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The magic of the #MoveTheDial Summit: leadership through diversity

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On a typical early November morning in Toronto, I attended the inaugural #MoveTheDial summit. I admit my expectations were quite high, as I had heard about what Jodi Kovitz and her team were trying to accomplish for women in tech, and was eager to cover the conference for Alpha Woman.

The reasons why Jodi launched #MoveTheDial in 2017 are pretty clear:*

  1. Only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a solo female founder. When companies with male and female co-founders are factored in, the percentage of tech companies with female founders increases to 13%.
  2. Women comprise 13% of the average tech company’s executive team, while 53% of tech companies have no female executives at all.
  3. Female graduates only earn 29.6% of degrees in STEM faculties and disciplines, and only 26.9% of employees in STEM-intensive occupations are women.
  4. According to Statistics Canada, women were making 87 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2015.
  5. In a 2016 study, PwC Canada reported that pay equity would boost the Canadian economy by increasing women’s earning an estimated C$92billion


After enduring a TTC fiasco I arrived a bit late at the beautiful Koerner Hall at the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning and much to my delight found a beautifully executed conference in full swing.

What immediately struck me as I scanned the day’s program and listened to the speakers was the tremendous diversity that I had been craving in a gathering such as this. I’ve been to hundreds of conferences around the world, and most recently have become beyond frustrated at the lack of diversity on conference panels and speakers. I’m not talking just men and women, I’m talking about diversity in colour, age, ability, sexual preference, and gender.

2018 #movethedial Global Summit - Main Stage 30

I started to feel a deep thrill as I listened to the diverse, passionate and talented roster. Fully half of the speakers were people of colour. Their storytelling made the walls vibrate with energy. Every single panel was comprised of at least half women, and on many women were in the majority.

People of different abilities and of all gender and sexual expressions were represented. As I sat and listened to yet another wonderfully inspiring speaker, I felt magic in the air. This is how we will change the world, and it takes a woman possessing bravery, grit, and belief in her vision to visualize and orchestrate this, I thought to myself.

Jodi Kovitz

But, not just any woman. It takes Jodi Kovitz.

Lawyer, Author, Philanthropist, Board Member, Super Connector, CEO and Founder of #MoveTheDial, Jodi is a pioneer who maintains a “Just Say Hello” Philosophy. She advocates always having the courage to reach out and build authentic relationships to transform your life and business.

Early in her career at Scotiabank she had the opportunity to create a mentorship program for high potential people. What she noticed was the most meaningful mentorship/mentee relationships were rewarding for both parties and went well beyond the typical coffee meeting into helping mentees achieve specific goals. Mentors, however, are typically very busy and so efficient use of their time is paramount.

#MoveTheDial Connect

And thus, #MoveTheDial Connect was born. Connect is a kind of matchmaking platform for mentors and mentees. Mentees can find people with experience in their field, and connect with them anywhere in the world. Mentors can use their time to help individuals achieve specific step-change goals, and thereby creating meaningful relationships.

For example, a professional in Toronto looking to achieve a challenging sales goal in AI can be mentored by not just having coffee, but rather with real-world coaching and support from a mentor in any country around the world. Finding a way to scale mentorship for women in STEM was a key driver for the creation of Connect. The online platform now provides a way for both mentors and mentees to create meaningful relationships that move goals.

Diversity – For Real

At the Summit I had the chance to ask Jodi how she was able to pull together such a diverse conference.

“When I was planning the summit with my team I knew I wanted an amaze and delight factor. I wanted to create a game-changing experience” explained Kovitz. “It takes a lot of intentionality to do this. There were so many bits of intentionality that were part of the team’s initial vision. My part was really being the conductor. Each instrument had to come together to create a powerful and inspiring moment in time.”

2018 #movethedial Global Summit - Main Stage 44“It was so special having my daughter at the summit. We need to make change in a positive way, which is what we showed at the Summit. Meaningful diversity of thought is what I was trying to achieve and 50% of our speaker’s people of colour, along with diversity of age, colour, background, gender and sexual orientation, I feel we achieved our goal.”

“I want to make change in a positive way. You can create the experience that I talked about with the summit – if you want to have an incredible program and express diversity of thought you must reach beyond your network. You have to say no before you onboard a bunch of people who look just like you. Many business leaders don’t take into account other forms of people such as LGTBQ.”

Indeed, the diversity and thought leadership that I saw at this conference was an inspiration for anyone who leads companies and puts together teams. It doesn’t really take bravery to think outside the box, but it does take imagination and a willingness to be vulnerable.

*Source: #movethedial Benchmark Report 2017: Where’s the Dial Now?

 

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Leslie Andrachuk

As a bilingual pioneer in global digital publishing and marketing, Leslie is happiest when creating new things and inspiring her teams. She is passionate about changing biases that hold women back from realizing their true power and is grateful that at this point in her career she has the skills to make real change.

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