Connect with us

Innovate

Diversity awareness bus makes pit stop at Tech Data

Margie Manning

Published

on

Ameerah Mukayed, diversity and inclusion specialist at Tech Data, with Cal Jackson, director of diversity and inclusion.

Tech Data employees got a chance to widen their perspectives about diversity and inclusion Tuesday, during an all-day visit by the Check Your Blind Spots tour bus.

The tour bus uses technology to let people explore their unconscious biases and then change their behavior, said Ryan Mosher, tour manager.

Ryan Mosher, Check Your Blind Spots tour manager

It promotes the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, signed by Tech Data CEO Rich Hume in June. According to  a news release, it’s the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace, and outlines a specific set of actions the undersigned companies will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all people are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion.

“We all know that we have biases but at times it is unconscious,” said Cal Jackson, director of diversity and inclusion at Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD), a Clearwater-based IT distributor. Tech Data is the largest company in Tampa-St. Pete, and a major employer with about 2,000 local workers. “When we talk about blind spots in the workplace, what are the things that we’re not so aware of —  how we show up, how we communicate and how we interact with various dimensions of diversity —  which can be improved if we are more aware of the differences in how we are approaching people. It improves performance, it improves team dynamics and of course it’s going to build, for us, a bigger environment of inclusion.”

The bus includes several tech-enabled exercises to broaden perspectives.

In Wake-Up Call, participants can hear messages about unconscious biases in housing, with recreated conversations between landlords and tenants and realtors and homebuyers.

Face Yourself, Face Reality starts with the participant looking into a mirror; as their own reflection fades, another person is displayed, telling the story of what they go through on a day-to-day basis. A young black man urges the viewer not to say, “I don’t see color” because that negates his lived experiences. A transgender woman asks the viewer not to ignore her, but to talk to her, even if the conversation is awkward.

The most popular exercise is Perspective Matters, a virtual reality, 360-degree video that allows the viewer to go through a scenario from the perspective of the individual facing unconscious bias. A store clerk questions why a young Latinx woman wants to buy an expensive purse in one video. In another, a white woman calls the police when she sees two young black men she does not know at a neighbor’s home.

More than 43,000 people have signed the pledge.

“Some people start crying when they see these scenarios that we’ve heard about, but we haven’t faced,” Mosher said. “It puts you in there and lets you live in their shoes.”

People who go through the bus can sign a pledge, making a personal commitment to be more diverse and inclusive in their personal lives.

The bus tour is part of Tech Data’s cultural competence education curriculum, Jackson said. He went through the bus tour at a diversity and inclusion conference in Minneapolis and knew it would benefit Tech Data workers.

“Although I do this work, I really had to catch myself. The biggest thing  that hit me is that  it shows examples of people who are under-represented or minimalized or discounted. That also moves you too, the realization that this is still happening at work,” Jackson said.

The goal is for the bus to make 100 stops. Tech Data was No. 90 on the tour, Mosher said.

Tech Data was one of two stops in the Tampa-St. Pete area for the Check Your Blind Spots bus. It stopped at PwC in Tampa on Monday. Tim Ryan, chairman and senior partner at PwC, launched CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion in 2017.

About 700 CEOs have signed the pledge, including Paul Reilly at Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) in St. Petersburg and Ken Burdick at WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG) in Tampa.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us: spark@stpetecatalyst.com

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.