Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 50

INDUSTRY DEI
candidates through degrees of separation
and networking.
" I started off using guys that were subs
the first few years because I was on the jobs
also, " says Rooks. " After that I started hiring
and I would train them myself. Now when I
hire someone my lead tech trains them.
" I used to hire based on technical
expertise but I found out a lot of times that
equated to bad habits. It's hard to break
bad habits, " says Rooks. " Now when I hire,
first they have to have a great personality
because they're face to face with customers.
" I look for some sort of skills that show
they have the potential to be able to learn
AV. It could be carpentry skills so they
understand how a house is framed for when
they run cables. It could be computer skills
so they understand signal flow. Everything
else falls in place after that, " he says.
When asked about how to foster diversity,
Rooks is cautious to recommend simply
identifying minorities in order to hit certain
quotas as that can be looked at negatively.
" Everyone that I know that I've talked
to who has said something about diversity
within their job, they don't want an
opportunity over someone else because of
their skin color. They just want a shot, " says
Rooks. " That's the thing. Give me an equal
shot and let me do the rest. "
The goal for organizations should then
be identifying those individuals in positions
of power within the company that are not
giving people an equal shot.
" Everything starts with people, " says
Rooks. " If you have people in positions who
have biases where they're promoting and
bringing training opportunities about it
ends right there. There's no getting past that
point. So the biases need to be removed.
" That's how it all
started: doing
electronics kits and
building alarm systems
out of telephones in
my bedroom. By the
age of 12 or 13, I was
installing car stereos. "
- Raymond Rooks,
Owner, Audiotech Inc.
" I never give up on people and I never
think a person can't change. But until those
people recognize those biases are there
and try to work to change them, the glass
ceiling will always be there, " he says.
However, while it's typically quite obvious
to recognize bias, that can be more
difficult in an industry like AV integration.
" There aren't that many minorities in our
field to begin with. So if you have a manager
who's not hiring or advancing someone
who's black or Hispanic it's hard to say
they're biased, " says Rooks.
" It's very difficult because you need
to monitor how people are hiring and
advancing. Then if you see something that
doesn't look right, how do you address it?
Because maybe that person that did the
hiring already has an excuse laid out. It's
very difficult, " he says.
" Usually because of the company culture,
if you're a person of color you have a
pretty good idea of what goes on every day
not just what goes on because of advancements, "
says Rooks.
In general, he says, if companies want to
foster more diversity within their organizations,
they need to remove those glass
ceilings keeping diverse employees from
sticking around or having a larger impact
on the organization.
" Promote from within if you have excellent
talent, and develop that talent, " says
Rooks. " There's going to be loyalty and
appreciation there. That person's going to
feel like they're part of the company and
they have a stake in that company.
" Usually, just by having someone who
is a minority in a leadership position, they
are going to be more open to bring other
people in without having those biases. Just
having them in that position is going to be a
plus, " he says.
" But I think they also have some responsibility
to speak out when they see inequality
or biases, " says Rooks. " That's a different
conversation than speaking up to bring up
a higher percentage of minorities. "
Ultimately, though, fostering diversity
starts at the top.
" If you have a CEO or a board of
" If you've got a CEO that's
looking to foster diversity in their
company, it's going to happen, "
says Rooks.
50
Commercial Integrator JULY 2021
directors, they control the attitude of the
company, " says Rooks. " They control what's
accepted and what's not accepted. If the
company culture is fine then I think the company
will become more diverse and it will
be a better working environment overall.
" If you've got a CEO that's looking to
foster diversity in their company, it's going
to happen, " he says. CI
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Commercial Integrator July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator July 2021

Commercial Integrator July 2021 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 1
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 2
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 3
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 4
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Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 38A
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