Being a minority can be challenging, in particular when it comes to industries where you go from minority to rare. Like most countries, Canada suffers from a lack of diversity in its Tech field. Currently (again like most countries) the country is now looking for ways to help increase representation for minority, women, and LGBT peoples through new and creative ideas. One such idea was brought forth by StackAdapt, a native advertising platform based in Toronto. StackAdapt “launched #HackDiversity, an 18-minute documentary that aims to raise awareness about barriers to diversity in the tech sector, and calls for immediate action against unconscious biases within the industry.”
To create the documentary, the company spoke with six different leaders from Toronto’s tech startup ecosystem including Jeanette Stock, chair of Venture Out; Heather Payne, CEO of HackerYou; Jaime Woo, engineering communications at Shopify; Elena Armstrong, founder of Exact Media; Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail, and Salim Teja, EVP of ventures at MaRSDD.
The goal of the documentary is not only to raise awareness but to hopefully gain support for a much needed growth spurt in tech for diverse communities. Eliminating unconscious bias is indeed hard, but the first step to removing such barriers is to understand that it exists. As Ali Asaria explained, “It’s subtle in the sense of not feeling like you’re from the same group as the people that you’re trying to do business with and how do you interface and feel the connection with them.”
Creating an inclusive environment is a first step. This can then trickle down to younger generations and allow for more support into the STEM fields, ultimately improving opportunities and resources for underrepresented groups. #HackDiversity is hoping to spark that first step and I am hoping it will as well.