ITAC Online - The Gender Diversity Issue - February 2011
In ITAliCs

Executive Forum on Gender Diversity – A Step Toward Full Parity

Ours is a metrics driven industry (ask anyone who’s ever lived through the joys of quarterly reports). The products and services we produce are generally designed to improve a customer’s performance from a benchmark of “a” to an objective of “b.” So it makes sense, when our industry is confronted with a vexing problem, to take a metrics based approach to its solution.

One of our most challenging problems is the availability of human brainpower necessary to fuel our dynamic growth. We are chronically in short supply of talent.

A possible remedy to this is to simply do a better job of engaging under-represented segments of the available workforce in our industry. For example, our ratio of women to men in core ICT functions and supporting professions is about 24 percent. And the needle has been stuck at 24 percent for about a decade. Surely it’s time to apply our own problem solving paradigm to this issue.

Establishing benchmarks and goals can work even here. We have seen this in a modest way with ITAC’s own board. In June of 2009, when our gender diversity initiative and advisory group were launched, we had one woman on our board of 35 directors. We set a target to have six female directors by June of 2010. Today, we have seven, and are heading to achieve a goal of 10 by June of this year.

So why not set a stretch target to move our 24 percent engagement to 30 percent by 2015? That’s the thinking of our diversity advisory group.

One way to achieve this is to do a more conscientious job as employers of engaging and retaining women. ITAC is rich in expertise in this area – many of our companies are award-winning when it comes to workplace diversity. And many are eager to improve their performance. That’s why we created the ITAC Executive Forum on Gender Diversity. It will provide a best practice exchange on diversity programs, women’s networks and innovative approaches to building more inclusive cultures. It promises to be an exhilarating conversation and it could be the first step that takes us on our long journey to full gender parity in ICT.

For more information on the forum, please click here: http://itac.ca/events/gender_diversity.

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Walking The Walk

Susan Rogers, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Xerox Canada Inc. Susan Rogers, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Xerox Canada Inc.

“We don’t just talk about it; we do it.”
- Susan Rogers, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Xerox Canada Inc.

Susan Rogers is Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for Xerox Canada Inc. She is also a member of ITAC’s Diversity Advisory Group, where she helps bring the right people to the table in order to push the diversity agenda in the right direction, and determine the critical items Canada’s ICT industry needs to address.

“At a high level, the goal of the group is to work within the industry, where we realize we have challenges not only attracting women, but also in developing them once they enter the industry,” Susan said. “The end goal is to have more balanced gender representation at all levels within all organizations.”

The ITAC Advisory Group was formed about a year and a half ago. Susan said the key to the group’s success is uniting a group of people who are equally passionate about the topic. She said the group is constantly focused on doing things that will persuade women not only to enter the ICT industry, but stay for a long time.

“One case of this has been showcasing women who have made it to the top of their organizations, or very senior levels within their organizations, while balancing their personal and work lives, balancing having children and keeping their focus on raising their family while getting ahead in their careers – which can be quite challenging,” she said. “We want to show that as a woman, you are just as capable of balancing personal and professional priorities as anyone.”

The primary forum for this showcasing has been the ITAC/Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) Speakers Series – for which Xerox’s own Dr. Sophie Vandebroek was the inaugural speaker.

“Next month we’re hosting our fourth ITAC/CWC event in Calgary with Mandy Shapansky, President, Xerox Canada and Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, President-elect, University of Calgary. I think these events have become even more successful than anyone would have imagined. With the caliber of women we are showcasing, and the fact that each event has sold out, it really comes back to us and says there’s a need and demand for this,” Susan said. “And it’s not just women who are looking to progress their careers, or the opportunity to network with other women in their field, but there are also men that support gender balance as well, and they are showing up to these events as allies and supporters of women within their organizations. Or perhaps they have daughters and want to learn how best to support them as they begin their adult lives and careers.”

As for Xerox, Susan said diversity and inclusion have been on the company’s agenda for quite some time.

“A few years ago I came across a quote from Joseph Wilson – our founder and the first chairman of Xerox – dating back 48 years, and at that time he had talked about getting the best talent in all its forms. He said that colour, creed, race or nationality were not part of the criteria,” Susan said. “It’s something that’s always been important to us, and we are very fortunate that our senior leadership team has consistently supported this cause over time – so even when our leaders move on to new roles, the message and commitment to diversity does not change.”

A quick glance at the Xerox senior leadership team says it all: five of the 11 people on the team are women, and three are visible minorities.

“We don’t just talk about it, we do it,” Susan said.

And Susan’s position is proof enough.

“While for many organizations, diversity is often a part of someone’s job and not the whole thing, we have a specific role entirely dedicated to diversity and inclusion, which is what I do,” Susan said. “The fact that we have a dedicated role further demonstrates that this is very important to our organization, and it’s not something we’re going to take our eye off. When there are changes to the economic climate it’s one thing for a company like Xerox to keep investing in R&D, recognizing that as an IT company this is critical to our sustained success. But it’s quite another for the company to continue to invest resources in diversity and inclusion. To me that speaks volume in regards to our commitment.”

Susan said she feels she’s the right person for the job, because her drive to contribute is deeply personal.

“I feel extremely passionate about it. I guess it’s just a personal belief that everybody has a positive contribution to make, and what they look like or how they demonstrate that is totally irrelevant,” she said. “It’s what they contribute that’s ultimately important. It’s about evaluating everyone for who they are and valuing their differences. I prefer to say that people are different like me and not different from me – it’s a subtle difference in wording, but something I feel is critical to remember in both my personal and professional interactions.

“Diversity comes in many forms and gender is just one of them. We at Xerox realize we need to be inclusive and hire diverse employees. When it comes to diversity, if we as a society are unable to fix the gender problem, we’ll never solve other aspects of diversity. So with the ITAC Diversity Advisory Group, I think the approach toward building a more diverse workforce is happening in the right way. Let’s fix the gender imbalance and from there, let’s move forward to the next level. If we get this one right, we can certainly get the rest right.”

Visit the event page for the fourth installment in the ITAC/CWC Speakers Series here: http://itac.ca/event_details/1942.

Or learn more about the ITAC Executive Forum on Gender Diversity, coming up on March 9 in Toronto, here: http://itac.ca/events/gender_diversity

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Q&A with Sharon O’Shaughnessy, IBM Canada

Sharon O'Shaughnessy, Senior Account Manager, Managed Services and IGA Canada, Global Technology Services Delivery, IBM Canada Sharon O'Shaughnessy, Senior Account Manager, Managed Services and IGA Canada, Global Technology Services Delivery, IBM Canada

Sharon O’Shaughnessy, Senior Account Office Manager, Managed Services and IGA Canada, Global Technology Services Delivery, IBM Canada

ITAC: Women are under represented in the Canadian ICT industry.  Why do you think that is?

SO: Traditionally, fewer women have entered technical programs as their choice of post secondary education resulting in a smaller female talent pool for the industry to hire from. As an industry, we collectively need to do a better job of enticing young women into the ICT field by demonstrating how they fit and how their contributions would be valued. We have more opportunity now, by using our current social media (Facebook, Twitter, IM) to reach young women outside of the traditional classroom and show them exciting career options. However, once we attract women, the industry still needs to get better at retaining and promoting them. Unfortunately, not all ICT companies have a good track record in creating a working culture that appeals to or supports technical women, which then results in women leaving technical roles, or even the corporation entirely.

Why is it important to create women's networks in professional settings?

Many women focus on the task at hand in order to complete a project or assignment. While this is important, simply completing assigned work may not always result in a woman advancing in her profession. Women need to ensure their work, capabilities and accomplishments are known to others. Professional networking settings allow women to become comfortable in communicating these accomplishments and showcasing their capabilities in a forthright and business-like way.

At the same time, networking is a great way to allow women to share and learn from one another's successes and failures, encouraging collaboration and often sparking new ideas and actions. And these days, the collaboration continues long after the actual event, given the variety of ways – again, take social media as an example – we have to keep connected, thereby extending the networking beyond the initial contact.

On a final note, a networking event should be anchored with value – a speaker or other learning opportunity to maximize the valuable time spent by the attendees and spark thoughtful conversations.

What has your role been in creating a women's network at IBM, and what kinds of results do you think it has produced for the company and its female employees?

I have been active in IBM's women's constituency for the past 10 years with a focus on networking. During this time, we have developed programming to meet the needs of a variety of professional and technical women through events and curriculum that offer both development content as well as networking opportunities. During the first six years, we took a top-down approach and I was active in coordinating the programming and events across Canada. Then about three years ago, with new women leaders at the helm, we shifted to a more grass-roots networking model through the launch of the Women's IBM Network Group (WING). By establishing chapters across Canada run by local women delivering content relevant to their geographical area, WING has flourished.

Women who have participated in the events over the years have had an opportunity to learn skills, meet colleagues and give back. Many women who volunteered in leadership roles have also developed skills that contributed to their promotion into executive positions at IBM. Through these networks, IBM has continued to demonstrate our commitment to a diverse workforce while recognizing the contribution women make to the success of our company. As a women's constituency, one of our goals and outcomes has always been to showcase IBM as a place women want to work – and not just because it's a great company, but because IBM values women and builds a culture where women can succeed. Our IBM Canada networking programs represent a significant contribution to IBM being recognized as a leading employer for women year over year.

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Putting the Active in Activism

Stephanie MacKendrick, President, CWC Stephanie MacKendrick, President, CWC

To the social advocate, relationships and partnerships are everything. When two or more people or organizations share certain resources and work together toward a common goal, the whole is often stronger than the sum of its parts. That’s exactly the case with ITAC’s partnership with Canadian Women in Communications (CWC).

CWC is a national, bilingual organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the communications sector through strategic networking, targeted professional development and meaningful recognition. The association was founded in 1991 as Canadian Women in Radio and Television, but changed its name to CWC in 1994, when the association’s mandate was altered to include women working in all communications- and technology-related sectors.

Stephanie MacKendrick is president of CWC, and she said the association has been focused on expanding its scope to become as inclusive as possible.

“Our ability to be inclusive really got a kick-start when Lynda Leonard [Senior Vice-President, ITAC] and I talked about the possibility of ITAC partnering with CWC to reach women in the ICT sector, considering the issues the sector has with attracting and retaining women,” Stephanie said. “Lynda felt that because we had established programs, framework, staff, and so on, it would be mutually beneficial to draft an MOU, giving ITAC the opportunity to reach out to its members and provide programs through CWC.”

Through this MOU, ITAC and the CWC have partnered to co-host a number of events, such as the ITAC/CWC Speaker’s Series on Women in Technology.

“This is an absolutely first-rate speaker’s series featuring some of the most illustrious women in the industry,” Stephanie said. “The most riveting thing about it is that we have a chance to not only hear about the careers of the women involved, but through the interview format, there is opportunity for a real conversation. It’s not just a canned presentation. There is time for questions, and you really get a sense of who the person is, what their challenges have been and how they conquered them. This is critical because women need role models to help attract them into the sector, make them feel that they can succeed, and ultimately retain them. It’s a great event, and strategically, it’s absolutely vital to our mission.”

CWC has also offered an exceptionally reduced membership rate to all ITAC members: 30 memberships for the price of 10.

“CWC membership at its regular rate is one of the best values of any association anywhere, and we have a three-for-one membership that we’re offering to ITAC companies,” Stephanie said. “One of the reasons why we do this is because building a critical mass is essential in this whole process. Having one or two people from an organization sometimes makes it hard to develop momentum. We’re a very useful group to help provide a community with a voice. We’ve got training that we can bring on site, we have mentoring programs, career coaching, self assessment – we’ve got a really robust offering of programs and they’re extremely cost-effective.”

Stephanie said the key to the CWC’s effectiveness is in its proactive approach to developing its programs and messaging.

“Diversity needs active campaigning, activities and support,” she said. “Take, for example, our efforts to include the ICT industry as a new sector into our fold. We have to actively go out there and let members of the ICT community know what we’re doing, talk about our programs, build awareness and really foster engagement and involvement at all levels. And this is where ITAC has been phenomenally helpful – in helping us reach out to the right people.

“It’s hard for women to fit in and feel that they belong in technological industries sometimes. It’s really a question of understanding that diversity and inclusion means active support. It doesn’t just eventually happen on its own. Yes it’s an evolution, but when you need to make a change, and the workplace is set up one particular way, you have to make a concerted effort to set specific goals and work toward them. And it’s amazing what can be accomplished with a few of those fairly simple pieces in place.”

The 2011 CWC Annual Awards Gala takes place April 4, 2011, in Ottawa. Jim Muzyka of Xerox will be one of the award winners in the Champion category, primarily for his work with ITAC on gender diversity at the Board of Directors level. Click here for more information: http://www.cwc-afc.com/eve-index.cfm?memfn=events&evefa=dsp_details&eventcontentid=5f62691a-1c23-be25-981a-ae85d1267cbc

For more information on CWC membership, please contact Stephanie at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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ITAC News

ITAC Launches Ingenious Awards Program, Call for Nominations Open

A new awards program created by ITAC will showcase excellence in the use of ICT by organizations of all sizes in all sectors of the Canadian economy. The Ingenious Awards Program seeks out enterprises demonstrating clearly measurable evidence of productivity improvement, efficiency gains, revenue growth, overall business transformation or other major business outcomes through the use of technology. Awards will be presented in five categories honouring excellence in technology use, at a gala dinner in Toronto on June 14, 2011. The stories of the winning entries will be published in an online magazine and distributed across Canada later in 2011.

And the Call for Entries is now open!

Nomination forms, rules and regulations and other information can be found at the Ingenious Awards Program website (ingeniousawards.ca). Nominations will be accepted until March 30, 2011.

The awards were created by ITAC to celebrate the ingenuity, adaptability and competitiveness of Canadian business. Bell Canada, CGI, Cisco, Dell Canada and Intel of Canada are, along with ITAC, the founding sponsors of the Ingenious Awards Program.

Industry Canada Senior Official gives Keynote Speech at ITAC Board of Governors Dinner

On February 9, 2011, Helen McDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister of Spectrum, Information Technologies and Communications at Industry Canada, addressed over 100 ITAC members and other leaders in the Canadian ICT industry at our first Board of Governors dinner of 2011.

Industry Minister Tony Clement – who was originally scheduled to speak – was unable to attend due to urgent business in the House of Commons. Ms. McDonald provided all attendees with a very thorough and informative talk on the Minister’s behalf, outlining a number of key issues including the current status of Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy, and ITAC was pleased to host her.

The next ITAC Board of Governors reception will take place in April, 2011 – more information on that will be available soon.

ITAC Continues to Collaborate with PWGSC on Software Licensing Supply Arrangement

After several months of close collaboration with the federal government on a new vehicle for purchasing software, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) released a Software Licensing Supply Arrangement on February 1, 2011.

While the initial “pilot” phase for this SLSA is well underway, ITAC continues to work with PWGSC to make the SLSA as mutually beneficial to both industry and government as possible.

If you are a member of the software industry and have feedback on this SLSA, or the process surrounding it, we encourage you to get in touch with us. Please contact Linda Oliver at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

ITAC Launches SME Web Portal

In conjunction with the continuing collaboration between ITAC and the Ontario provincial government on the government’s “Open for Business” initiative, ITAC has launched an SME web portal, providing a wealth of information and resources for our SME community. Access the portal here: http://itac.ca/smeportal.

There you will find links to such government resources as the Ontario Business Program Guide (http://www.ontario.ca/en/business_program/index.htm), which is your resource to government-funded programs and services for Ontario, and ServiceOntario’s ONe Source portal, (http://www.appmybizaccount.gov.on.ca/wps/portal/mba_pub) which allows you to access government information, online forms and services quickly and securely.

ITAC will continue to collaborate with the Ontario government over the coming months, as these departments finalize aspects of the "Open for Business Program."  For more information contact Linda Oliver at loliver@itac.ca.  

Tremblant Venture Summit 2011 – May 4-5, 2011 (Cocktail May 3)

Eastern Canada's premier company financing event, the Tremblant Venture Summit (formerly Tremblant Venture Forum), is fast approaching. With two months to go, the ITAC team and the TVS organizing committee have stepped up the pace to bring together:

  • 40 world class investors from Quebec, Ontario, Maritimes and eastern USA;
  • 25 to 30 of the most promising Canadian early-stage and growth-stage companies to present their innovative projects to leading investors;
  • 200 prominent investment professionals, CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Mark your calendar for this 3rd edition! The Summit will be held May 4-May 5, 2011 with a cocktail the evening of May 3, 2011. The event will take place at the Hotel Fairmont Tremblant in the Laurentians, only one hour from Montréal, Québec.

Online registration will start in February. 

Subscribe to the WCIT 2012 in Montreal Newsletter

In May 2012, the 18th World Congress on Information Technology will take place in Montreal, Canada from May 21-23rd. The theme of the congress is “The New Digital Society,” an event that will explore fulfilling the promise of the Digital Age.

The industry’s foremost thought leaders, senior government officials, academic and international institutions and global media will converge in Montreal to discuss how the world can continue to benefit from the information technology and communications technologies.

The WCIT 2012 Organizing Committee invites WITSA members' to subscribe to the WCIT 2012 Monthly Newsletter.

You are requested to subscribe to this newsletter and encourage your members to also subscribe:
http://www.wcit2012.org/index.php?option=com_rsform&Itemid=28&lang=en. 

Other News and Events

“Convergence and Competition: The New Reality” Conference

March 28 and 29, 2011, St. Andrew’s Club

With lines between broadcasting and telecommunications becoming increasingly blurred, intense competition in the wireless market and internet-based players continuing to expand their reach, the telecommunications market continues to undergo rapid transformation.

With participation from key stakeholders, this conference will provide a unique opportunity to examine the intersection of content and carriage as convergence becomes a reality.

Full conference details at: www.insightinfo.com/telecomtoronto.

Request for Proposals – City of Toronto – Pilot Enterprise Document and Record Management

The City of Toronto will issue a Request for Proposal to select a vendor to supply a software solution and with the professional services expertise (such as migration services, integration services, training services etc...) to implement a pilot EDRMS. The EDRMS being sought will consist of, but will not be limited to the following capabilities: Scanning, Content Management, Workflow Management and Records Management.

Interested proponents should look for RFP No. 3405-11-3050 on the City of Toronto website at www.toronto.ca/calldocuments.

The anticipated release of this Request for Proposal is sometime in March 2011. Posted Request for Proposals can be downloaded from the City website (for a fee) and will contain the complete document for your review and bid submissions. It will also provide a contact name for inquiries. 

CIX Canadian Technology Accelerator

The Canadian Innovation Exchange is partnering with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada and the Consulate General in San Francisco to deliver a one-of-a-kind opportunity for three early-stage Canadian tech companies working in Information and Communications Technology and Digital Media to spend three months beginning in June, 2011working in the Plug and Play Tech Center (PnP) in Sunnyvale, California.

Selected companies will have the chance to send two employees to work rent-free in a fully-serviced development space in the heart of Silicon Valley alongside over 150 tech start-ups from over 20 countries. Once in California, selected companies will be introduced to local venture capital and angel networks, get access potential partnerships with tier-1 tech firms, and connect with experienced mentors and advisors.

To enter your company, just fill out a brief profile online at canadianinnovationexchange.com before March 11, 2011. There is no cost to enter - submit your company profile today!

Backbone Magazine Turning 10 Years Old

Backbone Magazine, a publication which ITAC has collaborated with extensively, is nearly 10 years old. This March, Backbone will release a 10th Anniversary issue, set to be their biggest issue ever. It will focus on “Cloud Computing”, “Tech Predictions for 2011” and many enhanced offerings for advertisers. Distribution continues to be through The Globe and Mail: total 100,000, plus corporate alliances, Air Canada Lounges and many industry trade shows.

Backbone examines how technology is used to accelerate Canadian business. Its readers are early adopters, influential, affluent business decision makers who strive to keep up to date with important technology trends for both business and personal use. A lot has happened over the past 10 years, and a lot more will happen over the next 10! More info on this special issue of Backbone can be found here: http://www.backbonemag.com/files/PDF/Backbone-10-year-anniversary-issue.pdf

Canadian ICT Partnering Mission to Hong Kong – April 12-17, 2011

The Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong, in partnership with The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Canada, invites Canadian companies to participate in the International ICT Expo scheduled for April 13-16, 2011, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in one of a variety of capacities:

All of the Canadian delegates will also be invited to join a business program specially designed to increase their access to partnership and business opportunities in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the region.

Click here for more information: http://ictexpo.com

2011 Canadian Telecom Summit – May 31 to June 2

For three full days (May 31 - June 2), The 2011 Canadian Telecom Summit will again deliver thought-provoking insights from the prime movers of the industry. The Canadian Telecom Summit gives you the chance to hear from and talk with them in both a structured atmosphere of frank discussion and high-octane idea exchange and schmooze in a more relaxed social setting of genial conversation over espresso or cocktails.

The Canadian Telecom Summit reviews where we have been as an industry, provides an understanding of the dynamics that propel it and forecasts future trends & expected developments.

Visit www.telecomsummit.com.