FOR TECH DATA’S Rich Hume (pictured), signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge, created four years ago by nonprofit CEO Action, was kind of a no-brainer. The company he now leads had been pursuing those goals since well before his arrival.
“Diversity and inclusion have been part of Tech Data’s culture for a very long time,” Hume says.
That commitment dates back to when Hume’s predecessor, Bob Dutkowski, was running the company. Both men once worked together at IBM, an early trailblazer in tech industry diversity, and had seen the benefits a diverse staff produces firsthand. Dutkowski brought those lessons with him when he joined Tech Data and built them into the company at every level. When he and Hume acquired Avnet’s Technology Solutions Group in 2016, they saw an opportunity to double down on those efforts.
“We had two big companies coming together,” Hume recalls. “We needed to define the culture for the future and our values for the future.”
Employees across the company participated in that process from the beginning. “Diversity was front of mind when they were talking about what they wanted our company to stand for,” Hume says.
Drawing on that input as well as guidance from experts at consultancy PwC, Hume and his team crafted a DEI program built around five affinity-based employee business resource groups (BRGs), regional DEI councils, and a series of departmental Inclusion Action Teams. Much of their activity falls within two categories: workforce and workplace.
Workforce initiatives require managers to consider a diverse range of candidates when filling positions and to get annual training in areas like unconscious bias. Adding more women and people of color to Tech Data’s senior leadership is a related priority.
“We had done a very good job through what we call the director level, which is the first level of executive,” Hume says, but less good at the vice president tier and above. “We’re already seeing some pretty good improvement,” Hume reports.
Workplace measures seek to ensure everyone in the company feels valued and empowered to bring their full selves to the job. “We’re building a culture where you can be who you are, explore your potential, and have a strong feeling of knowing that you belong,” Hume explains.
The return on Tech Data’s DEI investments has been tangible. Creating a diverse workforce, for one, has sharpened the company’s thinking. “We absolutely know that we get to the best set of decisions by having a diverse point of view on any topic,” Hume says. Maintaining an inclusive workplace, meanwhile, has given the company an edge in employee retention and satisfaction.