Frank Valdivieso, DC Chapter President for the IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) and chair of the IAMCP’s Americas Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee, has seen diversity and inclusion from two sides. Frank’s experience is both from the perspective of either being included or rejected based on the color of his skin, and from the standpoint of doing the right thing to include others.
By visual identification, Frank is a Black Hispanic, and thereby falls squarely into the category of “visual minority”. But that’s only if we’re categorizing people. And why are we?
What is D&I?
Said Frank, “Diversity focuses on things that divide us – the things that make us different. Inclusion is about bringing people together; it provides us with opportunities to be more inclusive in how we sell and support our products, and offer better service to our customers.”
Having had negative experiences, Frank has a deep understanding of the impact of D&I and has built a successful company that actively embraces the practice – both internally and externally.
As President & CEO of Gryphon Consulting, a Largo, MD based MSP providing IT support to companies with less than 250 employees, Frank believes that D&I is a top-down initiative, and while Gryphon is a small company from an employee statistic standpoint, 50% of Gryphon’s employees are minorities. Plus, Gryphon’s customer-base is almost entirely comprised of women entrepreneurs, and the company’s suppliers are all either women- or minority-owned.
Making a Difference
D&I is not the only problem for today’s technology businesses; the lack of skilled talent presents an enormous hiring challenge.
Recognizing this issue through experience, Gryphon Consulting became one of the first supporting clients of the recently-established training program, Franklin Apprenticeships, a Maryland-based help-desk level apprenticeship course.
The progressive program offers hands-on skills-training to those for whom a 4-year college degree might not be an option, through a combination of in-class instruction and internship placements, and predominantly serves at-risk youth, and those who want to make a career change.
“This program has been very beneficial for Gryphon. Previously, post-hire, we found that a candidate’s resume did not necessarily match their skill-set. Through Franklin Apprenticeships, we are able to hire employees with the assurance that they have received adequate training and experience. Plus, we know that we are supporting an initiative that assists an underserved community,” said Frank.
In addition to embracing progressive hiring practices, Frank Valdivieso is also a member of Voices for Innovation (VFI), a technology policy advocacy group. Sponsored by Microsoft, the organization is comprised of technology professionals who meet to discuss and advocate for issues that impact the IT industry, and support IT job growth.
For Frank Valdivieso, programs like the ones in which he is involved provide him with a way to give back to his community and drive polices and practices that improve people’s lives and strengthen organizational culture for the greater success of all.
“D&I is all about learning – understanding what we can do better. The IAMCP creates a safe environment through the individual chapters to explore these topics. We can leverage this platform to educate our members so that they can go back to their organizations and champion D&I within their companies, leading to greater success for everyone – we all need the same chance to compete.” – Frank Valdivieso
So, what came first: Diversity or Inclusion?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter. An organization can have diversity, but no inclusion. Or, it can have inclusion, without diversity. But when the company’s strategy is to make the two symbiotic, each works best when the other is in play, and can attract and retain great talent. What does your D&I playbook look like?
For more information on Gryphon Consulting visit http://www.gryphon-consulting.com/