Canadian Tech Inspired to Close Gaps

By: Yasmin Ranade

November 15, 2019

Every year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report examines national gender gaps as they stand today and predicts future trends which have indicated progress towards gender parity. In the 2018, the Global Gender Gap Report, revealed that Canada ranked 16th in gender parity, and predicted that Canada could close its gender gap in 51 years. The United States was ranked at 208th.

It is not surprising, then, that Melinda Gates launched a movement called #EqualityCantWait to break down barriers standing in the way for women. Further, research shows that there are critical career mid-career milestones where women drop off the management track.

Microsoft Canada and Red Hat Canada hosted an invitation-only interactive workshop on October 10, 2019 to accelerate the timeline to empower more of our next generation of leaders.

Panellists included:

Carolyn Byer, VP HR, Microsoft Canada
Claude Reeves, Country Lead, Red Hat Canada
Michelle Arthurs, Regional HRPD Manager, PCL
Nicole Mumford, CEO, AirGate Technologies Inc.
Liz McLachlan, Managing Director, Accenture

Group discussion about proactive ways to encourage diversity and inclusion focused on identification of programs and resources to accelerate career advancement, enhancing hiring practices, motivating next generation leaders, staving off mid-career exits, and nurturing different communication styles.

How are these tech companies addressing diversity and inclusion?

Suzanne Gagliese, Microsoft

“As the executive lead of Microsoft Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” began Suzanne Gagliese, VP One Commercial Partner, “I lead a team dedicated to ensuring our work environment values diversity of thought, fosters a flexible work environment, and provides development opportunities that propel women into leadership roles.”

“Inclusion is a core priority for all employees at Microsoft, which means that as part of the performance review and growth process, every employee is invited to deepen their learning about diversity and make inclusion a daily – and personal – part of their job.

Gagliese added, “While I am proud of the work we are doing with universities, government and partners like Red Hat, there is much more we need to do as a company …. We need to get diversity right, but it’s also about keeping people in, keeping them engaged, keeping them feeling passionate about what they do.”

Carolyn Byer, Microsoft

Carolyn Byer, VP HR, Microsoft Canada said, “At Microsoft we view ‘D & I’ as part of our culture and strongly connected to our mission and we truly believe that when we are inclusive, we’re one step closer to empowering every individual in every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

“We believe that inclusion doesn’t happen by accident,” added Byer. “It is really the conscious effort by every single one of us to acknowledge the uniqueness of every employee that we have. And when you’re uncomfortable, you see something that you don’t like, really be brave and call it out. So that’s where we are today, and I think what’s most important is we’re really defining that every single one of us has a role in creating this change.”

Claude Reeves, Country Manager, Red Hat Canada shared,“There are a couple things that are really interesting that we are doing. You have to make sure that pay equity and the whole idea of a diverse workforce and inclusion are all tied together.”

Claude Reeves, Red Hat

“Let’s think about an example of two people,” explained Reeves. “A woman and man, same level of experience, years in industry, and qualifications apply for a role. Assume that the woman’s present salary is $80,000. The man applying for the same role has a present salary of $100,000. And we all agree this is a fairly common scenario. Red Hat believes the role value is $115,000 dollar. If we ask each for their present compensation and make offers accordingly based on a 15% pay increase over the present to entice them to join Red Hat, we are perpetuating the problem of pay disparity. [We] focus on the value of the role and not the pay history of the person applying. This does not mean there is no negotiation, etc. But it does mean that the starting point for our offer to the candidate is not perpetuating the problem of pay disparity. Some will see this as inappropriate increase for the lower paid candidate. We see it as fixing a problem and paying people what they are worth.”

Reeves added, “I’m all about results. In Canada for example, we’ve been able to go from about 5 percent representation of women in our work group to 30 percent. We have a long way to go, but it’s progress and it’s real progress in our market here.  We have to start at home and really help move the dial.”

How can Canadian industry accelerate greater diversity and inclusion in leadership positions?

“We believe our continued success depends on the different experiences and ideas all our employees bring to the table,” responded Byer. “To help foster diversity and inclusion, Microsoft supports a rich community of Employee Resource Groups (ERG) and Employee Networks. These unique groups can provide career development and networking opportunities, as well as activities that promote community engagement and cultural awareness.”

Reeves remarked, “We need men involved in this process, to understand how they can help drive the change as well. I think that’s a particularly personal perspective. I’ve been in IT my whole career, I’ve always had tremendous respect for women, but that hasn’t been enough, and that’s the big thing that I’ve learned. That’s why I’m here, and why I want to be part of this, in whatever way is possible.”

Liz McLachlan, Managing Director, Accenture specifically pointed to Accenture’s recruitment goals. McLachlan said, “[Our business units] all have targets, and they’re accountable to those targets around diversity hires. We’ve aligned our recruitment team around those numbers. And, we have them looking in different places, specifically for women. We’re recruiting at places that we haven’t recruited at before.”

Diversity and inclusion initiatives will play their part in bringing forward the brightest tech minds in Canada, which is good for everyone.


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