MediaPlanet talked with leading women in Idealogical systems Inc. to get their insights on the landscape’s current challenges and opportunities.
In light of the big technology industry layoffs, we got curious to discover what’s happening in Canadian small tech companies, as small businesses account for over 97 per cent of employers in Canada. To do that, we spoke with the women at Idealogical Systems discussing the current state of their company and why putting women in leadership roles is a good business decision overall.
Idealogical Systems is a unique small business in Markham, Ont., that provides IT services to other businesses. It offers limitless access to equitable professional advancement for women in tech and leadership positions, setting the stage right for the next generation of women.
This interview represents the voices of ideological women and next-generation leaders Aneri Rathod, Ria Latchman, Natasha Juma, Stephanie Lau, Catherine Reilly, Joanna Poon, and Sara Dockens.
Let’s start off the conversation by asking, are layoffs worrying women in small tech businesses?
When big technology companies lay off employees, it becomes a blessing in disguise for small tech companies because this talented workforce turns to small businesses as the next career opportunity.
So, for now, it is business as usual for women in tech working at small companies.
Do you think the landscape of women in the workplace is changing, especially for the next generation of women?
Absolutely! At Idealogical, we did an internal study to understand our talent market for 2023. We learned that younger staff members believe their job is an extension of themselves and will work only for organizations whose values align with theirs. As an organization, we made room for this new mindset, and because of our willingness to evolve, we have one of the best pool of female talents in the tech industry under our roof.
The next generation of women leaders is very articulate, clear, and confident in what they want. They’re out there creating a space for themselves in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) finance, and entertainment — you name it. Giving them space to grow is the secret sauce to success.
Do you see a disparity in women’s representation in tech leadership roles?
There are women on both sides of the fence. We say that very carefully because at Idealogical all women in the executive leadership team are women of colour. That’s one side of the fence. This journey wasn’t easy, but we are here because our company values diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from a business standpoint. Recognizing women for their skills, experience, and expertise is key to a profitable business and good business sense.
On the other side of the fence, immigrant women executives born in the U.S. earn 15 per cent more than Canadian-born women executives, and Canadian-born women earn 34 per cent more than Chinese women executives. I see this reflected in everyday life — a white woman’s voice is often heard differently than that of a woman of colour, and the voice of an immigrant woman is heard differently than that of a Canadian-born woman of colour.
How does corporate culture play into this?
Leaders set the rules of company culture. Some companies struggle to recognize the need for fundamental change and have inflexible policies. This may result from a lack of representation in their leadership, emitting their implicit biases by choosing people who look or talk like them — widening the disparity gap in critical roles. Other companies have solid DEI policies or programs designed by diverse people who bring a holistic perspective, and update these policies when challenges arise.
What are some of the barriers that women face today?
Sometimes when women speak firmly, they’re looked at differently. In some workplaces, tasks like taking notes in meetings, restocking the fridge, and making coffee often fall in women’s laps, and it’s an unsaid ask. However, times are changing. As woke women, we recognize it, and we’re saying no to those tasks and expressing what we want instead.
We want to be in that top leadership seat, to be involved mothers and reliable friends, and to do everything that makes us feel content as human beings. So, the firmness of a woman’s voice may lead to a not-so-welcoming conversation and can be perceived as women being difficult, when all they’re doing is asking for equal access. Of course, exceptions exist, but this is a reality for many women.