By Corey Moss

Old White Men. The OWM of the industry. Blamed, fingers pointed at, they’re in the way of progress.

Yet many of them represent the foundation that this industry was built upon – I know many of them, and I am likely one myself being in my 50’s. My career in the technology space began in the early 90’s in computer and AV rentals.

I tell a great story of a gentleman, one of the most heralded inventors, innovators and influencers the industry has ever come to know. Without him, there would not be such a foundation for what we have now. The CEO of one of the industry’s most recognized manufacturers, whom I met by chance almost six years ago as I was getting a tour of their experience center. I consider that 3 minute exchange between us one of the golden moments of my career, which I’ll never forget. He’s no longer with us, but his legend has left a truly remarkable impression on this industry.

And yes, he was white.

Now, let me be clear here – when I talk about the subject of this blog I am by no means referring to a good old boys club. That is just wrong in a million different ways.

Let’s take this from the Urban Dictionary.

Good old boys club:

Male discrimination against females. Men who refuse to speak to, deal with, or work with women. Usually old, fat, white men who believe women should be seen and not heard. They also believe women belong in the kitchen, tending to the males every need. Can be men of other cultures working in a mostly male dominated field.

Now, let me be honest – if there are men with this state of mind thought process in the AV industry, I’d like to have a word or two with them to find out why. There are so many incredible women, and young people (who good old boys will diminish too) in this industry – where there is no place for a good old boys club.

None.

But then again, why are we placing blame on hard working white males who have contributed greatly, and continue to contribute to this great industry? Inventors, innovators, educators, important voices – true pros.

My other question is this – at what age is the cutoff when someone becomes old, and thus “in the way” in the industry? This according to those who label the old person, whether they be male — or female. And in all honesty what does white have to do with it, unless we’re referring to the good old boys again. Back to that point.

What does one consider to be the trait of such a person in terms of their blocking the way of young people, along with blocking any real chances for true diversity in the industry?

I think you could be seeing my point here – I’m talking about traits, and not one’s ethnicity, or sex. Progress blockers are all really cut from the same cloth – their only mission is to be in the way.

There are many men who support the cause for women’s advancement in the AV industry, I have been a big supporter for women in the industry for years now. My very good friends have been Chairs of the AVIXA Women’s Council, I know many of the women involved, and I have much respect as well for those who are a part of Women in AV. These are hard working individuals, and damn it if you won’t support them, and even block their path to success.

Then – you are in the way no matter what. A progress blocker.

As for ethnic diversity, this is a tough one. The industry has taken on something that has no easy answers, or solutions. It’s truly something that has to be greatly focused, messaged, relatable to all. Leadership is of the utmost, however an open and ready environment must always exist for anything on this level to succeed. An open dialogue for all who want to join in on it, and contribute. Facilitating this can be challenging, however there are those of us who want nothing more than to help – continue to form the chain.

I want to point out something that recently took place, and thank a very good friend for posting it on Facebook as I wasn’t aware that it took place. It’s not related to the industry, but so important for those who seek answers to the blocking of forward progress in any realm.

Ellen Page appeared on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, and she called out hateful leadership in this country. I started to watch and said “eh, there’s Colbert sparking controversy, even looking for humor.” Then when her impassioned plea began I stopped and concentrated on her words, and emotion. It hit me good – and I got it. She’s truly amazing, and a great, truly remarkable representative for those who seek truth, and justice in this country – or should I say anywhere. We absolutely need more Ellen Page’s – never afraid to speak their minds.

Watch it – the whole thing.

Hateful can mean so many things – I relate it again to progress blockers, those whose only mission is to keep things right for those like the good old boys. This industry needs to form a strong bond, an unbreakable chain – men and women, people of all ethnicities. We definitely do need more women, young people, along with people of different ethnicities to continue to join this industry. Welcomed at the door.

We need to give a voice to more people, and Twitter is one of the greatest places to make it happen. #AVTweeps – those who are involved, making it happen, giving of their time, and having some fun along with it. There is so much to learn and understand, from the technology to the principles – and there are many great people out there, men and women of all ages to continue to innovate, educate and pave the way to the future.

Ultimately – let’s not make the industry great again, let’s make it great. Let’s make it about inclusion, a bond for all.

Good old boys not welcome here – and I for one will stand in their way.

Note: Header image via Pixabay. It represents a strong chain, as in a bond.

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk, Convergent Week and The AV Tech Trade. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/mosscorey/.