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:*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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?