Coming from a family that worked in the technology industry, Ashlie Arnold was surrounded by people “tinkering and working with computers,” opening her curiosity about technology. Now, the Pax8 Information Systems and Analytics Manager has been named DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and Talent Champion of the Year as part of the annual APEX Awards, hosted by Colorado Technology Association (CTA), shining a light on the diversity initiatives Pax8 is pursuing around the globe.
This award highlights Arnold’s outstanding work in diversifying the tech industry and supporting rural communities throughout Colorado as part of the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program.
“The Pax8 commitment to job quality and career development is what helps us build great, diverse teams,” she says.
About the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program
The Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program was created when Pax8 was Colorado’s first recipient of the Location Neutral Employment (LONE) incentive. The $18 million performance-based incentive package combines a job growth incentive tax credit with an additional strategic fund job growth incentive to encourage hiring remote workers in eligible rural counties. The idea is to help rural communities create high-paying tech jobs while allowing people to stay close to home.
As a resident of Salida, Colorado, Arnold knows this program and the population it targets well. In 2020, she became the first employee hired as part of the program. She has since helped the Rural Empowerment Program blossom, leveraging partnerships with the State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the Office of the Future of Work – Digital Equity, economic development groups (EDOs), local governments, schools, and other local groups to continue providing jobs in rural and urban Colorado.
“The goal of the Rural Empowerment Program is to meet people exactly where they are, geographically, culturally, and it means meeting them where they are at a career development standpoint,” Arnold explains. “The opportunity to improve outcomes for people and allowing them to stay in the communities that they live and thrive, and love is really what this is about.”
Diversifying tech, one community at a time
Due to the shift to remote work, the program has been able to hire employees statewide and has 45 employees spread across Colorado, with support from eight rural communities. Arnold is proud of the work she’s done with the program and the results it’s delivered for her communities thus far.
“The difference and impact that one person can make is absolutely contagious, and it multiplies throughout a community,” she says. “It enabled me to spread the opportunity of remote work in the tech industry to these communities and diversify the economies of the community.”
The proof is in the pudding when it comes to diverse breakdown of its participants, with an even age distribution of employees, 17% coming from marginalized ethnicities, and 36% being women in roles typically held by men.
“The strongest glue that we have is the diversity that we bring to the table every day, and that can come from so many different angles,” she notes. “It can come from culture, it can come from career pivots, and it can come from different communities.”
Looking toward the future
Initiatives like the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program are just the start. Pax8 is currently developing more programs that will encourage economic growth and diverse hiring in underserved communities. Pax8 is looking to take those learnings from the Rural Empowerment Program and continue the program in Colorado while expanding into new initiatives for our global MSP community.
If you are interested in learning more about the Rural Empowerment Program, or any other Pax8 initiatives, please reach out to our Social Impact team. Find out more about the social impact initiatives Pax8 is currently pursuing.