Join us for an insightful discussion on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with experts and thought leaders.
#diversity #inclusion #technology

We last spoke about diversity in 2020 when the show was called Podnutz Pro. In today's show, we're taking a step back to ask the question, where are we now? Back then, there was a lot of talk from companies that diversity in tech was important. Has there been any change? Dave Sobel shares his findings from the latest diversity report conducted by MSP Radio. 

Diversity Report Q4 2022:

With all the reports and statistics, does that mean talking about diversity is easy? Not really. However, Nicole Debourg-Kahn describes how Syncro took on the challenge and created the most diverse leadership team that I have come across in our industry. It started with something called a "hackathon" where Syncro chose to make a space that focused on awareness training and racial healing. 

=== Nicole DeBourg-Kahn

Nicole DeBourg-Kahn is Syncro’s Chief People Officer, where she’s focused on providing the best environment in which team members can grow and feel true fulfillment. She is an accomplished HR professional and has established herself as a thought leader and trusted advisor. 

Syncro is an integrated business platform for running a profitable managed services provider (MSP). It offers PSA, RMM, and remote access in one affordable package. 


=== Dave Sobel

Dave Sobel is the host of the Business of Tech podcast and owner of MSP Radio, a destination for technology news and insights in the IT Solution Provider community. Dave is a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with over 20 years of experience in the industry. 



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Marvin Bee: [00:00:00] Hello friends, Uncle Marv here with another episode of the IT Business podcast. Today we have a special podcast and we are going to dive into the important topic of diversity. For those of you that have been with me over the years, you'll know that back in 2020. I had a couple of podcast discussions.

There was some stuff going on at the time and people brought up comments to me about, Hey, I don't quite understand. Can you talk about that? And we did, and it is now coming up on almost three years, and I thought, well, we need to kind of find out where we are. So that is what we're going to be doing. Uh, we are going to bring you, not just today, but probably in a couple of other future shows, experts and panel lists, uh, from various backgrounds that will [00:01:00] share their perspective and experiences.

Today I have with me Nicole DeBourg Khan, the Chief People Officer at Synchro. She is an accomplished HR professional with more than 20 years of experience in various areas of technology, software, biotech, retail industries, and Nicole is focused on providing the best environment in which team members can grow and feel true fulfillment.

And she has established herself as a thought leader and trusted advisor. Nicole, welcome to the show. Thank you, Marvin. Happy to be here.

All right, and also Dave Sobel is a well-known personality in the technology and managed service industry. He is a fellow podcaster. Host of the Business of Tech podcast and owner of M S P Radio, which is the destination for technology, news, and insights.

Dave also brings more than 20 years of experience in the industry [00:02:00] and is almost unmatched in his passion for managed service providers. I call him friend and DJ. Dave. Dave, how are you?

Dave Sobel: Awesome, Marvin. Thanks for be nice to be back and chatting with you.

Marvin Bee: Well, thanks for coming on and thanks for, um, it's probably going to be a little touchy to say, but thanks for being the token on this show where, uh, we try to talk about this from all the token data

Dave Sobel: analyst, whatever do you

Marvin Bee: mean?

Yep, that would work because, uh, that I do not do, uh, so I mentioned earlier that I did these shows back in 2020 and I did them at the request of some friends who. We had a lot of talks in private, but we also knew that we needed to talk in public about this thing called diversity, especially in tech. It seems to be a bugaboo topic that people just don't want to talk about.

They think that it re, you know, should be out in the world away from us. [00:03:00] But listen, we are in the world just like everybody else. We. Issues with diversity. So, we need to talk about them. So that's what, uh, we'd like to do here today. But before we get started, let me give our listeners and watchers a little bit more background.

My bio just doesn't say enough. So, Nicole, uh, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and about Synchro? Sure.

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Happy to, uh, you're right, more than 20 years, um, in the HR space, um, and primarily in tech or tech related companies, but. You know, I've been around and publicly traded and private and private equity and venture.

So, um, it's been a fun, wild ride with lots of different environments and, um, teams that I've worked with and sizes. Um, but most fun is the ride that I'm on now at Synchro. Um, so for, uh, I'm sure a lot of your listeners know, um, you know, we are a combined RMM and PSA platform, um, servicing the M S P space.

[00:04:00] Um, and, uh, you know, we've been. Uh, a tried and true brand for quite a few years now, continually evolving and growing. Um, and so, you know, I'm happy to, to represent the team.

Marvin Bee: All right. And Dave, I mentioned you people know you from many different facets of the industry, but, uh, tell us what you've been doing for the last few years.

Dave Sobel: Uh, I've been at this too long, it seems like, you know, so I I'm like a lot of people. I'm an m I'm a former M S P, uh, and I spent about, you know, about a decade running my own M S P business. I always describe it as a moderately successful regional M S P, uh, because it was, uh, the kind of thing where I was very proud of what I built.

I had the opportunity to sell. It was a super involved community kind of guy for a long time, but rather than go around and start teaching people, In instantly as a consultant, I actually went and worked for a couple of vendors. Uh, I worked for level platforms for two years till we sold that to a V g. I worked for G F I, we became Logic.

Now we sold that of course, to SolarWinds for a big [00:05:00] pile of money. Uh, and I stayed there for three years through the I P O because I'd never taken a company public. So I wanted to learn the process, uh, and then. There in September of 2019, and the same sort of thing, people said, oh, you're going to go be a consultant.

And I said, actually, you know, what I want to take on is I want to do the data analysis that I always did, both as an M S P, as a comp trainer, HTG peer member, all that kind of stuff. And the data analysis I used to do on stage. And I'm going to actually put that together as a resource for our providers. And here I am, three and a half years later, doing the business of tech every single day it.

Top 10 Tech News podcast in the us, uh, and trying to deliver news and analysis, asking that question of why do we care for providers every single day? All right. And, uh, full disclosure, uh, I know both of these people from the past in terms of synchro. I have known synchro in the industry for quite some time.

they're actually a partner of the show, even though I don't use them, [00:06:00] so don't hold that against me. And I knew, knew Dave back in the SolarWinds. Days, actually, I think it was. I forget which one it was. GFI then SolarWinds, like literally the week I joined up for, for. Three or four names. And six logos as long as I was there.

Yeah. So, it's hard to say sometimes . Yeah, for a while. I've known one another for a while. Yep. Yep. So that's, uh, that is it. So without going too far back in history, I did mention that I started these shows in 2020 and back then we actually had to do a lot of explaining of what diversity is. And you know, the term has now changed and evolved.

It is now basically diversity, equity, and inclusion. And we have to talk about the full gamut because back then it was really just about the black and white and people not understanding that just because I sound white and listen to country music doesn't mean that I experience life in the same way that a lot of you.

I do listen to other music, [00:07:00] but that's what people get the kick out of the most. Um, but now we have to deal with all of the differences, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and it is becoming a very, a very nice challenge, I think, for businesses and industry. So, we're going to talk a little bit about that.

Now, I want to start with you, Dave, one, because you were a part of those original podcasts, and, and I thank you very much for doing. And I think you, I think that first year you actually started what we're going to talk about, you actually put together a, uh, a report that dove into. Diversity, and we'll talk about that a little bit more, but explain, first of all, what is this report, and correct me on how long you've been doing it.

Dave Sobel: Sure, sure. So, I'm a big data nerd, right? Like anybody know, listens to the show, knows that like, you know, the, the [00:08:00] catnip for me is some report or some data analysis or survey or some. Polling data. I love digging into financial data. It's like I'm trying, I like to be data driven, right? I like to make decisions around data.

Uh, you know, the, the summer of 2020, uh, was a time where a lot of us spent a lot of time thinking about this. And of course, the first thing I did was start saying, well, show me some data. Like I need to see some data. Uh, I want to understand this better. And what was interesting to me is, is that I couldn't get data.

To show me kind of the IT services, IT channel. I couldn't get a clear picture of the way those organizations looked from kind of a DEI perspective. Like I just couldn't get demographic data. It's, I can get, I could get tons of profitability data, I could get tons of performance data. I could get everybody's, you know, Lord, but I couldn't get it, get my head around any data around this, and I, I sort of said like, look.

I know, I can tell there's a problem here. I know there's a problem going on [00:09:00] here, but you know what I can't figure out is I can't figure out like how to measure this, how to see this over time. and that's what I wanted to do. And so I, so, so I said I, I was going to set out in, in the Septe in September of 2020, I set out and I said, I'm going to start tracking this.

Um, because for me it's, it's, there's two elements to it. Like I always start with the, it's the right thing to do, right? Like, I want really diverse workplaces and organizations because I think there is real power in different perspectives driving decision. But I also have data to tell me that those organizations outperform.

So, I'm going to quote one for you. McKinsey did some research studies around them. They found companies that have ethnically diverse executive teams are 36% more likely to achieve above average profitability. And with that number being 25% for executive teams with gender diversity. And then another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that diverse management teams have [00:10:00] 19% higher revenues.

Uh, this seems really like a good reason to do this, right? is exactly, if, if you're looking at the same, and it makes a lot of sense, right? If I can understand my customers better, if I can get better ideas, I will outperform. So I said, I'm going to start looking at our space and I'm going to start looking at it, and it's, and I'll tell you like my, my.

Technique to this is that we made a list of companies, the first report was with a hundred companies. Now we do over 300 companies and nearly 4,000 people. And we go to their websites and we just start counting people. Like we count people and I immediately say like, this isn't perfect, right? Like, this isn't, I'm not going to, because I'm looking and, and I may not necessarily know how somebody identifies.

We can classify this and in, if you get the data set large enough, we'll be within a margin error that makes some sense. And so in the LA my lady, we've been doing this quarterly now, uh, since I started doing this. And so the [00:11:00] Q4 2022 report dives into those 4,000 people. And I find that across the companies that we're looking at that represent a, a representative sample of channel, you know, vendors, distributors.

MSPs. I like all of those bits. We're finding that 89.92% of the, the people in leadership are white. 8.36% are non-white. 2.14% are black, and 20.99% are female. Uh, and if I go back, by the way, like this isn't getting better. In September, 2020 when we did it, it was 82%, uh, white and 1.83% black and 19.29% female.

And by the way, we've been talking about women in tech for, I don't know, a decade or more, right? And we've only hit 20%. And it's only gotten a half percent better in two years if I break this out, and I won't make people, like, I'll give you some examples, just pulling from the data without having to go to it.

But [00:12:00] like fortunate 1000 companies, when we split it out that way, they're a little bit better. They run about 84% white in the, and these are the leadership teams and about two and a quarter percent black for those, I'm, I'm going to say it. MSPs and what I call technology service providers, 91% black, 6% non-white, and nearly 3% black.

Those are the numbers and we, you know, we're all good engineer, data driven type people. Well, you, we always keep saying you can't manage what you don't measure. Well, I'm measuring it . I'm publishing the data every quarter to see what happens. Now you don't necessarily think that we're going to snap our fingers and it gets better.

But at this point, I've got two and a half years’ worth of data saying it's not really changing much. In fact, it's like you said, going backwards, right? It's kind of going backwards and I'm going to keep highlighting this other data that says, Hey guys, uh, I like making money. I'm in [00:13:00] the business of being more profitable.

If I can tell you, you can outperform by, you know, 36%, uh, would you like to do that? Seems like spending some time on this makes sense. So that's, that's why I've, I've spent some time on, on this is, but besides the fact that like, I, like, it's the right thing to do. Being inclusive to, and being good to people is the right thing to do.

But I'm also in the business of performing.

Marvin Bee: Right. . Now, Nicole, you've been around in HR doing a lot of this. Do you get to see a lot of this data in these reports as well?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: I've seen a ton of data. Um, I've not seen this sub-sector of data and it was shocking to me. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, I think a lot of industries have moved the needle.

Um, but I mean, as I looked at the report that Dave sent, I. I'm shocked. I mean, there's just, it's flat and in many cases it's declining. Um, and so, you know, it just begs the question of like, what's [00:14:00] happening? What, what, what's happening? Why is it going backwards now? Two years is not a ton of time to build a trend.

Yep, I get it. Yep. It, it takes a long time. A lot of companies though, did a lot of hiring. 12 months ago. Um, and so you should be seeing some of those numbers show up in the data you've got, you're not seeing it. So, you know, I

Dave Sobel: mean, and to be fair, these are leader, these are leadership teams, right? And so, yeah, so you, but, but at the same time, like if, if the leadership doesn't reflect the org, it's not going to go in the right direction.

Yeah. I'm, I'm with, I'm so with you, . Yeah. I,

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: 100%. I mean, The other thing that I noted in, in some of the data you shared was, you're right, those Fortune 1000 publicly traded companies do have higher diversity rates. It just kind of begs the question, are some of these programs that they've been doing, I know a lot of these big companies have been doing diversity programs for a long time.

Are they already that much further ahead because they've been doing them for the last decade? Um, and maybe more in earnest in the [00:15:00] last couple of years. But, you know, um, it's, it's hard to say, but it certainly might reflect that. Um, so, you know, I, I think Synchro’s a little different. Um, you know, I can boast we are, um, we're 66% female on the executive team and it's 50% diversity on the executive team.

And in fact, like overall leadership counting all of our line managers and directors. We're 46%, um, female. So we do have a long way to go on racial diversity in the management ranks, but, um, we're making strides, um, making very conscious strides. So, uh, but shocking data

Marvin Bee: really. Yeah. Now, synchro, of course, I'm going to say is an outlier in a sense, because what I've looked at other reports, including, uh, the latest m.

Diversity report. There's a Facebook, uh, diversity report that they put out along with the others that are out there. It doesn't seem that it's any different on those reports. The numbers Dave [00:16:00] match yours almost, you know, within a fraction of a degree or so. It's not much different. And as you said, you would think that.

Even if, even if two years isn't a huge sample size, there have been some significant events that people have tried to rally around that you would think there would be some change. But it's almost as if, you know, in the, in the phrase of the Buffalo Bills football team, no one circles the wagons. , like old white leadership, I guess is the only way I can

Dave Sobel: think of it.

Yeah. I, I, I mean there's a certain degree of that and, and you know, like I, I try and slice the dice the data to try and tell me if I, if I'm missing a, a trend, right? Which is why I say like, I'm going to slice it based on Fortune 1000. I'm going to slice it based on public versus private. I'm going to, I slice it based on distributor or vendor or you know, IT provider.

I slice it based on US based or rest of. Uh, like I'm, I'm trying to say like, is there something going on? And, and generally every [00:17:00] time I slice it, it goes, oh, no, it's not any different. . Like, those are not the things, because you might think like, you know, the, the, the IT provider might be more nimble or the, you know, the big company.

It's like, no, that's the, the data slices the same way Every s. Every single way. And I can say like, I do believe publicly traded and large help drive diversity, but that could just be an element of, you know, and I'm not going to get into the scale wise necessarily. Yeah. It could just be scale. Right? It, it's a very easy answer to say that.

And I never position myself saying like, I'm not saying like I am the expert in diversity nor HR things. I'm just going out and saying, I want to measure this because I think it's important that we spend time on it and we can't have the discussions unless we measure. .

Marvin Bee: That is true. Now Nicole, I know that Synchro has done a lot and is what I consider, hey, say hello to the doggy in the back.

Um, were there some things that you all used [00:18:00] to analyze data-wise, you know, before you started making some of your changes? .

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Yeah. I mean we, we did, um, we had not historically collected that data. It felt invasive to folks. Um, but really you can't change what you don't know. Um, and so it became really important for us to go out and start collecting that data because you can't move a, a needle if you don't know where you're starting from.

And so, we really did go back. And we, we've talked to all of our employees and we've collected that data so that we can start measuring it. And we look at it every single quarter. We're constantly talking about it. Um, so, you know, it, it was a matter of getting it first. Um, and asking for it is awkward, you know, like, should I ask for it?

I'm not really sure. Is that private? Do they have to tell me that? Right? Yeah. You gotta know where you are to know where you're headed.

Marvin Bee: Yep. It is tough. Now, I do want to take a quick moment here to let people know if you are watching live. And you're on any of the three [00:19:00] platforms. We do have a chat feature that is located somewhere on the screen, usually at the bottom or to the, to the right there.

If you have a question for any of your panelists today, go ahead and put that in there and I'll kind of keep an eye on it and watch and hopefully it's relevant and I'll bring it up and we can try to answer as we go. We'll have a nice little q and a section at the end as well. Uh, but, uh, just a, a reminder, everybody.

Go ahead and throw those, uh, questions and comments in the chat and we'll actually go ahead and address one early as opposed to waiting, uh, especially because it relates to, uh, Dave's report. Uh, does Dave have the metrics viewed based on CEO diversity? Well, I would stop there and let you answer that first.

Dave Sobel: It's, yeah, it's, it's a great, a great que the great question, and the answer is no, we didn't track it that way. Uh, one of the things that I was trying to be super careful about with the collection of the data was to anonymize. So one of the things that we we're, we will never release is we will never release the names, like the list of the, the [00:20:00] companies nor the names that we're tracking.

Because I think that's the point is not to shame anybody, but we're also not, we're, we're not trying to compare. Like to, like in terms of sort of like titles, we're not trying to compare organizations. The approach that I've used from a data collection perspective is to say if they are on the leadership team, they are a le and, and it is visible on the website.

They are then defined as a leader and we're just going to going to look at. All the leaders because I, I smile and go. One of the easiest ways is to make leadership bigger. , you could simply empower more people and make sure that the larger group is more diverse and by empowering them. That is a very simple way of addressing this.

So I haven't gotten down to the single sort of role-based analysis. It's another great way of looking at it. I will smile and then, and also say like, it feels right now, like we have such a larger structural problem that getting into, uh, you know, I, I don't have enough examples of high performing [00:21:00] organizations to be able to, to call out the whys of those yet. I look forward to having that problem.  

Marvin Bee: All right. And then I follow up to that. Do companies with non-white. Non-male CEOs have different diversity stats, and I think your kind of, you know, alluded to that earlier with the money part of it. But I have to assume that the diversity in terms of people follow.

Dave Sobel: I'm not breaking the data out that way, uh, to, you know, I'm, I'm just looking at the trends across types of orgs and I haven't dug into the specific ones. I think it is a great set of things that we could consider looking at, and I think those are, those are great questions to be asking.

My thought to this would be is, is these are the right questions for leaders to ask. Just figure out the ways that they want to work with their, you know, people, people groups, or HR groups in order to make those changes. This is the kind of question you want to ask about what changes that, because you know, if I, again, I'm super data [00:22:00] driven.

I looked at some McKinsey Leanin data. You know, you've gotta. Note that there are significant differences in the way that leaders are represented. 37% of women leaders said they've had a coworker get credit for their idea. Compared to 27% of men, uh, you know, women leaders are twice as likely to be mistaken for someone more junior.

Like there are just absolute structural problems to overcome that can be ma be changed by the kinds of leaders that, that are put into power.

Marvin Bee: I'll say this from personal experience, I've been on site. At a client with a non-white tech that works for me, and the client will start to ask us a question and then they'll direct it in the attention of the other person, assuming.

That they're the owner of the business. So, it's a little frustrating when that happens. So yeah, the mistaken identity, I guess, in terms of leadership [00:23:00] is, is, uh, is real. So,

Dave Sobel: and, and it can be just as, and you bring up a great thing, but it can be just so, so much subtle. Like, you know, my, my wife compares the difference between customer experiences that I get versus what she gets.

Yes. Like, just as a simple, you know, white man versus woman style, ex example is she loves you, you can get away with so much. Than anyone else for no reason other than the way that I look. Right. That, that, that is, uh, that is problematic, that is systematic and problematic. And you, if you are, if you're not always aware of that, that interaction by, by understanding others, you will not necessarily see it in your own teams.

Marvin Bee: Right. So, Dave, I was going to ask you this, but I think I'm going to point it towards Nicole and I'm going to use your phrase because in your show you always ask them. Why do we care? So instead of having you answer that question, I'd like to ask Nicole, can you give us an idea of why should we [00:24:00] care about all of this?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Well, I think Dave just brought up, um, uh, a, a couple of revenue and profitability reasons why we might care. Um, you know, the best ideas come from a diverse, um, room, you know, a diverse group of thought. Um, if everybody looks like me and talks like me and things like me, I'm going to have a very narrow focus for my.

Um, you know, I'm not going to take risks in areas that I might not have otherwise even known about. Um, you know, I'm just going to walk the path that I know. Um, and so that diversity and thought not only makes, um, ideas, um, innovation, you know, risk taking, it changes all of that. You can actually. The ride a little bit too.

You know, if you, you know, if you're a curious personality, you can actually enjoy the ride working with a diverse group of folks and not just the people that look like you. Save that for the weekends. Go and [00:25:00] picnic with the people that look like you do something different during the day. You know, like really, you know, get out of your zone.

Um, yourself, but, I think the data speaks for itself. Um, and I've, I've heard that in a lot of different flavors over and over again that, um, it really leads to profitability in the

Marvin Bee: long term. All right. And Dave, I'll ask you, even though we've talked about this over the years, but looking at it now versus when you started, is there, is there a difference in why we should care?

I mean,

Dave Sobel: I, it's so, I mean, it's one of those bits where it's like just investing here, you can, it, it is a path to outperformance and you know, and it's, and it's funny you put this into this stack rank of all the kinds of things when I talk about sort of 36% better performance, right? Compare that on what you might spend your other time on.

I, I always tease because it's like I lo I love watching the online groups where providers will debate one hardware vendor's profit [00:26:00] margins over another. And I laugh, you all are debating one to 2%. When I have another opportunity over here that can outperform by 36%, uh, I know what I like spending my time on its high value things.

uh, you know, I can grind out one or 2% on hardware or perhaps I would like to outperform by getting better ideas from my teams or having. More potential customers that I could talk to because I can understand their problems better, you know, engage with them in a way that relates to them more, you know, more and speak story language, or my organization looks like their organization.

Like these all seem like really good ways of finding new customers, engaging them, and outperforming. As I said, I'm always, I'm in the business of building organizations that outperform. I look for data that says where we can. And I spotlight this one. . Yeah.

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Hey, and why not? The, the, the ultimate reason? It feels like the right thing to do.

Just feels like the right thing to do.

Dave Sobel: Yeah. I mean, and there's, and there's [00:27:00] also, you're exactly right, Nicole. Like there's this element of like, doing the right thing feels really nice. Like yeah, it does. Being nice to people and engaging people and making them feel welcome. Like that's, I like doing that Right.

I like, I like doing these things. That's the reward too, don't you? We, most of us, you know, most businesses, particularly in this space, are small businesses, right? This is the, the joy of small businesses that you can be very personable. You can be very personalized. You can get those personal relationships.

Don't you want to be even better at doing that? Mm-hmm. , that just seems like. A fun way to live your life and profitable. Yep. Hey, these are all good things, ,

Marvin Bee: and it comes back around, right? And we talk about it all the time. Treat others at like you would like to be treated. So now here's the question that I want to ask, that obviously people like me can just throw up a podcast here and ask for people to discuss it.

That when it gets down to the nitty [00:28:00] gritty, In doing the work, getting into business, the hard questions always come up about how do you start these conversations. Nicole, you mentioned it earlier, just in simply asking, you know, what's the proper way to do it? But getting beyond that and actually taking the data that we've learned and trying to implement change, what are some things that we can do to start these hard conversations?


Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Um, number one, you, you need a champion. You just need one, just one champion. Somebody who believes it. Somebody who will listen to this and say, yep, I got it. It makes sense to me. You need just one champion. Um, but I would suggest that it not be a top-down approach, because if you are. Owners, founders, executives say, yes, we're doing it.

It's important to us. This is what we're doing. Yeah, you want their support, but you don't want them driving at all. Um, having like a bottoms up or grassroots approach to how your company [00:29:00] is going to tackle DEI types of, you know, decision making and projects and pathway forward is really, really important.

So, um, you know, for example, one thing that we did at Synch, Um, back in June of 2020 when our employees were wanting to have conversations about this and weren't sure, how do I have it, is it safe at work to have these conversations? I've been told that you can't talk about this stuff, you know, in, in companies is we had a hackathon, so we said, you know what?

Today, put your mouse down, we're going to have a hackathon and we're going to hack on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pick one, pick all three together, whatever you want. And we came up with some of the very best earliest ideas that we still continue to grow on today. And they're great because they came from our team members, you know, the people that are on the phone with our customers and tech support, our sales reps.

They came from all [00:30:00] over the organization and they were really simple things that started to slowly. Turn the needle and turn up the, the, the good noise and allow the conversations to start happening. And we still, I, I think we still do all of them and we still we're building on all of that stuff today.

So, you know, duh, two and a half years later. Still exists because it came from the bottom up now.

Dave Sobel: Hey Marv, can I ask a question there? Cuz Nicole, I'd love to hear, I'd love to hear your, your under your thought on balancing, uh, a bottoms up approach with sort of executive buy-in and also making sure that you're not kind of dumping this problem on the people that ne necessarily created it.

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Yeah. How, how, how do you, how do you balance that? Well, it has to resonate with your culture. and you know, who better to involve in, in brain tasking that than everyone there. Um, so [00:31:00] like I said, you have to have a champion. You have to have the buy-in and support from your executive team. You would've never, we would've never gotten to, um, you know, doing a full day of a hackathon had we not had executive support buy-in.

Um, but I, I've seen these fail for years and years at companies. I mean, by the way, I. At DEI, because I, I've been talking about this for 25 years in corporations where it was just this, it was just nonsense. And it was all like, oh, the lawyers tell us we have to do it, so we do something. And nobody ever brought into it.

And so, you know, the more people you can get involved in putting ideas on the table. The better. And, and so that, I mean, that's the balance. You have to have support at the top, but if you just push down the initiatives, they're not going to, it's not going to resonate. It's really not.

Marvin Bee: Good question. Well, similar to what Dave asked, I was going to ask, whose actual [00:32:00] idea was it to have the hackathon?

Was that from the bottom or did it fall down from the top?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Uh, it was, it did come out of an executive team meeting. Yeah, and I think at the time, this was Preme, no credit here, Preme, I think it was, um, one of our founders that said like, Hey, who knows better than our teams? Let's ask them what they want to do.

Marvin Bee: They're, they're wanting to talk about this. What can we do to give them a safe place to talk about it? All right. And. That was in 2020, so three years later. Is this something that is just now part of the culture, or do you still have to make a concerted effort to make it happen?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: It is very natural. We continue to make efforts to make it better and better and better.

So, you know, it's, it's baked into our values, it's baked into our policies, it's baked into our decision making. It's part of our day-to-day. You know, we have committees and [00:33:00] affinity groups and you know, we have structure around it. Um, but the innovation never stops. But now we have people who. Who take the ideas and they're empowered to run with them.

So, you know, it, it never ends. Um, because it's always changing in the outside world, meaning outside of our synchro electronic walls. So it has to be constantly evolving, but it's very natural for us. Now

Marvin Bee: let me ask a question. And this was not part of the prep, so I hope you can roll with me here because you.

Affect so many managed service providers and IT professionals, they may look to you for certain things outside of just, you know, the RMM, the PSA, that sort of stuff. Mm-hmm. , do you ever get engagement from the community on, Hey, can you help us with diversity in our business? ,

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: uh, I love that you just asking this question.[00:34:00]

Uh, we just had a hackathon, another one, um, in October. It wasn't all about DEI, but there was a team that really wanted to hack on DEI and specifically they wanted to hack on women in the M S P world and in the, you know, larger IT world and what it feels like for. To go to some of these conferences.

Mm-hmm. and events and get hit on, or, you know, get a pass made at them. And how can, so this team together of Synchro employees came up with ways that they could support other MSPs, in particular MSPs that. Or women owned, um, or have lots of women tax, and how can they give them like a voice and the tools and to navigate some of these, you know, uncomfortable situations that, you know, frankly, we're all in from time to time.

But when you're in a male dominated industry, Um, you're in a lot. Um, so you know that that's Brandy [00:35:00] new. Um, and you know, not, not in full-fledged yet, but that's a perfect example of where we can be partnering in a bigger way to support, um, the industry that we serve.

Marvin Bee: All right. Nice. Now, Dave, back to you.

The reports that you put out quarterly. Now, do you ever get, I don't want to say feedback because that's not the right word, but do you ever get asked, Hey, what? What do you do with their support? Can somebody take this and start the conversation or do you ever engage with companies about the report?

Dave Sobel: So, so sort of two parts to that question.

So, I, I, my policy is always, everything that I do is always release phrase out, available on the internet. You can find me in all the different various channels. And I always say like, everything I do is intended to be reused. Like I intend a business owner to take that and use that in their organization or pass it to somebody else and say, did you hear this?

Did you look at that? So that's the intention of it. Uh, I am not, I am not [00:36:00] a DEI. Right. So, I'm not positioning myself to do consulting or ex expertise. I'm literally just saying you're saying. Nobody else is measuring. So, I'm going to do it and I'm going to offer this resource to allow us to have conversations.

So in a way, like you picking it up and using it and in this kind of format, that is exactly what it is for. Uh, so I would, would, you know, I, I'd say like, that's why I'm releasing this, uh, you know, organizations like, like Nicole's at synchro, like could, should be able to say like, Hey, we're outperforming, and by the way, there's data to show this, not.

Larger, but in the industry and we now have it. And that's something, it could be a point of pride for organizations. Mm-hmm. , I mean, I'm releasing it into the world and saying, use this and find its, uh, find its home.

Marvin Bee: Okay, so let me check here and see our time and questions here. I do have a question that came up previous to the show.

So this isn't, uh, I'm not going to say it's staged, but I did get it because I was talking about it with the group, letting them know [00:37:00] I was doing this and the comments from them were, It almost seems as though there is a lack of candidates for these positions either available or being considered, because most of the time we're talking about, you know, management level, seed level.

We can see diversity in areas such as the call center or field techs or help desk, that sort of thing. But the visible employees, it doesn't seem to be a lot. Is there a shortage of candidates? For these upper-level positions.

Dave Sobel: Shall I take this? ? Go for it. Go for it. I've got some thoughts too, but I think let somebody actually an expert in HR take it , um,

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: in, in a lot of highly technical roles and higher leadership roles.

Yes. Um, is there a problem with it in HR? Marketing, no finance. [00:38:00] Yes. Software development. Yes. Um, but it just means you have to work a little bit harder. It doesn't mean they're not there. You have to work a little bit harder. And there's tons of organizations that support like. Latinas in tech, for example, you want to, you know, you, you have to know that you have to go and look and try harder, um, and not just let resumes pour in.

Because if you just go with what pours in, you're going to get the majority right? You're not going to find the minority. Um, and so you do have to work a little bit harder and know what you're up against. Um, but there are avenues to do. You gotta do a little research. They don't have the advertising dollars like Indeed does to post at the Super Bowl, you know, so you do have to work a little bit harder.

Um, and you know, for so long we were taught, um, race doesn't matter, gender doesn't matter. It's the best candidate for the job. And so, you get a resume in, and many times you [00:39:00] don't know the race, you don't know the gender, you don't know anything about that candidate. So there are, there are some blind components to it.

Um, but there's a lot of things you can do to source candidates and. Spine candidates. If, if diversity is something that you really feel strongly about you, there's, there's plenty of places to go look for

Dave Sobel: it. So I have, I have a really good story that from a an M MSP that I talked to periodically to check in, and it's a woman owned MSP and she actually said that she's, she and her organization took all of their technical job roles and rewrote them.

Mm-hmm. , uh, intentionally to change masculine language to feminine. And they found that they completely changed the pipeline of people they were seeing and immediately started getting applications from significantly more women applying for those roles. Uh, so I, I would push back a little bit to anybody who sort of says, oh, they're not out there.

It's like, well have, what have you done to actually [00:40:00] test for that? What have you actually done to dig into that? To be de. to make sure that you're finding them, because there's a lot in the process that is supposedly blind, but everything has a bias. Everything does. And that's a statement of fact, not a statement of judgment.

Understanding the bias is what's allows you to do things, to broaden the reach intentionally. We talk about this in marketing all the time, right? The idea of AB testing to see the results between two different things, but oftentimes in the world of people, we're not doing any testing like that, right. We write one job description.

We assume that's the perfect one for all time. Well, maybe you want to run. Two completely different ones and see what happens in terms of the types of content you get in. Maybe you're going to be in very intentional to say, we are going to work at this until our pipe looks different. And over time your pipe will look different [00:41:00] because you're going to start doing things to make sure.

Did we interview women for this role? Did we see anybody that wasn't a white guy? Right? Like did we, like, did we do those things? Because if the answer's no, perhaps there is something in the process that needs to be done to make a difference.

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Absolutely. I love that degendering things. Um, the language in your job description does, I, I can tell you, I can attest.

It does make a significant difference and so does having things on your website that make you inclusive, you know, before someone applies for a job. I hope that they visit the website and look around. What does this company do? Oh, let me look at their careers page. They got some culture stuff. Oh, this is a place where I could be comfortable.

You might attract people because they, they see it as a place where they would belong, where they would fit. So

Marvin Bee: lots you can do. Yep. And I'll attest to that, Nicole, because I wasn't in preparation for the show, but I remember going to your website a while back. . [00:42:00] Mm-hmm. seeing a black guy on the front page and I was like, oh, there you go.

Mm-hmm. , just that alone tells you a lot. And Dave, to your point, I'll be honest. So, 20 years ago when I was hiring techs, I fell into that same, that same uh, pit, where looking at a resume and seeing a name, certain names, Yeah, I think I know that person's nationality or you know, and there was a bias there.

I'm not going to, you know, I'll be honest and own it as a black guy, there were some biases around…

Dave Sobel: well, the, the definition of bias is your, is your own experiences being applied against something? It isn't necessarily bias. Alone isn't necessarily a negative thing. The ones that you understand, you actually manage and can use them.

You know, when you have areas of expertise or, or not, you can use them in a positive way. So, I want to make sure that we're analyzing this very data driven, right? Like we [00:43:00] want to understand those things so that we can improve the process and not immediately say like, oh, all bias is bad, some biases are good.

We actually want to bias the system in certain ways to get. Larger selection pool or to be able to make sure that the system is, is removed at certain biases, right? You want to understand all of that and be deliberate about it because it's the ones you don't know about that you can't

Marvin Bee: do anything about.

Right? And I say that just to let people know that the black eye in the room happens to me too, so, mm-hmm. . Um, so let me actually do this and. Make a hard turn in the show that, again, I didn't prepare you for . I love these, but I ask you all a lot of the questions and stuff like that. Do you all have questions for me?

And I'll give you some time to think about it and just let people know that, uh, this will stay up on all of the platforms that we're streaming to, uh, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the Facebook. So all of our information [00:44:00] will be there. So if you are watching or listening to this, And you want to comment or write in a question, go ahead and do so.

And again, if you have questions for me, I'd like to see those as well. So

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: I, I've got one for you. Yeah. Um, you know, knowing the data, having seen the statistics, how does that make you feel in

Marvin Bee: your industry? Ooh, good question. And sometimes I don't know. And in all honesty, I think that for a long time in my career I tried to not think about it because I didn't want to be seen as the black guy.

Mm-hmm. , I just wanted to be seen as the guy, and this has probably been a thing through my entire life. My dad was in the Air Force. So, I've always been. One of, you know, the only, or maybe one of two or [00:45:00] three black guys in the room. I think there was five in my graduating class of 404. So for me it was comfortable in a sense of I knew my surroundings.

So in the tech sector being one of the 6% blacks, Was just something normal for me, but in recent years, it's come to my attention that I should probably address it more and not allow for people to be comfortable in their prejudices or in their ways of thinking that are hindering other minorities. So that's, that's kind of why I've been doing these shows.

So, does that give you a good answer? I love that.

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Yeah. No answer was wrong, by the way. .

Dave Sobel: Yeah, I, if I was to ask you one question, Marvin, is the, what's the, what's the experience that you think other people should. Uh, that, about that, that is [00:46:00] because everyone has a unique experience. And what would be yours that you would think that others should know when thinking about this?

Marvin Bee: Uh, I probably need more context in terms of in what situation.

Dave Sobel: I was intentionally vague. Cause I wanted actually, like I wanted, I want that

Marvin Bee: like because it's, I think it's different because if you're talking, just being in, let's go back to conferences and the way that women feel at conferences.

There are a lot of times that is a natural, comfortable environment that we get used to, and people get a little, I don't want to say lackadaisical, but they're a little more comfortable just. What they feel and talking about the things that they talk about normally. And being the black guy at the conference, I'll hear a lot of things that'll make me be like, Ooh.

Did you realize I was here? And [00:47:00] a lot of times I'll let it go depending on the nature of it. But if it's something that is pretty egregious, then I'll, I'll bring it up. And it depends on whether it's something I need to bring up right there, right then. Or if I pull them aside later and say, look, I'm not the only one here.

And if it was somebody else, they may have taken that in a very derogatory way. Maybe you might want to think about that. So, in that sense, that's part of the experience that I have to balance. Um, I've become more aware of, you know, all minorities, uh, genders, transgender in the community. So I've probably now become a little more heightened to thinking about that.

And I think most of the people that know me are aware of that. So we. , you know, making efforts in that, in that realm. People that don't know me, you know, after watching this or listening to this may, may think a little differently.

Dave Sobel: It, it that, that actually is the kind of [00:48:00] answer I was looking for. Like I, there was an interviewer that I was, I was listening to one time that often talked about the fact that many particularly white male leaders in this space have never felt unsafe, uh, have never been in a, been in a situation that they have.

They have, they do not have that experience of not, of feeling unsafe in an environment, uh, and. There are groups where that is almost the default, right? They always feel unsafe and that ex, that life experience, when you are aware of it, does immediately change. And that, that's why, you know your answer is, is your version of what that difference of experience

Marvin Bee: is.

Yeah. I think another way to think about it too is if you just change the word unsafe and think of it as not having the same opportunities mm-hmm. You know, when we look at people that do the hiring, uh, whether it's internally or they're looking for somebody to [00:49:00] service their business, you again are always looking for somebody like you.

You know, somebody that you like, and there's a lot of times that people will simply get dismissed. Just because of the way they look or if somebody knows that they are different. Um, it used to be that I was always a little hesitant to make comments because, you know, Jewish people have a discrimination, but you can't always tell that somebody's Jewish.

uh, you can't always tell that somebody's gay and so you can kind of mask those things, whereas I can't hide the fact that I'm black . So, um, but it's not always an unsafe thing. It's just maybe a comfort thing of knowing that I may not get an opportunity just simply because I look how I look. If I talk on the phone to somebody, I may have no problem at all.

and then they see me and they're like, oh, [00:50:00] okay. Interesting. Yeah.

Dave Sobel: So I, I will admit, I admit, I use the word unsafe intentionally because particularly for people that look like me, uh, that puts it into a very visceral, uh, emotional place of under of trying to be understanding of that. Yeah. Um, particularly if, particularly when we're talking about.

um, that, that's one that, that, yeah. Many men have never, never felt that experience whereas it is much more common, uh, for, for minorities and, and, you know, and so that helps with the, with the conversation in my mind. That's

Marvin Bee: why I use it. Oh, look, a question from the chat directed in me. What inspired you? First of all, I'm going to say I was not inspired to enter the world of tech.

Um, basically I ended up in tech, so I grew up, I was sports, football, basketball, track student government, and compete computer people [00:51:00] back then. were the gates, the nerds, and you know, they went off to do their things and let you know the cool people do whatever. But I was smart, so I ended up in classes with a lot of them things, you know, classes like physics and physiology and trigonometry and stuff.

So mostly the other football players weren't in those classes, so, Was able to hang out and do things and you know, continue through college and stuff. And the way that I ended up in tech was that my first roommate in college was head of the computer lab. And so, we'd always bring. Crap back to the room.

So computer hard drives and stuff like that. And I would help him figure stuff out. I became a tutor in the lab. I wrote the uh, admissions database program for the school, and I just could tinker and fix things. So, as I graduated [00:52:00] and had my first job, I was still doing computer stuff on the side because back then it was easy money.

You could rebuild a compact DX 2 66. For about 30 minutes and I could take it to the computer store down the street and get $600 for that rebuild. He would turn around and make 1200. But it was um, so I'm like, Ooh, there's money here. And that's how I. Ended up in tech because the guy finally said to me, uh, you're building computers as good as my guys.

When can you start working for me ? And I said, as soon as you can match the salary of where I'm at now. And about two or three months later, he called me and said, okay, we're ready. That's how I ended up in tech.


Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: So, you didn't have a degree in computer science or

Marvin Bee: nothing? Nope. But I did do the thing just for people.

If you're starting out, I did go and get my certifications and took some classes and you know, it wasn't just the, [00:53:00] the guy off the street. Trunk Slammer turned MSP. Cool. Okay, so let us see here. We're getting close to the end and thank you for those question. . And let me ask, this is just going to be a general question.

Uh, we've kind of mentioned, you know, where we're at now. You've talked about, Nicole, some of the things that you all are doing at Synchro. Are there other things that businesses can be doing that would help speed this process along? And I'm going to use this to kind of jumpstart some. Future podcast that we have on this, but do you guys have, you know, thoughts in your head on what things can we do, uh, to kind of, you know, turn the corner and make our workforce more diverse?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: Um, I, I think the, the biggest key, and I think a lot, this is where a lot of great diversity projects fall apart, is they're [00:54:00] missing the inclusive part. And so, you know, they're, they're all, they've got their mind wrapped around, you know, we want to have a more diverse workforce. We bring them in and, and let's say that you're bringing in, um, a new woman onto a team that's never had a woman on it.

And um, this is where you start seeing turnover. By the way, , this is leading into a turnover conversation. But you know, you've gotta prepare people. I mean, folks have gotta be ready for this. You can't. Hire someone completely different on a team that's been working together for a long period of time and expect that they're going to be ready.

And so I think there's a lot of like readiness, inclusion. You've gotta prepare an entire workforce. It's not just like, Hey, let's change our lingo in our job description and just hire some diverse candidates. You got, it's really a full, if you're going to do it and you want to do it right and you want to retain people, you've gotta go at it that way.

So, I think that. [00:55:00] Often where things fail is in the execution and someone shows up and they're like, wow, I'm not comfortable here. I made a mistake. Uh, the website looked good and the job, you know, everything else looked good, but that's not what it's really like to work here. So, um, yeah. That's

Dave Sobel: what I'd suggest and I'll, I'll throw out there my sort of a last positive set of data points around this.

So there's been 3 million new businesses created in the US in the last two years, post pandemic. It's a, it's a, it's a massive surge and there are more women. Self-employed now than pre pandemic. And that's particularly true in both black and Hispanic communities. And those without bachelor's degrees, uh, are le are in in that category.

And that's all data per the Center for Economic and Policy Research. So, Back to sort of my original premise on this is the like there are a lot of new customers and I hear all the time from MSPs how they're looking for new customers, right? , I will sort of smile and circle and go, there's a [00:56:00] surge of them.

There's been a 3 million of them created and many of them are of much more diverse backgrounds than ever before. If you're looking for reasons to get in reasons why you would want to do. Being able to relate to those potential customers should be one right there at the top of the, of those reasons of why you'd want to do it.

Marvin Bee: All right. Well guys, I think we're coming to the end. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to join me on this and use this as a springboard to do more. Conversations on this. And for those of you that are watching and listening, whether you're a business leader, educator, or simply someone who is, you know, somewhat passionate about this issue, I hope that you found something useful here.

And join us in future shows and we will dive more into the complexities of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how we can all work better, uh, to have a more equitable. [00:57:00] Uh, any last words before, uh, we hang off here?

Nicole DeBoug-Kahn: No, I, I love that you're bringing a voice to this. Um, and I love the fact that it's, uh, it's genuine.

Dave Sobel: Um, and what more can you say to that? Um, so thanks for having me. Oh, it's always great, and thank you for having me, Marvin. These are, these are hate conversations and I'm, I'm, you know, honored

Marvin Bee: to be part of it. All right, so once again, thank you for, for watching and listening and join us next time. We'll of course, be back with regular shows of the IT business podcast.

Just head over to it business and see all your information there. If you're new to the show, you can click on the follow button and let, uh, you can be alerted whenever we have. Shows like this or audio podcast in your favorite podcast here. That's going to do it for today. Thank you for watching.

We'll see you next time. Bye for now.[00:58:00]

Dave SobelProfile Photo

Dave Sobel

Dave Sobel is the host of the Business of Tech podcast and owner of MSP Radio, a destination for technology news and insights in the IT Solution Provider community. Dave is a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with over 20 years of experience in the industry.

Nicole DeBourg-KahnProfile Photo

Nicole DeBourg-Kahn

Nicole DeBourg-Kahn is Syncro’s Chief People Officer, where she’s focused on providing the best environment in which team members can grow and feel true fulfillment. She brings to her role more than 20 years of leading HR teams in software, technology, biotech, and retail industries. Before joining Syncro, Nicole was the Chief People Officer for FairWarning, a healthcare privacy software company. Nicole holds a BA from Rollins College.