Sherweb Launches Microsoft-Backed Black Partner Growth Initiative
‘Our program is really focused on how can we provide people the highest level of service without taking any prejudice into account or removing the prejudice factor entirely. We modeled this after the Microsoft program. There’s some things that are similar but we have our own flavors on it,’ says Michael Slater, head of sales at Sherweb.
Sherweb has launched its own Microsoft-backed Black Partner Growth Initiative to help underserved MSPs scale their business.
Microsoft in 2020 made a five-year commitment to address racial injustice and inequity, starting with a $150 million investment to double the number of U.S. Black, Hispanic and Latinx managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders by 2025. In June 2022, the company launched the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative, which provides resources, programs and tools to help partners capture opportunities throughout its ecosystem and across the globe with a goal of elevating Black-owned technology companies.
The program provides Black-owned businesses that become Microsoft partners with access to information, resources and capital to fuel business growth.
Sherweb has taken parts of the program, with Microsoft’s blessing, and made it its own.
“We don’t have Microsoft’s bankroll, but what we can do is we can offer some services to help you run your business, make you more efficient and remove the bias,” said Michael Slater (pictured), head of sales for channel marketplace at Sherweb, a Quebec, Canada-based cloud distributor. “We modeled this after the Microsoft program. There’s some things that are similar but we have our own flavors on it.”
Microsoft gave Sherweb some guidelines to follow, Slater said, and encouraged the company to develop its own program. While it’s keeping the Microsoft-given name for now, Sherweb eventually wants to change the name to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Partner Program.
Slater, who received a 2023 CRN Inclusive Channel Leader award, thought it was a good idea “to roll this out to more than just one group, and then change the language to be a little bit more helpful and a little less prescriptive in the way that it works.”
While the initiative will have a focus on minority-owned businesses, anyone can join if they need help with their company.
“It’s not so much special treatment as much as it’s a leg up,” Slater said. “We’re going to help walk you through this process on a voluntary basis, so it’s an opt-in. We’re making sure that you get access directly to somebody that can help you grow your business,” he added.
“Our program is really focused on how can we provide people the highest level of service without taking any prejudice into account or removing the prejudice factor entirely,” he said. “We want to make it more equitable for everybody.”
James Welburn, product sales manager for Sherweb, liked the idea of supporting underserved communities and helping them become more successful. But whereas Microsoft had the funds to back it, Sherweb can get into the trenches with partners to elevate their business.
“Maybe they haven’t had the right partner, the right person or the right mentor to work with them,” Welburn said. “It’s more of an opportunity as opposed to a catch-up. We’re going to do this all together.”
Partners who opt in will meet with a Sherweb team member to discuss the history of their business and where they want to go. From there, the Sherweb team will “pull the right levers internally” to help them grow their business whether it be training, hiring techniques, strategy, marketing and sales efforts or even becoming a better Microsoft partner.
“Whatever it is that you’re missing as part of your offering or your current state to get you to your next level, that’s what we’re going to look to identify,” Welburn said.
Sherweb plans to scale this program over the next year and get the word out through peer groups and different communities its involved in.
Dawn Sizer, CEO of 3rd Element Consulting, a Sherweb partner based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., said all businesses should make a concerted effort to help their partners in a way that advances them both.
“Creating a program that provides guidelines and structure to help minorities of any type shows that it’s addressing a need, and is not just a feel-good measure or marketing effort,” she told CRN. “In a perfect world we strive for equity in all things, but that’s not always possible. Any company that’s purposefully creating engagement among different types of partners and helping to increase the contact between them is to everyone’s benefit.
“We learn and grow from each other,” she added. “I’m glad Sherweb is investing in their partners, all of them.”