Kristin Malek moderates a DEI panel including Marquis Miller, Tad Rzonca, Ari Kessler and Farad Ali at the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT.

Jun 22 2022

CDW Executive SummIT: How DEI and ESG Initiatives Drive Business Goals

Diversity and social responsibility are good for the community and can impact an organization’s bottom line.

In recent years, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives have taken hold in businesses in nearly every industry. More than just a corporate trend, these efforts make business sense.

Socially responsible policies and programs can have a positive impact on both businesses and their communities. For example, DEI leaders point to their efforts as a means of addressing the talent shortage, and social and environmental initiatives can help diversify an organization’s supply chain.

At the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT, CDW’s Taylor Amerman, senior manager of global social impact; Kojo Mensah-Bonsu, global director of diversity, equity and inclusion; and Kristin Malek, global director of business diversity, took the stage to share why the company is investing in organizations and businesses that align with its socially responsible goals. 

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Leveraging Tech Expertise for Social Impact

Amerman explained that CDW is focused on addressing digital equity, beginning with providing access to the technology itself — hardware, software and connectivity. “It's one thing to have the technology, but you also need to be able to use it. And so we focus on supporting education,” she said.

She offered three examples of how the company’s DEI initiatives have a positive impact. “The first is that it reinforces a culture of caring, giving and serving,” she explained. Such efforts also allow the company to make a positive and equitable impact in communities, and create meaningful opportunities for employee engagement and development.

“In conclusion,” she said, “social impact betters our communities, it empowers our people, and it enhances our business.”

Mensah-Bonsu spoke about the ways DEI efforts can benefit businesses and communities alike. He highlighted CDW’s Legacy Excellence Program, which partners with historically black colleges and universities to build a more equitable and diverse workforce at CDW. “We benefit from this. We are getting talent that we normally wouldn't get because we've created this mechanism to enable really good, talented, high-quality candidates into our organization.”

“You can actively participate and engage in dialogue with people who look like they don't share the same type of background as you do. And this will enable you to be a more consistent leader,” he added. “It isn't about you becoming a freedom fighter. This is you just understanding that maybe we all have privilege in this world, and how we extend that privilege, how we leverage that really speaks to who we are as an organization and society.”

READ MORE: Learn how diversity can have a positive impact on business outcomes.

Business Diversity Has Become Imperative

Malek moderated a panel on business diversity that included Ari Kessler, founder and COO of My Battery Recyclers; Farad Ali, president and CEO of Asociar; Marquis Miller, chief diversity officer for the city of Chicago; and Tad Rzonca, president and co-founder of V3Gate.

She began by acknowledging the changing expectations society has for companies. Consumers have become increasingly aware of social issues and demand the same from business leaders. “Through sustained actions, we are capable of making meaningful differences in society. While building trust, expectations have changed. What we do know is that there is overwhelming pressure around ESG and DEI, business diversity and supplier diversity.”

Miller explained that he works with Chicago’s chief small business officer to increase the amount of business the city does “with diverse suppliers across all race, ethnicity and gender categories, but also to use the city's bully pulpit, if you will, to encourage corporate Chicago to fulfill its commitment to do more business with communities that have historically not done a level of business that would allow them to build sustainability and to participate in what we call the inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility movement.”

Ali, owner of the largest black-owned business in Texas, highlighted the impact of his company’s work with local nonprofits such as Planet Mogul, an organization that focuses on teaching kids entrepreneurial skills. “When you start talking about the trickle-down effect of doing business with diverse companies, it's not just measured in revenue, but also in economic impact.”

Kojo Mensah-Bonsu
We are getting talent that we normally wouldn't get because we've created this mechanism to enable really good, talented, high-quality candidates into our organization.”

Kojo Mensah-Bonsu Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, CDW

Tech Businesses Embrace Environmental and Social Responsibility

Kessler spoke about the positive environmental impact his company is making. “We’re an environmentally certified e-waste and battery recycling company. We provide full lifecycle solutions for the iPad space, where we're supplying new equipment, delivering it on time and then removing the obsolete equipment. But when we remove the obsolete equipment, we try to find value to go back to the customer.”

He explained that while his organization delivers value to its customers through credits to purchase new equipment, it’s also making a difference in the supply chain. With several customers, the company harvests parts from outdated hardware and sells it on a secondary market, thereby alleviating some supply chain woes.

In addition, the company leverages its customer relationships to enable donations of used equipment to nonprofit organizations and marginalized communities. These efforts benefit not only the community but the business as well. Kessler said the company’s initiatives have a “business impact and customer impact. It drives results, it brings revenue, and it's measurable.”

This presentation was the first of three planned for this year’s CDW Executive SummIT Series. Amerman, Mensah-Bonsu and Malek will return for the second event, which is scheduled for August and will focus on managing the evolving workforce. And they’ll be back again in October for a third event, which will provide insights on how to make future IT a reality.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles and videos from the event, follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and participate in the official event conversation on Twitter at #JoinCDW.

Photography by Joe Kuehne

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