As our society works towards a more gender balanced world, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become much more than just a day listed on the calendar. Year after year, it has become a global day of recognition and celebration of the efforts and achievements made by women all around the world. These women have taken risks against all the odds and played pivotal roles in shaping history. Not only is IWD a day of revisiting how far we’ve come, but it’s also a day for raising awareness around the topic of gender equality. This year’s theme #EachforEqual is acknowledging the global issue of gender equality at the forefront. According to the United Nations, no country today can claim they have achieved gender equality.
For many years, the tech industry has been labeled as “male dominant.” Over time, the dial has shifted slowly as more women have made drastic contributions and built extraordinary careers in this sector. For International Women’s Day, we handed the spotlight over to our team members and asked them to reflect and highlight both women and allies within TELUS Digital that have championed supporting and encouraging either themselves or other women.
Recognizing those who champion gender equality
"My ally is Colin Li. Colin is the person who consistently pushes me out of my comfort zone by sending me resources or giving me the nudge to do things I haven't done before. He put my name forward on a panel to share my experience with Young Women in Business at SFU and recommended me for a brand ambassador program that allows me to further my professional development by learning data science. He connects me with people and programs that he thinks would fit based on what I've told him are my dreams, passions and life goals. He doesn't just provide advice, he lives it with me in the ways he pushes himself and recognizes roadblocks and moves them for himself. Colin reminds me regularly that the only way to create the world I would like to be in is to push myself up and then reach back to pull another woman up." - Cassandra Hui, Culture Specialist
"Since joining TELUS Digital last year Veronica Van has been a tremendous support to me. Veronica has been a sounding board, a cheerleader and has provided me with tangible ways to breakthrough the many male voices in order to have my voice heard. While balancing the demands of her own team, Veronica has taken the time to listen and empathize about the difficulties I have experienced working with a predominantly male team, often sharing her own experiences and approaches to overcoming similar difficulties. Veronica lets me know she values me as an individual and as a colleague by telling me outright; often. She seeks me out during tumultuous team changes and simply asks how I am doing. She allows me to finish thoughts and sentences, demonstrating she values my opinions and the unique perspectives I’m able to bring to the table. Veronica took the time to get to know me and recognizes my experience and strengths using this knowledge to provide me with leadership opportunities and empowered me to mentor less experienced team members. Veronica is a true leader and a stellar advocate for women, for team members in general and for me in particular." - Natasha Lander, Senior Program Manager
"Moving to a new country has definitely been a rollercoaster ride, and Jessie O'Driscoll has played a key role in making that transition as seamless as possible. She’s been a constant support since my first day at TELUS. She’s always willing to answer my questions which can end up encompassing a wide range of topics. She’s incredibly passionate about making a change for the good in the workplace and her continuous efforts always inspire me to be a better person." - Karabi Mitra, Senior Strategy Manager
"Having a diverse and inclusive work environment is so crucial these days. It allows for different points of view and thinking in everything we do as a team. One of things I remember hearing from a mentor is how important it is to build a team that pulls in strengths that you don’t have so that you don’t end up with many versions of yourself. It is something I keep in mind when I hire anyone new to my team. With that mindset, I would like to recognize two amazing leaders who I’ve had the privilege to work alongside with.
Emily McLaughin who inspires me to speak up for yourself and ensure your voice is heard. She challenges you to believe in yourself. I’ve seen where she has done this on many occasions and it has sparked change in how the team operates across our organization. She is an exceptional leader, demonstrating her leadership courage in the tech industry by striving for equity and staying true to her values.
Adrianne Yiu’s passion in cultivating diverse and inclusive cultures has impacted how I think and learn about this very important topic. She uses her in-depth knowledge in diversity and inclusion to tackle tough conversations, challenge the status quo to initiate change and demonstrates empathy by being conscious of other people's communication styles and employs tactics to support an inclusive environment. All of which has been so valuable for me to see as I embark on my own journey in exploring diversity and inclusion.
You’ve probably heard the value of quiet leadership. It is one of the leadership styles that builds trust, and ownership; all of which enhances an engaged team. Robin Irwin is a leader who demonstrates those qualities; bringing a hidden advantage to a team. She’s worked with many team members to develop their best self and become strong leaders through her effective coaching, listening abilities and thoughtful approach. Her calm demeanor and caring quality in supporting the team has allowed her to be a trusted advisor and demonstrating the power of a quiet leader." - Winne Chow, Director
"I have worked with Trevor Heselton over a year now and he has always been an ally and an advocate for championing and supporting not just women at TELUS Digital but also any potential candidates that want to work at TELUS Digital. When I first started, Trevor was there to help and coach me through any questions or concerns that I had making sure the process for my first hire was an extremely successful one. I have seen Trevor be present and available over the last year to not only me but all of his team members and go out of his way to support the growth of women within the tech industry." - Sareena Motwane, Talent Partner
"I've been incredibly lucky to have worked with many fierce and compassionate women who go above and beyond to champion other women. At TELUS Digital, Winnie Chow immediately comes to mind because of her commitment to putting people first. Since joining last April, Winnie has never stopped being my biggest advocate. Winnie's genuine interest in supporting my growth and development has allowed me to explore new opportunities I otherwise wouldn't be able to access. Her unwavering support has enabled me to take calculated risks, fail and learn openly - most importantly it's reminded me that my ideas are valued even in times of self-doubt. When you belong to an underrepresented group in the workplace, simple validation and recognition of your experiences and ideas can be a powerful thing. Winnie's endless investments in people is deeply admirable and an inspiration to many of us who have had the privilege of working with her." - Adrianne Yiu, Senior Strategy Manager, Change Management
"When I wrote “Women offering Wisdom at TELUS Digital” two years ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of drive and inspiration I found just by walking around the floor and randomly talking to women around me. As women, we often find ourselves down a rabbit hole thinking that validation comes through recognition. That shouldn’t be the case - whether you’re writing JIRA tickets, designing a component, pushing code to production or taking care of your family you don’t need a blog post to tell you how remarkable you are. I encourage all team members to take a moment this March to learn something new from the awesome women around you.
Thank you to all of the women at TELUS Digital who show up and do great work - and thank you to all of our allies who make this a space safe to speak our truth." - Chantelle Sukhu, Communications Manager
Where do we go from here?
While we have come a long way and changes have transpired, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done. 2020 can be the year that we all can make a difference in the push for gender equality. At TELUS, we have made it a priority to ensure there are equal opportunities for everyone and providing training around topics such as eliminating unconscious bias to our team members. With the support of our team members championing gender equality, we can make a difference towards our internal goal as an organization and move the dial within the tech industry as a whole. International Women’s Day may only be 1 out of 365 days in a calendar year dedicated to celebrating women and raising awareness for gender inequality but, the other 364 days are just as significant for taking action to make the ultimate difference in the struggle for gender equality. Together, it is possible to build a friendlier future and an enabled world for all.
Thank you to all the incredible women who make up our team and to the allies and women that continuously support one another. Happy International Women's Day to your team from ours.