AvePoint’s Dux Raymond Sy on four ways to jumpstart Diversity and Inclusion within your company

Dux Raymond Sy, Chief Marketing Officer, AvePoint

Dux Raymond Sy is the Chief Marketing Officer at AvePoint, a Microsoft Global ISV Partner and four-time Microsoft Partner of the Year company focused on digital transformation. AvePoint’s 1,500 employees serve 16,000 customers and 7 million cloud users worldwide. Dux is a longtime leader and advocate of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in technology, and a self-professed “learn-it-all.” He oversees AvePoint’s philanthropy initiatives and speaks with other tech leaders about D&I on the AvePoint blog.

We spoke with Dux about his career and why D&I is so important in technology. He shared a bit about AvePoint’s Citizen Services solution, which won the 2019 Microsoft Inspire US Change Maker Pitch Competition. Dux also shared four things Microsoft partners can do today to foster D&I in their organizations.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and journey working in technology?

Sure. I’m an immigrant to the US and had lot of different jobs before working in tech. I started as an assembly developer, and realized I wanted to be in front of people more. So, I started my own consulting company and ran that for ten years in Atlanta. Then I joined AvePoint in 2013 as the CTO of the public sector business in Washington, D.C. Three years ago, I took on the role of CMO. It’s been a fun ride.

 Even though you’re still a developer at heart, why is it important to you to challenge yourself as a business leader?

I get to meet a lot of different people, and learn from them, and take on different roles and explore new avenues. When I ran my own company, I had to do a lot of different things: handle the technical stuff, but also sales and marketing, customer support, and operating the business. It was a valuable and important part of my growth. I think everybody should get out of their comfort zone – there’s so much to do and learn.

Congratulations to AvePoint on winning the 2019 Inspire Change Maker Pitch Competition! Can you tell us about AvePoint’s Citizen Services solution and how it fosters Diversity and Inclusion?

The best way I can describe it is to give you an example. The City of Richmond, Virginia, is using Citizen Services to power RVA 311, which allows citizens to instantly submit and track non-emergency requests online or using their phone. If you see a pothole or graffiti, you can take a picture of it and send it in to the city to be fixed. Or you can request a city permit. You can track these requests and see all the other requests that have been submitted, too. Citizen Services is a SaaS platform government agencies can use to automate case management and incident reporting. Citizens and field staff can submit and track requests from any device, anytime, because it’s all built on the Microsoft cloud.

We created AvePoint Citizen Services to help government agencies address humanitarian needs, environmental sustainability or accessibility, and to empower people living with a disability. A few years ago, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) needed a solution that could help track and combat human trafficking in Southeast Asia. We worked with Microsoft and USAID to develop a solution to empower countries and help victims of human trafficking. That solution was the early version of Citizen Services.

 Let’s talk about Diversity and Inclusion and belonginess – what’s the difference?

Diversity is about focusing on and celebrating our variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. Inclusion is about involving diverse peoples. If we open ourselves to learning from other people with different perspectives, it opens our minds. I like to say that diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance while at the party. Finally, it comes to a point where you feel so comfortable at the party that you dance like no one is watching – that’s belongingness.

While companies may strive to hire a diverse workforce, it’s critical that the people they hire feel supported within the workplace through inclusion practices and they feel they belong to a corporate family that accepts them for who they are.

How do Microsoft partners get started with Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) efforts in their organization?

The most important thing is to do something now. Don’t wait. Here are four things you can do right away.

  1. Understand that it’s a journey – Diversity and Inclusion aren’t programs or policies you check off a checklist and then move on. D&I need to be organic and “baked in,” not a separate pillar of your business.
  1. Start small, with what you have – ask your employees what causes and organizations they support through volunteer work and ask how your company can support that work. Just ask! That’s being inclusive.
  1. Tie Diversity and Inclusion to your business – if D&I are tied to your business, they’re woven into everything you do. Diversity and Inclusion are top of mind for everyone in the organization, and people are authentic about it. When you’re living Diversity and Inclusion day in, day out, they become part of your organization. That gives everyone license to focus on those values.
  1. Build inclusivity into your products and services – make sure accessibility is a top priority, and that you’re hearing from diverse perspectives as you design and develop your offerings.  

What’s one thing we can all do to foster Diversity and Inclusion in technology? 

The most important thing we can do is listen. it sounds simple. Listening is different from hearing and people confuse the two. True listening means you’re intentional about what the other person is saying, not focusing on what you’re going to say next.

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