-aged men which, being a young female, was really intimidating but at the time I knew no different.  I have loads of comments over the years asking who I had slept with to get that promotion, challenged on the way I dress and look. I've been talked down to, told I was just a pretty face with no substance. Believe me, I've heard it all and I am confident I am not alone. Me being me, I used that negativity to fuel my ambition to succeed and prove them wrong.  In the main, I have been fortunate to work alongside some truly amazing an inspiring people (men and women), some of which I have called out below.  I am confident that real change is coming, there will be a big shift, we are on that journey. I think people are so much more aware of it and see the benefits. It will be a better place for my daughters to grow up in, I am sure.

Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life, and how have they helped you to succeed?

Oh wow, there are so many! I have been lucky to know (or make myself known!) to so many amazing influential people but the below are from what I class as real defining points in my career. Mark Geraghty & Rob Saffman - Olive They were the first people who really pushed me to be exceptional and never let me settle or give up. What we managed to achieve in those early days was outstanding, they inspired me to continually do better but to also make sure I bring people on that journey with me. There is plenty of room at the top!  Warren Prior - Chess He was a real sponsor for me. Even in the short time I didn't report into him directly, he still pushed and guided me. He always put me forward to take on more and never had any doubt that I would be successful, even when I doubted myself. Kate Wood - Pockets Consultancy She has been a real inspiration to many people, not just me. She has always been there to show others what can be done, she always lifts people up with her, she sets an example and dedicates so much of her time to make real changes within our industry. Kate took me to a WIT Network event as a guest when she was speaking and from there, I ended up working with her as a UK board member, where I got to work alongside so many amazing men and women to drive the change we all want to see. Phil Bell - Westcoast I joined Westcoast in March 2020. You can see where this is going… At a time when there was so much uncertainty, he really drove positivity into not just his team, but the business. Having only just joined the business, you can imagine how I was feeling. He made a real effort to make me feel like a valued member of the team and critical to the business success, which I will not forget. Over the last 2.5 years he has continued to work alongside me and my career ambitions, always giving me more opportunities to grow. I feel like we have a developed a great respect and appreciation for each other. We don't always agree and will often challenge each other's ideas, which is exactly what you want when working with someone. It's how you grow. Hayley Roberts - Distology  It's quite fitting that she won both Woman and Role Model of the Year at the CRN WIC 2021 Awards. She has been my mentor this year and I can't thank her enough for the support and guidance she has given me to date. I feel like I have known her for years as she seems to really understand me as a person, my drivers, where I need to develop, tells me when I am doing well and just dedicates real time to help me succeed without any real benefit to her directly. She is a true role model who doesn't just have an opinion on what we need to do but does what we need to do. A real inspiration.

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