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article imageMovetheDial's first Global Summit puts women in tech spotlight

By Jack Derricourt     Nov 9, 2018 in Technology
The atmosphere at MovetheDial’s first Global Summit was exuberant. The event brought together thousands of attendees to celebrate and amplify women in the technology space — and find out how to push for greater equality throughout the industry.
Held at the Telus Center for Performance and Learning in Toronto, the Summit worked to further MovetheDial's goals of greater inclusion of women in the tech world. Speakers from Salesforce, Uber, CapitalOne, Backstage Capital and many other organizations rallied together to push for equality within tech, and to provide valuable advice for companies looking to do more.
Bold change needed
MovetheDial is a global movement, pushing for greater inclusion of women in technology. Since its founding, in 2017, the network has produced engagement from 10,000 people across Canada and the U.S. A report released by the organization in 2017 showed just how dire the situation really is for women in tech: just six percent of tech companies had a female CEO, and 13 percent of an average tech company’s executive team is made up of women.
At the summit, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani shared some equally startling numbers: women make up less than 20 percent of computing jobs in Canada and women in Canada make up 28 percent of STEM graduates.
Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani announced at the Summit that the organization s club to promot...
Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani announced at the Summit that the organization's club to promote girls to get into computing is launching in Canada.
The first MovetheDial Global Summit was all about changing those numbers. The emphasis at the event was on authentic stories that can empower and amplify women in tech — as well as what companies can do to attract and retain women in the industry.
At the event, MovetheDial also launched their new Connect mentorship platform. The new tool looks to drive efficient, goal-oriented mentorship between women.
The Summit was a unique experience in the landscape of Toronto technology conferences. From the early morning electric violin that greeted attendees, to the portraits of accomplished women in STEM fields on display, the event presented a different take on how inclusive tech events can be. Of the 50 speakers at the Summit, half were people of colour, two were non-binary, and two were members of the LGBTQ community.
When asked what made MovetheDial’s Summit such an important event, attendee Laura Reinholz, Director of the #BMOforWomen campaign, spoke of the impact that the Summit can have for women in tech and STEM fields. Reinholz said that if she’d seen something similar during her early years of education, she would have been much more excited by the field of tech and science from the start. BMO is one of MovetheDial’s partners, and Reinholz mentioned that businesses in finance are also learning how to better address issues of equality, just like so many organizations in tech are.
Taking the stage at the start of the Summit, MovetheDial founder and CEO Jodi Kovitz spoke about how inclusion and gender equality is not just a moral or business outcome imperative, even though those driving forces are important and valid — it’s about creating tech that is powerful and transformative.
MovetheDial founder and CEO Jodi Kovitz kicks off the day s events.
MovetheDial founder and CEO Jodi Kovitz kicks off the day's events.
Kovitz told the crowd present that when it comes to making changes to the industry and bringing about the kind of equality revolution MovetheDial represents, it comes down to determination: "Action stems from a simple choice. Will you be a person that goes out of your way?"
Beginnings of a shift
Prior to the event, MovetheDial founder and CEO Jodi Kovitz spoke about how the shift towards a more inclusive tech space has begun. Kovitz encouraged companies looking to make the shift to a more inclusive workforce to ”be bold and be courageous”.
Kovitz also noted how happy she was to see that companies are moving away from being shy about their ignorance regarding equality in their organizations, and are reaching out for help — it’s become more common and acceptable to admit ignorance, says Kovitz. And that creates a huge opportunity for tech businesses and organizations like MovetheDial to work together to fix it.
“This is a positive process,” said Kovitz. ‘We’re not in the business of shaming people”
Business leaders discuss their efforts to move the dial and bring more women into the tech space.
Business leaders discuss their efforts to move the dial and bring more women into the tech space.
Two such businesses stepping up the equality plate are Canadian startups Wattpad and Wealthsimple. Both had company CEOs speaking at the MovetheDial Summit. Both companies have also published their diversity and inclusion data online, a crucial step in identifying problems within the organizations. Wattpad CEO Allen Lau noted how the company enacted hiring practices and Slack tools to ensure that the working environment is one that encourages diversity.
Of course as complex a process as moving the dial for women in tech is an ongoing one. As Lau stated during the Summit, “diversity and inclusion has no end date.”
More about MoveTheDial, MovetheDial Global Summit, MovetheDial Connect, Women, womenintech
 
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