Mark Clifton: The Importance of Diversity in a Growing Business
Now more than ever, individuals and groups are recognizing the importance that diversity and inclusion play in the workforce. Having a well-versed group of employees who vary in skillsets and backgrounds is vital to growth – especially with small businesses. This melting pot of individuals can result in a stronger and more united coalition.
SPATHE Systems believes in putting the people first and everyone’s input as an opportunity to learn. We believe that diversity and inclusivity go hand in hand. Being a small diverse business means we don’t just showcase our differences, we embrace them.
SPATHE also recognizes that providing an inclusive work environment where all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully and have equal access to opportunities also contributes to our organization’s success. We believe that this sets us apart.
To President Mark Clifton, diversity isn’t part of our job – it’s entirely our job. The root of SPATHE’s company mission is to build and maintain “a diverse and experienced workforce,” and it acts as one of our greatest strengths. Our inclusive culture attracts diverse talent, encourages participation, and fosters innovation. SPATHE strives to make all employees feel valued, respected, accepted, and encouraged to fully participate in the organization. We want our workplace to reflect the community and the customers we serve.
During a recent interview, SPATHE President, Mark Clifton, emphasized the importance of diversity within SPATHE and similar communities.
1. What does diversity mean in the scope of our work, and why is it important to recognize?
Within our company, diversity takes several forms. We’re defined by men and women from all backgrounds, ethnicities, lifestyles, and beliefs. We embrace these differences and encourage everyone to be themselves at SPATHE because we know it only makes us greater together.
Aside from these important characteristics, we have the added benefit of diversity in our services.
Being comprised of individuals from SOF, commercial, and academic backgrounds enables us to transfer skills across multiple platforms. We look at problems and opportunities with a multifaceted view that leads to the development of cutting-edge innovated solutions for our customers. Additionally, our varying ages and backgrounds give us the chance to engage with young, tech-savvy individuals who offer a fresh outlook while collaborating with experienced SOF veterans.
We strive to encourage talented individuals to join our team whether it’s through our Incubator Program, which allows college graduates to experience DoD support firsthand, or through our partnership with WarriorCare, which helps transition military veterans into the commercial space. This gives joint organizations like USSOCOM access to the most innovative technical and professional perspectives. These key traits are necessary to develop technologies, capabilities, and strategies to successfully execute their mission.
2. What role does diversity play in a growing business?
Like many successful growing businesses, we capitalize on our strengths. Our fresh perspectives and broad backgrounds promote an inclusive culture allowing us to compete with bigger companies. Our diverse team is faster, more agile, more flexible, and more innovative separating us from other industry contenders.
Our people define us by being the hardest working enterprise committed to ensuring our customers mission success. As we continue to grow, we know that our greatest strength lies in continuing to develop this unique team which enables us to be more efficient and effective for our customers.
Not only is it apparent in our business successes but also in our ability to come together as a team throughout this pandemic. Above all, we’ve been there to support each other, our families, our customers, and our local communities. SPATHE quickly adopted a multiple of different technologies and web enhanced tools to meet the needs of our people forced to work remotely during the pandemic. Our flexibility and willingness to maximize the available tools and technologies allows us to continue to support our customers while keeping everyone safe.
3. What does it mean to be a black business leader, and how can SPATHE continue to support other minority-owned small businesses?
Being a black-owned small business is something I take pride in every day. Black-owned businesses still represent a minority in the country, and it is my goal to help encourage more growth. Through my experiences, I’ve witnessed the importance of diverse employees and leadership in a successful organization.
The opportunity to be competitive through our Small Business Administration 8(a) certification allows us to continue growing and supporting other businesses like us. Getting this distinction was no easy task, but it’s opened doors for us and allows us to pay it forward by mentoring, teaming with, and helping other minority owned business succeed.
In the past, I’ve had men and women approach me and ask for advice when starting their own businesses. I’ve always sought to provide them with the information that helped me start SPATHE. I have always enjoyed helping small business leaders understand the unique benefits and challenges of the defense support, and technology modernization fields, especially when they come from diverse backgrounds like ours.
My vision for the company first took shape four years ago and continues to grow exponentially each day. The key has and always will be in our people. Our diversity of thought, action, and experiences paired with our common desire to succeed will continue to define SPATHE. We will continue to promote diverse leaders and companies in our communities and provide the best support for our customers through these distinctions. As mentioned earlier, “Diversity isn’t part of our job – it’s entirely our job!”