I am so fortunate to have found amazing people to call mentors, friends, and role-models through this community. I have met talented, smart, kind, and determined people. I’ve been challenged, and you’ve let me challenge you too. I couldn’t ask for a better role to help me realize the potential and capacity I have to champion a bright and bold future for Calgary.
I’m stepping away at the end of 2020 to focus on a new goal, the ambitious one of being elected for Calgary City Council. Rainforest and the community has taught me to approach this challenge with an open mind, use data, be innovative, use more data, pivot when needed, and to use more data. Rainforest has shown me that the collective is better when the sum of its parts move together, openly, with trust, with room for everybody at the table, and with curiosity to know more.
I want to call out a few people who have made the last few years extra special.
To Mackenzie who brought this ignorant lady into the fold, and to Brigitte who took the hard blow of me leaving just weeks into starting - both of you are fierce advocates for change and I so appreciate what you both have taught me. To Steven in the middle of it all, who made me laugh yet kept me accountable to action. Aaron in Edmonton, thank you for working with me and being one of the most dedicated people I have ever met to supporting innovation in Alberta. Al has been a shining light of consistency and tenacity, who has been an arm to lean on from the beginning as both an educator and friend. Jim has been a constant source of inspiration and has modelled an abundance mindset to me. His outlook and optimism is continually a guiding light. Brad is the very foundation of trust. I have always felt capable and encouraged from his permissive leadership along his open-minded, willing, and inclusive approach. Those of you who come to LWOL weekly, laugh at my absurd topics, have gone with the flow of trying new formats, and who are all the while building community and companies, thank you.
Outside of the core Rainforest group I’ve found peers and friends through the Calgary Innovation Coalition - at Platform, Startup Calgary, SAIT, and beyond. I want to take all of you on this next step with me, building a smart, resilient, and innovative city.
Throughout September we dug deep into the topic of diversity + inclusion. Let's have a look at a recap of our learnings:
Kourtney presented "Building a Welcoming Innovation Ecosystem" where we discussed our community's role in leading the D+I conversation. We learned about how our pillars and social contract drive the culture of the Rainforest. With that, comes the responsibility to host a welcoming, trusting, and diverse culture.
We discussed the unique makeup of the John Hopkins Diversity Wheel. We then defined inclusion, equity, equality, "othering", BIPOC, and LGBTQ2IA+. We talked about neurodiversity, mental-disabilities, and physical disabilities.
Overall, the message was clear - as a community we need to keep initiating conversations as we move through the journey from diversity to inclusion to belonging!
In week 2 we were joined by panelists Rachel Wade, Ruthann Weeks, and Aatif Baskenderi.
The panelists described how diversity and inclusion need to co-exist. If we are lucky enough to have diversity in our organizations but don't provide an environment where everyone feels included, we may not be able to retain all of the amazing benefits that diversity brings. If we don't have diversity in our organizations (and in our lives), we need to put some intention behind who we surround ourselves with.
Equity is the result of doing D+I well. As Ruthann put it, "diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance!"
To build D+I we need to be courageous, patient, and vulnerable.
Rachel provided us with great steps to take in our organzatons:
Aatif shared how Startup Edmonton has intention at the core of their D+I work. He encourages the ecosystem to be wary of marketing ourselves as being open and inclusive. When we do so, we are vulnerable to systemic barriers, which can prevent people from coming to our door. He recommends going from open to inviting, inviting to acccommodating + welcoming through agile sincerity.
Want to revisit the panel's discussion? Learn more from the experts and, while you are at it, learn from the insights of Ruthann's 16-year-old son here!
This week was jammed packed with amazing stories of how D+I is alive and well within the innovation sector.
Garth Johnson from Auticon explained how the company hires over 250 consultants across the country who are on the spectrum and who bring incredible, unique value to the organizations that they work with. He talked about how Auticon is working to diversify the workforce and help other organizations do the same.
Ainsley Robertson discussed how Clio engages employees on their diversity, Inclusion, belonging and equity strategy. She also shares how she helped increase women in engineering at Clio from 13% to 25% in less than six months. See how she did it here!
Diego Martins shared Getty Images' mission to drive D+I both externally to customers and internally through training, company leadership principles, creating safe spaces for discussions, transformation of physical spaces, and a Global Advisory Committee.
Kristen Liesch joined us from Tidal Equality Inc. and shared how the Equity Sequence™ practice can be learned to build equity and equality through work and decision making. It provides a tangible, accessible way to make more purposeful decisions around D+I.
Connie Stacey from Growing Greener fosters an open and transparent culture to create an amazingly diverse team. This culture delivers a workplace of respect, broad perspectives, and a focus on users' unique experiences- fundamentals to driving innovation!
In week 4 we had Kathryn Hotte visit from Prospect Human Services to talk about programming and success stories for entrepreneurs with disabilities. She also shared some shocking statistics around mental health among entrepreneurs and things we can all do to maintain our own.
We wrapped up week four by chatting in small groups about what we have learned and what we will do to keep D+I moving forward in our community.
What a month! Innovation doesn't exist when everyone and everything is the same! Diversity is the essence of the work we do and inclusion makes it possible for everyone to show up and flourish! Just like the Rainforest🌱
If you have more resources to share on the topic of D+I, please do so below.
See you next Wednesday!
Hello Rainforest Community!
It is such a pleasure to be joining you. In only a few short weeks on the job it's obvious that this ecosystem is, in fact, full of dreamers and doers.
As a social entrepreneur and self-proclaimed Jill-of-all trades, I have worked in several sectors within various roles. Most recently I spent three years supporting entrepreneurs through training programs and business coaching and I have also been dabbling in business exit planning. The innovation sector has been tapping on my shoulder for a while now and I just knew I had to play a bigger role in the ecosystem - so here I am.
Recognizing that Covid19 has affected us all differently in our ability to participate in online activities and events, we set out to capture feedback from the community. Responses will further our future activites including:
After soliciting over 100 responses, this presentation is a summary of the results and observations made.
The original survey can be found here.
For reference, earlier this year a preliminary report to community was created based on data collected over one month of observing participation at ecosystem events. Review the Inclusion in the YYC Innovation Ecosystem report.
Questions about either report can be directed to Kourtney.