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Being a Woman of Color in Tech — Why Representation Matters

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Telesystem's Mayka Rosales-Peterson

Mayka Rosales-Peterson

For many years, women of color have fought for a seat at the table in their respective industries. Although many have broken barriers and pushed limitations, being the only woman of color (WOC) in the room is still the norm in tech. The challenges for women of color in this space have made it a struggle to level the playing field in this industry.

There’s no secret that in the channel, diversity is an issue, especially concerning the representation of women of color. There aren’t many – if any – leaders in this space who are women minorities. Data shows that Black women hold 3%, Latinas hold 1% and Native American women hold just .03% of technology jobs, and even fewer are in leadership positions. When we look at these numbers, it should be extremely alarming to businesses. That’s because diversity breeds innovation, which in turn makes the company profitable against its competition.

Being the only WOC in the room is the norm in the channel. As an Afro-Panamanian, millennial and a woman in the channel, I subconsciously know that in any meeting, event or video call, there’s a very high possibility that I will be the only one who looks like me in the room. If you are reading this article and are not a WOC, think about that. Imagine that you are always the only white person in every meeting, event or video call, and when you look at leaders in roles you wish to be in, no one looks like you or can relate to you or your experiences. This is a constant barrier WOC face. It’s hard.

The lack of representation in the tech industry can leave WOC without role models, mentors or support systems to help them grow. As a result, many leave tech and take their talents to other industries where representation is shown.

Representation Matters in Your Organization

According to McKinsey & Company, organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15%. Those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35%. Diversity is the new way of life and not just a checkbox to mark as completed in human resources. Higher numbers of workplace diversity and women of color can help organizations be better at innovation and offer different perspectives. This can help to solve complex issues and provide fresh and new outlooks.

Channel Partners is dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the channel and the technology community as a whole. Thus, we are featuring news articles, first-person accounts and strategies around topics of race, diversity and inclusion to spur discussion of these important subjects. Visit our webpage dedicated to the topic.

Tech leaders, listen up. You want to help? Here’s how. Tech executives should be very intentional with their strategy for creating visibility for women of color who are in their companies, both internally and externally. (For example, speaking engagements, meetings, etc.) That way, you are making room for them to be seen and heard — that alone can break so many barriers.

Give women of color a seat at the table. If your company doesn’t have a woman of color in leadership, add one. It is proven that having diversity increases better decision making and enhances the organization’s reputation.

There’s a long road to go in the journey for women in tech. But I’m hopeful that barrier will be broken, and progress will continue to be made!

Mayka Rosales-Peterson is the channel marketing coordinator for Telesystem. She also is a committee member for the Alliance of Channel Women and the Channel Partners/Channel Futures Allies of the Channel Council.

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