How we got started
We began our journey at Intersect in early 2019. Diversity and Inclusion has always been a key factor in our culture. It was something that naturally occurred and everyone understood the importance it played within an organization from business decisions, company wide events, hiring practice, and more. We wanted to ensure that continued to happen and that D&I played a key role in the way that we operate.
With that desire in mind, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee was founded with a mandate to create a safer space for everyone to feel comfortable, respected, and empowered through opportunities and awareness. The group of individuals with different backgrounds in different departments meet monthly to discuss experiences, events, topics and what we can do on the D&I front.
I want to have a positive influence for those working in the tech community by teaming up with and learning from others to create a space where people can be their authentic selves. I strongly believe that everyone should feel like they are valued and have the right representation. Being a part of the diversity and inclusion team allows me to use my voice to make sure others do not have to feel under represented and so they can actively engage at work.
The best investment a company can make is in its people – which starts with finding invaluable talent with a range of experiences (both lived and professional), and then supporting them to succeed. The D&I committee is a way for me to contribute to this mission at Intersect, with a group of passionate individuals who are committed to our long term success!
Having parents who majored in Computer Science, I never thought it’d be odd to pursue technology myself. I want this to become normalized not just for myself, but for everyone.
What makes Intersect so special is the people, and it’s a place where anyone fits in. It’s important to me to help continue to make it a place where everyone feels comfortable and safe to be themselves.
As the new head of Intersect, it felt of primary importance to me to be cognizant of the goals and aims of this committee, and to work those goals and aims through the organization. While I primarily take a listening role in the meetings, I do consider it my responsibility to provide support and a senior leadership voice to help the D&I move their work forward.
I was partially raised in a small town in rural Canada and have strong memories of what it was like living in a non-diverse environment, especially compared to multicultural Toronto. Even as a child, I was acutely aware of feeling like an outsider at times. Being part of the D&I Committee is a way I can help make everyone at Intersect feel comfortable and welcomed at work.
I know the feeling of isolation and slow progression pretty well. I want to advocate for everyone to be valued and included in the work they do so that we can actually build better products that fit everyone’s needs instead of the few. That can only be done with a diverse workforce where equitable opportunities exist.
As a developer, I’ve been in the situation of being the only woman on the team at a few companies before I joined Intersect. In a few unfortunate situations, I faced sexism and exclusion as a result. My goal is to make our company more welcoming for everyone, and give a voice to someone who may be struggling with feeling excluded like I have felt in the past.
It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. I know what it feels like to be on the outside of a group looking in. I don’t want my fellow Intersect colleagues to feel like that at work, and joining this committee gives me an opportunity to work towards that goal.
2021 and beyond
Fast forward to 2021 and we can confidently say we’ve made both progress and positive impact within our business, and getting involvement with our colleagues. To name a few, we’ve accomplished a “Pride in the Workplace” internal panel discussion with some of our amazing LGBTQ+ Intersect individuals that shared with in-depth on the experiences and trials of a not so visible minority, a company-wide D&I survey, a company potluck to celebrate our backgrounds, a lightening talk on ableist language, and completed an International Women’s Day booklet of women that inspire us to print in our office. In just one year we’ve changed our leadership teams’ perspective on the importance of D&I, our partnerships, and the value of having diversity at all levels of the organization.
While we can celebrate our initiatives to date, we can also recognize there is still significant work still ahead of us. Some goals to look forward to in 2021 are bias and awareness training for our interviewers and D&I members, annual surveys, publishing more blog posts of the work we’ve done, and accessibility competency. We are sharing this blog post today to take you along the journey of launching our Diversity and Inclusion Committee and to be transparent around our progress and pledge. We have big goals for 2021 and beyond, and we’re excited about where we’re headed!