Companies that embrace gender diversity enjoy a competitive advantage that more technology and communications companies should leverage, according to business executives.
That theme was advanced by several speakers recently as 450 leaders from the communications and technologies industries gathered in Ottawa to mark the 25th anniversary of the Women in Communications and Technology (WCT), a national organization dedicated to the advancement of women.
Monique Mercier, executive vice-president corporate affairs for Telus, and the WCT 2016 Woman of the Year, said diversity correlates with strong financial success, so she’s mystified why the gender gap remains so wide.
“Clearly corporate culture is shifting, but we have to step on the accelerator,” she said.
Governor General David Johnston told the receptive crowd the ongoing failure to leverage the strength women in the workplace “is simply wrong and foolish.”
“Gender equality is the right thing and the bright thing to do,” and he called on all men to work for gender equity.
It’s time “to shake up bro culture,” agreed Paul Vallee, CEO and Founder of Pythian, vowing to support a new WCT initiative called Up the Numbers, a national campaign to collect and report on the number of women in digital enterprises. By understanding more precisely how many women are operating at senior levels, he said it will be easier to set and achieve targets for improvement.
In recognition of his commitment to diversity and inclusion in corporate hiring and retention efforts, as well as his support of initiatives that encourage high school girls to pursue careers in computer studies, Vallee was honored at the event as a Diversity Champion.
Joanne Stanley, WCT’s executive director, said with the brains and tools women can bring to the table, it’s unacceptable that the number of women executives in the technology sector has remained mired at 25 per cent for the past number of years.
“Twenty five years is as long time to campaign,” she said of WCT’s mission.”It can sometimes feel lonely and battle-weariness will creep in if you let it, but looking ahead, I am more optimistic than ever.”
Gender equity is about more than numbers, Patty Hajdu, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, reminded the attendees. When women are helping shape legislation, making decisions about legal affairs and “it’s good for all of us.”
As part of the celebration, WCT handed out awards recognizing diverse achievements and exceptional leadership. By publicly recognizing outstanding women, the highlights the crucial role women play in the industry’s success.
WCT 2016 Award winners
- Woman of the Year: Monique Mercier, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Legal officer and Corporate Secretary, Telus
- Company of the Year: Accenture
- Chair’s Award of Distinction: Janice McDonald, The Beacon Agency
- WCT Leader: Nilufer Erdebil, Founder and CEO Spring2 innovation
- Technology Innovator: Susan Ibach, Technology Evangelist, Windows, Microsoft Canada
- Mentor: Julie Kumaria, Vice-President, Marketing and Content Distribution, Hollywood Suite
- Innovator: Michelle Goldson, Director, Organizational Readiness, Cogeco Cable Canada
- Emerging Leader: Kate Arthur, Director and Co-founder, Kids Code Jeunesse
- Trailblazer: Nanci MacLean, In-House Production, Bell Media
- Entrepreneur: Shahrzad Rafti, Founder and CEO, Broadband TV
- Empowerment: Serda Evren, Vice-President, North American Communications, MasterCard
- Diversity Champion: Paul Vallee, CEO and Founder, Pythian