As a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are committed to learning about, celebrating, and amplifying the voices and accomplishments of people from diverse backgrounds.
On March 23rd, in honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we hosted our “Life while in Hypergrowth'' panel discussion. The panel explored how women in leadership positions have set themselves up to thrive in the dynamic environment of a hypergrowth company. We asked our panelists about why they chose to pursue careers in tech start-ups, the challenges they’ve faced, the opportunities they’ve captured, how they’re feeling one year into working remotely, and advice they have for up-and-coming leaders.
The panel was hosted by Anjali Nataraj our Customer Success Manager, and featured four remarkable women:
- Janet Bannister, Managing Partner at Real Ventures, one of Canada’s largest early-stage venture capital firms and founder of Kijiji.ca
- Sandra Fiske, Engineering Manager at ecobee and co-chair of ecobee's Women in Engineering committee
- Syreeta Gordon-Taitt, Manager of Business Development at Salesforce and founder of Boldforce Canada (Salesforce’s Black ERG - Black Organization for Leadership and Development) and serves as their Global Growth Chair
- Eva Lau, Founding Partner of Two Small Fish Ventures, a venture fund that invests globally in early-stage, transformative tech companies. Before that, she was Head of Community and Content at Wattpad, which she helped become one of the largest online communities.
While our panelists all had very unique experiences, they agreed on the absolute importance of having diverse voices represented, positive self-talk, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, owning your achievements, and opening the door for others.
“What do you do when you’re the only woman at the table? Don’t let people shut you down or quiet your voice, or let you lose your confidence,” said Janet Bannister. “Anybody can be a champion… Regardless of who you are, just give other people an opportunity.”
For Syreeta Gordon-Taitt, it’s also about elevating others: “We’re going to stand out and lift others as we rise. I always think - ‘how will I open the door for others like me?’ My daughter’s eight years old. I hope that she doesn’t have the same kind of situations that I’ve had to face, and she has that mentality of, ‘Hey, I can do this’.”
Sandra Fiske takes every opportunity she can to be a role model for other women: “Make the uncomfortable comfortable. Talk about diversity and bias. Teach others to be great allies.”
Eva Lau shared that Canada has a unique offering that differentiates us from Silicon Valley, and she hopes that talent stays here to enhance that differentiation. “Canada has a lot of talent… we aspire to be the Silicon Valley of the north but we are our own unique ecosystem that’s transforming the world every day.”
The session closed with a discussion around the theme of International Women’s Day, “choose to challenge.” Our panelists shared their advice on how people can choose to challenge gender bias:
- If you see something say something, call out bias when you see it
- Give people equal opportunities where you can, no matter who you are
- Allyship doesn’t have to be about grand gestures; even small actions can make a big difference
- Learn more about unconscious bias, and then it will be easier for you to call it out
The most important thing is to start somewhere and keep learning how to be better.
Watch the full discussion below, and feel free to share any comments: