Tech for Tomorrow: Why your Future-Proofing Goals need Diversity at the Forefront

In a time of rapid innovation, true growth lies in the creation of effective solutions to problems that are still on the horizon, or “future-proofing.” Doing so effectively requires a wealth of perspectives, which is why prioritizing and nurturing diverse teams is critical. 

Against the backdrop of a changing economy, Canada’s position as a global tech giant is also shifting; with young talent from diverse backgrounds opting for larger markets and the higher salaries they often come with. Retaining diverse talent serves to add a wider range of perspectives to the types of innovation Canada needs to remain ahead of the curve, a move that will ultimately strengthen our economy in an equitable way. 

While the last few years have seen the development of important learning, training and mentorship opportunities designed to bridge racial disparities in STEM, what many young Black professionals need is intentional advocacy and clear pathways to roles in tech. Through its recent partnership with York University, TECHNATION’s Black Excellence Program aims to connect Black students with not only the education, tools and resources they need to succeed, but opportunities to help them thrive. From webinars to networking events to job placements, the Black Excellence Program is focused on making impactful change that pushes the needle in a tangible way. 

Supporting the Black innovation ecosystem must intentionally occur at all levels to ensure that Canada continues to provide new products and services that represent the diverse needs of our population,” said Tammy Kim-Newman, Associate Director of Employer and Alumni Engagement at York.  “[The program] creates impactful pathways and connections between Black-owned SMEs and students to support thriving businesses, promote digital literacy and skill development, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.” 

In addition to helping Black students make their first career steps, the program also supports Black-owned businesses; pairing eligible employers to a diverse talent pool and wage subsidies of $7,000 to facilitate these partnerships. They serve as important tools for these businesses to make the kind of special impact needed for innovation to thrive, tackle the systemic barriers that often widen the gap between Black talent and their professional goals, and nurture Black leadership within their own teams. 

“Through the help of York University, I was able to find assistance when it came to hiring for the summer—and that was through TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program,” explained Chanée Dowdie, owner of Toronto-based restaurant Honey Soul Food. “It was super easy to create a job posting and then even easier to have access to all the students who applied to our position. We actually had to question how many students we could hire! The Career Ready Program allowed me to not have to worry about hiring and place my efforts into other parts of my business!” 

While the wage subsidies provide more opportunities for both students and business owners hoping to hire Black talent, many Black business owners face their own struggles in accessing the funding they need to make it happen.  

Earlier this month, we partnered with TalentED YYC, the City of Calgary, Africa Centre of Calgary, Calgary Black Chambers, and Mitacs to host Innovate Inclusion: Funding Student Talent for Black Business to help business owners learn about the funding and subsidies for hiring Black talent that are available to them. A day of networking, keynotes, and workshops, potential employers also had the opportunity to connect with post-secondary students competing in Innovate Inclusion: Case Competition. After students attended informative workshops, they tackled a case focused on climate migration and crafted innovative solutions for a more inclusive Calgary.  

On February 27, we’re set to team up with Amazon for Black is Building: Black Leaders and Entrepreneurs, exploring diversity in tech and entertainment. Taking place at the Amazon Toronto Tech Hub, it will feature panel discussions and networking opportunities. You can register here to attend.  

In addition to this important learning opportunity, stay tuned for our upcoming joint funding program that will let business owners combine an up-front loan with a wage-subsidy top-up. 

While it’s impossible to know what lies ahead, creating space for diverse talent is a key step in establishing any business as one ready to forge into the future.