At Deegit, we use the term “channel partner” to describe businesses we align with to expand our network and capabilities and, literally, walk us into new marketplaces. The term “channel partner” is often used in manufacturing to describe an intermediary that provides a service that reaches the partnering company’s end customer. At Deegit, we’ve expanded the definition by making partnership as much about diversity and inclusion as adding a service or capability.
Deegit is an American Asian-Indian owned IT staffing firm that is certified by the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council and its Chicago affiliate as a minority business enterprise (MBE). Indian-owned staffing firms dominate the marketplace. Deegit could remain just another grape in that crowded pool without a capacity-building strategy. We believe diversity and inclusion is the way forward.
Society’s changing demographic requires a response from businesses that recognizes the value of diversity and inclusion in delivering a different solution, one that reflects our changing world. As chief marketing officer at Deegit, I have committed to seeking channel partners that are MBEs, and Deegit’s founders and chief executive have embraced this approach as part of Deegit’s growth strategy. Our objective is to create a win-win proposition that benefits our partners and informs the way we share the Deegit brand in the marketplace, communicate to customers and, ultimately, grow our revenues.
Earlier this year, Deegit entered into a channel partnership with an African American–owned company focused on energy and natural gas. The owner has zero IT staffing experience, but he carried our flag into the minority marketplace, which opened opportunities for Deegit to do business with corporations and the federal government we hadn’t previously. He put skin in the game and shared his network, and Deegit named him senior vice president of business development. He still owns his company but now he’s added a new service/capability—technical staffing—with access to more than 2 million tech professionals worldwide.
Most recently, Deegit finalized a channel partnership with a minority business owner who has deep connections in the automotive industry. Partnering with an established MBE, we anticipate that relationship will accelerate Deegit’s entry into that market.
In both instances, two African American–owned companies teamed up with an Asian Indian–owned company to get the win. And the influence and the expansive networks these MBE business owners brought to the table took the place of an actual investment of capital. Working with the National and Chicago minority supplier diversity councils, Deegit is actively seeking a Hispanic partner and woman-owned business enterprise that is familiar with the IT staffing sector.
It is very rare for two MBE firms to come together to expand their businesses. Most MBEs want their name and plaque on the door. But here’s a hurdle we need to clear as minority and women-owned businesses. If you’re a small business owner protecting a grape, consider the opportunities to grow capacity and earnings through a strategic alignment with a business that values diversity and inclusion the same as you do.
Herb Stokes is chief marketing officer of Deegit.