On the surface, it might appear that technical work and efforts around equity belong on opposite ends of the organizational spectrum. They’re often championed by different departments — IT and human resources — which have their own language and objectives.
But what if technologists and the mission teams they support considered how a cloud solution or IT service enabled them to serve a diverse public equitably?
“Both of these topics center around change,” said Ramon Thomas, a Manager on the Design Engineering team at Red River, which focuses on technology transformation. “Cloud, for example, requires a technology change, and equity requires a cultural change. At Red River, we have embraced both, and we’re dedicated to facilitating that change internally and externally with our government customers.”
Although change can be perceived as disruptive, it shouldn’t be viewed in an exclusively negative way, said Chief Technology Officer Tim Rod. He knows the benefits of overseeing Red River’s technology strategy through an equity lens, whether the focus is integration services or providing mission-critical expertise in cloud, analytics or security solutions.
Rod and Thomas work on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives at Red River and shared how organizations can embrace change to get the best of what cloud and equity offer.
1. Collect the right data
Cloud isn’t a singular technology but a business approach that incorporates cost models and nuanced data points to drive a cloud initiative, Thomas said. Similarly, equity is a multifaceted goal.
“The data clearly shows that the more diversity, equity and inclusion you can drive into your organization, the better the results,” Rod said. But a mindset shift that sees these investments as business enablers and force multipliers is necessary.
2. Prioritize executive alignment and backing
“I get to see the links between what we’re doing on the technology side and from an organizational perspective, and then advocate for the executive team to support our entire company strategy, which includes things like cloud and DE&I,” Rod said.
Companies that haven’t made that connection yet should be introspective of their leadership team, he added. Assembling diverse teams at Red River has been key to the company’s cloud strategy and how it supports government customers serving a diverse public. The same is true for diversity initiatives, which connect senior leaders and employees across the company to tackle meaningful work together.
3. Address initiatives holistically
When organizations view equity and cloud holistically, they can bridge education gaps, address the digital divide and build a connected future. That’s evident through initiatives such as Red River’s mentorship program, in which it guides small companies that may be underrepresented in the marketplace and seeking to compete for federal contracts.
The team also provides technology training to students at historically black colleges and universities. Prioritizing educational opportunities, whether for clients or mentees, is a core initiative, Thomas said. When equity is intertwined with technical work, holistic and lasting transformation takes place.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Delivering Government Services Through a Lens of Equity: Technology, Policies and Conversation Starters.” Download the full guide here.