The Women’s Executive Network released its annual list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women this week and recognized some notable names in the country’s technology industry.
Clearbanc co-founder Michele Romanow, AceTech Ontario CEO Jodi Kovitz, BBTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati, Feminuity co-founder Sarah Saska, ACL CEO Laurie Schultz, eBay Canada’s Andrea Stairs, and Futurpreneur Canada CEO Julia Deans represent some of the women that are growing and shaping Canada’s fastest growing sector.
Many of these women have used their platform to speak about the ongoing diversity challenge in the industry. Some of the women shared with the network how they’d approach achieving gender parity and diversity in Canada.
Rafati founded the third-largest video property in the world, only trailing behind Google and Facebook when it comes to unique views. She thinks public companies should be required to share their gender pay statistics as part of their continuous disclosure requirements “in the same way they are required to provide visibility and transparency on financial reporting and KPIs.”
For Romanow, it starts with visibility.
“We need more female entrepreneurs to be role models. In a large study by the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative, people were asked to name the top Canadian entrepreneurs. Not a single female featured in the top 10,” she wrote.
Saska’s Feminunity is taking on diversity debt, dedicated to working with innovative companies to help them build diversity and inclusion into their business.
“The day that we’re able to shift the hearts and minds of executives in the tech industry to meaningfully invest in and value diversity will be the start of a better future for all of us,” Saska answered.
Kovitz created a dedicated movement to increase female participation and leadership in tech called #movethedial. The non-profit recently released a co-authored report with PwC Canada and MaRS that revealed only five per cent of 930 Canadian tech companies they research have a solo female founder.
“This is not a choice, it’s a social and economic necessity. When we don’t have great women leaders, we miss opportunities to collaborate, to bring diverse viewpoints to the table, to address the sector’s growing talent gap, and to create technologies that serve the needs of everyone,” Kovitz said at the time.
The Women’s Executive Network top 100 list was first launched in 2003 with the goal of celebrating the accomplishments of Canadian women and those who are paving a path for the next generation of female leaders.
The complete list is available here.