Inspiring Diversity with Softchoice and Girls in Tech

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Women currently account for just 26% of all tech jobs in the US, which makes recruiting more women into technology a hot topic for many organizations in the industry. With more and more women leaving the industry, as opposed to joining it, how can tech companies attract and retain female employees? Answering this question is not easy, but a lot of organizations are trying hard to solve it.

Softchoice recently hosted a networking event with Girls in Tech Toronto, an organization that supports the engagement, education and empowerment of women in the tech industry. Their core events, the Power Hour Socials, feature three female speakers who share their career and business stories with the purpose of  inspiring other women to build their careers in technology.

In her opening remarks at the Softchoice-hosted event, Softchoice’s Senior Vice President of People & Growth, Sandy Fallon, stressed that over the next four years, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of tech jobs – and not enough people to fill them. “We need more women in the industry to bring the best ideas to the table,” she said. “That’s why events like this are so important.”

The three speakers then took the stage to share their stories of entrepreneurship, marketing, and innovation. Marie Chevrier, co-founder of The Sampler App, and Ashley Huffman of Nano Magnetics, both emphasized the importance of taking risks and persevering for success.

Closing the evening was Jone Panavas, who co-founded Softchoice in 1989 with David Holgate.

In addition to identifying a market opportunity to be a one-stop resource for all businesses’ software needs, Jone and David were motivated by the desire to create a different kind of workplace. After working in traditional corporate settings, they both wanted a more relaxed corporate environment, one where you could feel free to express your ideas and bring your whole self to work. “Culture trumps strategy,” said Jone, explaining that these values are central to a business for cultivating the type of environment that challenges people to be their best.

Jone, Marie, and Ashley’s stories were living examples of how women have changed – and are continuing to make a difference – in technology. When asked if they ever felt the “imposter syndrome” – feeling like you don’t belong in the industry – all of the women agreed they had experienced this worry at some point. None of them allowed this concern to slow them down. As Jone said, you “just figure it out” and find out what you need to do to be the best.

Their stories also demonstrated the importance of having women in the tech industry. “Diversity is essential to get better results,” Sandy Fallon said. “The advantage of organizations with diverse talent is they become more innovative, successful and creative.”

Just like Google and other tech giants, Softchoice has work to do when it comes to attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce. Softchoice has several women executives, Fallon included, and the company is executing new programs to attract diverse new talent and develop from within the company leaders of tomorrow. Their diversity strategy is how Softchoice came to get involved with events like the Power Hour Socials in the first place, Fallon said.

“We have an obligation to help young people – both women and men – in the technology field to be successful and to have the right skills. If we’re able, as an employer, to host these events, we gain exposure. Hopefully we can attract great people and our employees will feel this is a company they are proud to share.”

For more information about Girls in Tech events, check out their website.

About Rebecca Lyon

Rebecca is a Communications Specialist Intern who is excited to bring you relevant and interesting stories from Softchoice.