Tamara Fletcher: A Passionate Leader Creating a Diverse Culture of Inclusivity, Belonging and Empowerment

The Most Influential Women in Diversity & Inclusion, 2023

Tamara Fletcher, the Director, Global DEI Advancement at CDW, believes that technology is constantly changing, and for a company to stay relevant, it must be just as agile. To achieve this agility, innovation is crucial, and innovation requires a different approach to thinking and problem-solving. She emphasizes the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in creating a safe environment that fosters psychological safety and a sense of belonging. This safety encourages individuals to share their perspectives and ideas, allowing for innovation to thrive, keeping organizations relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

Tamara’s personal experiences as a woman of color in the tech industry have fueled her passion for DEI work. Her leadership has played a pivotal role in helping CDW establish a culture of belonging and empowerment where every coworker is encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work. Her approach to DEI has earned recognition from industry leaders and set a new standard for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

The company that empowers, supports and celebrates

Tamara was recruited to CDW almost 18 years ago right out of college. “Funny enough, I started CDW with the intent to get sales experience for a couple of years and move on. But there is something about this culture and this company that just wouldn’t let me go. The organization continues to empower me, take chances on me, support my development and celebrate my accomplishments, and for that I am eternally grateful!” she says.

However, the road to becoming a successful leader was not without obstacles for her. When she went after her first Manager role at CDW not everyone was rooting for her success – even people that she had helped develop along the way. “It taught me very early that going after things that you know you are destined for, may feel lonely. There will be plenty of moments when you feel unsupported or that people around you don’t want or expect for you to succeed. Those are the moments where you lean in and keep going. You can’t get diamonds without pressure,” she says.

Tamara’s path to DEI work began through her involvement in CDW’s Business Resource Groups, which provided her with a safe space to embrace her identity as a Black Lesbian and help create a culture of inclusivity. “The BRGs became my safe haven to be proud of who I am, recognize my unique value, and help create a culture where others can do the same,” she says. When a DEI position opened up, she was hand-selected based on her work with the BRGs. “DEI fell into my lap, but it brought purpose to my life and career,” she reflects.

Inspiring and leading others towards a common goal

According to Tamara, success for her is not so much so about her own accomplishments, but rather the growth and development of those under her leadership. For her, success is achieved when she sees people transforming their perspectives, exchanging inclusive ideas, and overall making progress. She believes that true leadership is all about inspiring and leading others towards a common goal, and she finds little value in personal success if it does not benefit others.

Tamara is a firm believer in the impact of leadership and strives to set a high standard for those around her. She recognizes the importance of leading with integrity and transparency and puts her people first. By fostering a culture of trust, she empowers her team to contribute to the organization’s success and promote inclusive leadership across CDW. As she continues to drive this mission forward, trust remains at the forefront of her efforts to ensure that the standard is reflected throughout the company.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to a culture of inclusion and equity, where everyone feels they belong.” – Tamara Fletcher

A culture committed to diversity, equity and inclusion

Founded in 1984 and based in Lincolnshire, IL, CDW is a leading multi-brand provider of information technology (IT) solutions to over 250,000 small, medium and large business, government, education and healthcare customers throughout the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The company strives to simplify the complexities of technology across design, selection, procurement, integration and management for customers.

At the core of CDW’s culture is a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, where everyone feels valued and included. CDW’s more than 15,100 coworkers are passionate about finding the best technology solutions to enable the mission-driven needs of their customers. The company’s goal is to become the trusted adviser and extension of their customers’ IT resources, with a team of highly skilled technology specialists, sellers, and advanced service delivery engineers. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to a culture of inclusion and equity, where everyone feels they belong,” she adds.

CDW’s multi-brand offering approach enables them to identify the products or combination of products from their vendor partners that best address each customer’s specific IT requirements. With a solutions portfolio including more than 100,000 products and services from more than 1,000 leading and emerging brands, CDW’s IT solutions are delivered in physical, virtual and cloud-based environments through customer-facing coworkers, including sellers, highly-skilled technology specialists and advanced service delivery engineers.

The company has a demonstrated track record of execution and evolving with IT trends as well as the needs of its customers. The more technology changes, the greater the opportunity for CDW to deliver value to customers and partners by helping customers navigate the increasingly complex IT landscape. “At CDW, we view our people as our superpower and deeply committed to our purpose, our values and delivering exceptional experiences for our customers,” Tamara further says.

Today more than ever, technology is viewed as an essential asset of innovation for businesses and one that CDW believes will continue to play an increasingly important role in the years ahead. “Our role as a trusted, strategic partner to our customers is also more important now than ever as the company looks to continue to be our customers’ partner of choice as we make technology work so people can do great things,” she adds.

Attracting and empowering diverse talent while integrating DEI principles

At CDW, Tamara is responsible for the execution of their broader DEI Strategy, which involves creating an inclusive culture, attracting and empowering diverse talent, and integrating DEI principles into their business model. “I also have the privilege of working side by side with our functional leaders, as a Business Partner on all things DEI for their organizations. I also am responsible for our Global DEI strategy as well. Needless to say, my plate is overflowing, so a typical day is filled from start to finish with meetings. I do my best to sneak in a quick bite to eat, but otherwise I’m on WebEx or Microsoft Teams,” she says.

Despite the challenges, Tamara is motivated by her sense of purpose. “Everything that I do has a purpose that impacts who I am today and an even better version of myself in the future. What I do has purpose for the future of CDW, for every coworker, for my family and for this world, so I get up each day, put a smile on my face and live out the purpose that I was put on earth to fulfil,” she recognizes.

Driven by a desire to inspire the next generation of Black women

Tamara is deeply aware of the blessings in her life and career, and she acknowledges the tremendous support she has received from her mentors, sponsors, and friends. According to her, “I have had such a strong support system; I’ve had several mentors and sponsors and friends to cheer me on. Of course, that does not mean that I have not faced adversity, trust me I have had my fair share of it – especially as a woman of color.”

Despite these challenges, Tamara remains resilient and is driven by a desire to inspire the next generation of Black women to reach their full potential. She recognizes that there have been few role models for her to look up to, and she is committed to being an example of what is possible for younger Black women. She sees each milestone she achieves as a tangible goal for others to aspire to, and she is determined to shatter glass ceilings and conquer insurmountable goals so that the next generation can believe that anything is attainable.

Tamara finds the most gratifying recognition in witnessing the actualization of her DEI efforts. She is particularly moved by the transformation of people’s perspectives and actions towards DEI. “To know that I played such a small but impactful role in how people will foster inclusion, belonging and psychological safety for future talent (and perhaps people they will even encounter outside of work) warms my heart. Outside of that, this recognition right now is pretty humbling and exciting for me as well!” she states.

“Everything that I do has a purpose that impacts who I am today and an even better version of myself in the future.” – Tamara Fletcher

Empowering others to achieve what may seem impossible

When it comes to balancing personal and professional life, Tamara admits she doesn’t have a perfect answer. While she struggles with self-care, she feels grateful for her supportive family, including her wife, Hollye, and their two young daughters, Ryann and Reese. “Everything I do is for them which gives both lives purpose. At work, I make sure my team understands the purpose in their personal lives and in their work. I do my best to make sure that they have plenty of room to make an impact in both areas and as a result, they feel empowered to put their all into what they do during work hours and on their own time,” she says.

Tamara’s goal is to empower others to achieve what may seem impossible, whether it’s advancing in their careers or broadening their perspectives. “Whether that is through one’s career aspirations, new ways of connecting with others, or simply expanding the lens of how someone sees the world, I want to transform lives. I will continue to challenge myself on how I live out my purpose, and never settle or become complacent,” she says.

Her message to aspiring businesswomen is to “recognize your worth, find your purpose, and see yourself as an example for someone else.” “Remember it is not up to anyone else who you become – only you have the power to write your story. So, write it with pride and live out each day knowing that you are doing what you were put on this earth to do – and there is NO ONE who can do it better!” she concludes.

“Remember it is not up to anyone else who you become – only you have the power to write your story. So, write it with pride and live out each day knowing that you are doing what you were put on this earth to do – and there is NO ONE who can do it better!” – Tamara Fletcher