25 Women to Watch: Succeeding in a COVID World

Canada51 was launched in 2020, with a mandate to grow into a collective of organizations, and individuals unlocking capital to invest inclusively in women-entrepreneurs and women-led companies. As a first step, we have convened our first Canada51 Capital Council. We have partnered with Women of Influence to amplify the stories of these women and their companies, and over the next few weeks you can learn more about them as part of the Women of Influence What Now series.


by Danielle Graham 


2020 has been a year of disruption and change. We are living through the first pandemic of our lifetimes; Millennial’s second financial crisis and the inequalities of our systems are more exposed than ever. Amidst the chaos, there is also an opportunity to break things down and rebuild, to expose what wasn’t working and find solutions to make it better.

Even while facing less access to capital, struggles in the start-up phase and outdated prejudices about women in leadership, women’s entrepreneurship is accelerating within Canada and beyond. In the spirit of collaboration and like-minded missions, Sandpiper Ventures from the east coast and The51 from the west, have come together to launch a new, national partnership to unlock capital and invest in women-led startups across Canada.

The result of our combined knowledge and shared networks is called Canada51.  This inclusive network is intended to grow to include all key organisations and people across Canada who see this as a social mandate and financial and economic opportunity.  Canada51 is committed to increase the participation of women as investors and business leaders and amplify the success of women tech entrepreneurs. 

Within Canada’s technology sector, only 25% of the 4,000 angel and seed-funded software companies have raised enough capital to see them through to the end of 2020. Entrepreneurs are now prioritizing survival by reducing burn and/or production costs. The devastating impact of mothballing exciting growth opportunities and reducing overhead became evident when Statistics Canada reported the second-highest unemployment rate on record at 12% with over 2.4 million Canadians filing employment insurance claims. 

If businesses don’t make it out of this crisis, not only will the impact on the lives of these entrepreneurs and their employees be devastating, the economic engine of this country will cease to exist. Subsequently, Canada’s burgeoning technology ecosystem, one that was just starting to make strides in enabling diverse founders, will become a shell of its former self, with the effort of many over the previous decade amounting to nothing. The silver lining is that COVID-19 is paving the way for a new, higher-tech future, with the potential for faster technology adoption at all levels of society. 

Recognizing that the innovation engine is what keeps our economy running during this crisis, we have been continually inspired by how entrepreneurs have stepped up and built critical solutions in the fight against COVID-19. Within the tech startup ecosystem specifically, we have had countless conversations with founders from coast to coast who are positioning themselves to weather this storm. 

Canada 51’s COVID-specific response is one of the first of many collaborations to amplify women entrepreneurs nationally. We are all investors focused on women founders, and these are founders we’ve known over the years from our programs, community engagement and portfolios. They are forward-thinking and performing exceptionally well even in such challenging times because their tech solutions are exactly what’s needed for our future economy.

These founders are examples of the resilience, strength and leadership our communities need. Below they share their perspectives on the future, and the lessons they are from COVID-19 as we collectively pivot. 

  1. Drones

Alex McCalla, COO & Co-founder of AirMatrix

AirMatrix helps cities and enterprises prepare for, manage and enable drone operations by building millimetre-precise drone roads for dense urban environments. Learn how AirMatrix is helping high-density cities create safe, scalable and efficient transportation systems here.

  1. Fake News

Harleen Kaur, CEO & Co-founder of Ground News

Ground News is the world’s first ‘News Comparison Platform’ aggregating news from 50,000+ publications globally, across the political spectrum. Learn how Ground News provides consumers with deeper coverage analysis to address the problems of misinformation, political bias and sensationalism here.

  1. Artificial Intelligence

Erin Kelly, CEO of Advanced Symbolics

Advanced Symbolics is a market research leader, with Polly, its proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Learn how Advanced Symbolics helps businesses and governments better understand their audiences here

  1. Artificial Intelligence  

Donna Litt, COO & Co-founder of Kiite

Kiite, a leading provider of AI solutions for sales, helps sales teams capture, organize and share their documented and tribal knowledge. Learn how their tech sales training program, operating as Uvaro, equips recruits to pursue or grow their careers in tech sales here.

  1. Cybersecurity

Anne Genge, CEO & CO-founder of Alexio Corporation

Alexio Corporation is an award-winning CyberRisk prevention software and training company for healthcare practices and other small to medium-sized businesses. Learn how Alexio specializes in delivering enterprise-class cyber-security to smaller networks here.

  1. Digital Health

Kristal Lewis, Founder & CEO at Senior Care Connect

Senior Care Connect offers a web platform that easily connects those seeking a caregiver with caregivers offering services for hire. Learn how Senior Care Connect is giving families peace of mind and reducing the cost of care delivered here.

  1. Education

Julia Rivard Dexter, Co-Founder & CEO of Squiggle Park

Squiggle Park, one of the fastest-growing EdTech games of 2018, uses a scientifically backed reading methodology for Pre K-2 students to accelerate mastery of skills development in phonemes, phonemic awareness, word work, spelling and more. Learn how Squiggle Park helps students master the skills required to become a strong reader here.

  1. The Gig Economy / Remote Work

Bobbie Racette, CEO & Founder of Virtual Gurus

The Virtual Gurus is a Talent-as-a-Service (TaaS) platform that matches businesses and entrepreneurs with onshore, Canadian and US-based virtual assistants using a proprietary algorithm. Learn how The Virtual Gurus provides an inclusive, cost-effective solution here.

  1. Utilities

Elaine Kelly, COO & Co-founder, Klir

Klir’s integrated water regulatory compliance platform helps water utilities manage their compliance and regulation more effectively. Learn how Klir is helping make water safer here.

  1. Mobile Apps / Artificial Intelligence

Eyra Abraham, CEO & Founder of Lisnen

Lisnen is a mobile application that provides safety and situational awareness to people with hearing loss using AI. Learn how Lisnen is making life easier and safer for the deaf and hard of hearing here.

  1. Financial Services 

Marina Mann, CEO & Co-founder of EatSleepRIDE

EatSleepRIDE Motorcycle GPS® (ESR) is a social, tracking and safety platform for motorcycle riders, with its smartphone technology using mobility tools coupled with AI to improve safety and reduce motorcycle-related injury. Learn how Eat Sleep Ride Mobile is powering new kinds of insurance and making motorcycles more accessible and safer here.

  1. Digital Health

Huda Idrees, Founder & CEO at Dot Health

Dot Health is a mobile platform for the secure retrieval and storage of Canadians’ medical records from any healthcare provider. Learn how Dot Health is connecting the world’s healthcare information here.

  1. Virtual Reality

Nicole McLean, Co-founder of Instage

InStage makes VR speaking experiences, combining believable VR experience with useful analytics. Learn how InStage is increasing the speed that speaking skills and content are learned here.

  1. Delivery Services

Ugochi Owo, CEO of Flindel

Flindel is leading returns solution for online merchants globally with a focus on automating commerce returns. Learn how Flindel is empowering retailers to thrive by optimizing returns here.

  1. Digital Health 

Alexandra Greenhill, Founder, CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Careteam

Careteam Technologies is a cloud-based, AI-enabled digital collaboration and communication platform that enables care planning, patient engagement and offers a set of tools that integrate with other technologies. Learn how Careteam Technologies is helping clinicians collaborate, adapt, coordinate and accelerate their move towards patient-centred care here.

  1. Biotechnology

Bethany Deshpande, CEO of SomaDetect

SomaDetect is an agricultural technology company connecting dairy farmers with the milk-quality indicators most relevant for the management of their production. Learn how SomaDetect is enabling dairy farmers to identify problems early and produce the best possible milk here.

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Farah Brunache, CEO & Founder of Lagatos

Lagatos empowers digital underserved communities by helping run hyper-localized and accessible IaaS platforms. Learn how Lagatos is addressing the growing digital divide here.

  1. Accessibility

Maayan Ziv, CEO & Founder of AccessNow

AccessNow is a mobile app and web platform focused on connecting people to accessible experiences. Learn how AccessNow is empowering people to search for, rate and discover places and experiences that meet their accessibility needs here.

  1. Identity Tracking

Leanne Bellegarde, CEO of AKAWE Technologies

AKAWE Technologies provides inclusive digital blockchain solutions that embraces diversity through a unified governance process and distributed service model. Learn how AKAWE Technologies is enabling communities, economies, and nations here.

  1. The Sharing Economy

Sarah Selhi, CEO of SpaceiShare

SpaceiShare is a sharing economy platform and that helps property owners manage and monetize their idle spaces. Learn how SpaceiShare is enabling more market transparency and providing renters with affordable space solutions here.

  1. Real Estate 

Monila Joroszonek, CEO & Co-founder of RATIO.CITY

RATIO.CITY provides data-driven insights that can be converted into actionable strategies for cities. Learn more about how RATIO.CITY is helping build better, more livable cities here.

  1. Resource Extraction & Safety

Shelby Yee, CEO & Co-founder of RockMass Technologies

RockMass Technologies is the fastest digital rock mechanics tool for collecting structural orientation data underground. Learn how RockMass Technologies is enabling mines to operate safer and more efficiently through streamlined and digital data collection here.

  1. Music

Laura Simpson, Co-founder of Side Door

Side Door is a platform that matches artists with hosts, builds direct connections and simplifies the show-booking process with easy and transparent digital tools, building communities through the shared experience of art. Learn how Side Door enables artists to monetize their online performances here.

  1. Accessibility

Alwar Pillai, CEO of Fable Tech Labs

Fable Tech Labs has built an online platform that connects researchers, designers and developers with people with disabilities, with the goal of making it easier to create an accessible digital product. Learn how Fable Tech Labs is making it easier for digital teams to engage people with disabilities in product development here.

  1. Personal Care Services

Alicia Soulier, CEO of SalonScale Technology

Launched in 2018, SalonScale Technology has created the world’s first digital colour bar scale for stylists. Learn how SalonScale Technology is providing smart technology solutions and digital tools to help salons succeed here.

In the Canadian tech ecosystem, we have the power of problem-solving and the capacity to build scalable tech-enabled solutions with top-tier talent. I expect to see an increase in the number of technology startups in 2020. Historically, start-up creation spikes post-crisis. Smart, highly capable founders who were let go from corporate roles see this time as an opportunity to “go for it”. Intelligent investors will work hard to find, back and support these entrepreneurs as they look to build the next wave of generation-defining technology startups.

The last few months have a deeper need for these tech solutions and a newfound openness to rapid change that is being readily applied. These founders have not only responded quickly to the crisis, but they were already forward-thinking within their respective sectors, leading the way through the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. I am hopeful for the continued adoption of these innovative technologies and I know that these startups can play an integral role in the future of tech.

First-hand, I have witnessed the incredible technology being built, some are category leaders and have the potential to change the industries mentioned above for the better. We all are affected by the impact of this crisis and our entire global culture is shifting. These tech founders are ready to lead us into that future.

Danielle Graham

Danielle Graham

Danielle Graham is an Investment Principal and Co-founder of Sandpiper Ventures. She has extensive experience across the angel ecosystem in Ontario, particularly the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor and is a Venture Partner to the Archangel Network of Funds. Danielle has spent her career investing in, amplifying and enabling diverse founders to scale their businesses and succeed.

Where is the number one city in the world to be a woman entrepreneur in 2019?

We are currently in Singapore attending the 10th annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit, a three-day event dedicated to analyzing, celebrating and improving women’s entrepreneurship around the globe. This year the summit has brought together over 150 women founders, CEOs, dignitaries, professionals and Dell Leaders to explore the theme ‘Share. Inspire. Transform.’ Today, Dell has released their 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, ranking 50 global cities on their ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs. Let’s take a look at what the index means and why it’s important for the global conversation around women’s entrepreneurship and broader workplace advancement.


By Ony Anukem




Globally, the conversation around women’s entrepreneurship is still heavily centred around opportunity creation in order to enable more women to join the entrepreneurial ranks. While this is important, once women have successfully started a business, there comes a time when they need to shift their focus to scale.

The Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) was born from a desire to create, support and nurture a community of High-Potential Women Entrepreneurs (HPWEs), while providing them with access to technology, networks and capital. By Dell’s definition, HPWEs are women entrepreneurs who are scaling and growing existing businesses with the potential to break through the $1 million (USD) mark in annual revenue. These women are at the heart of everything that DWEN does — they are committed to adding value to their members personally, professionally, and in business.

“When we invest in women, we invest in the future; communities prosper, economies thrive and the next generation leads with purpose,” says Karen Quintos (pictured above), EVP and chief customer officer at Dell Technologies.  

In partnership with IHS Markit, Dell launched the WE Cities Index in 2017 to benchmark and rate cities on their ability to attract and support HPWEs. The index analyzes and compares 50 cities on the impact of local policies, programs and characteristics in addition to national laws and customs to help improve support for women entrepreneurs and the overall economy. Two years later, they’ve re-ranked those cities to measure their progress and the new findings indicate positive change in all markets and a promising race to the top. Karen Campbell, Consulting Associate Director of IHS Markit explains “the 2019 Dell WE Cities report is unique from other bodies of research in that it not only ranks 50 global cities on their ability to foster women entrepreneurs, it shows how the cities have improved from their 2017 benchmark.”

The index assesses five key characteristics: Capital, Technology, Talent, Culture and Markets. These pillars are organized into two groups — operating environment and enabling environment. The overall rating is based on 71 indicators; 45 of which have a gender-based component. Individual indicators were weighted based on four criteria: relevance, quality of underlying data, uniqueness in the index and gender component.


“When we invest in women, we invest in the future; communities prosper, economies thrive and the next generation leads with purpose.” 


It’s reassuring to see that all 50 cities listed in the index have made progress since 2017, indicating that the women’s entrepreneurship landscape is heading in the right direction. “Technology is helping to drive this progress as a gender-neutral enabler,” says Amit Midha, president of Asia Pacific & Japan, Global Digital Cities at Dell Technologies, “help[ing to] create a level playing field.”

In the top 10 cities overall, six are in the US, three are in Europe, and one (Toronto, where we are headquartered) is in Canada. Quite unsurprisingly, the tech hub of the world, the San Francisco Bay Area, took the number one spot after being number two in 2017. “This year we can see some patterns emerging,” Karen Campbell says. “Ranked cities have collectively made the most improvement in the Capital and Culture pillars, which shows the importance of measuring not just the operating environment but also enabling environment for women entrepreneurs.”

One key reason that the San Francisco Bay Area was able to overtake New York for the number one spot this year is because the Bay Area is one of the best places for women to gain access to capital. Additionally, in the area of Culture, the city moved up from 6th to 2nd — helped by the fact that women role models in the Bay Area are more visible than ever, and there are multiple initiatives that are actually taking action and achieving results to create, sustain and scale women-founded and women-led businesses.  


“By arming city leaders and policymakers with actionable, data-driven research on the landscape for women entrepreneurs, we can collectively accelerate the success of women-owned businesses removing financial, cultural and political barriers.”


While it’s good to see that every city has made progress, we cannot afford to become complacent — there is still a lot of room for development. Out of a total of 100 possible points, the Bay Area only scored 63.7 points. “This data-driven approach shows where women entrepreneurs still face barriers in scaling their business,” states Karen Campbell. “It also validates the need for this kind of research and outreach to policymakers to improve the prospects for women founders.”  

 If we want to see big changes for women-owned businesses across the board, with cities hitting the 80+ point mark on the indices in the next few years, then we need buy-in at the international, national and local levels. Based on the findings and comparison between the 2017-2019 indices, Dell has developed a set of WE Cities Policy Recommendations focused on three areas, including:

  1. Access to and the development of financial and human capital.
  2. Private and public sectors role in increasing access to local and global networks and markets.
  3. How government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive in the changing face of technology.

It’s not enough to set a goal without assessing the current situation and incrementally measuring performance to make sure things are on track. Karen Quintos believes that “by arming city leaders and policymakers with actionable, data-driven research on the landscape for women entrepreneurs, we can collectively accelerate the success of women-owned businesses removing financial, cultural and political barriers.” Hopefully, this index will encourage cities to maintain and improve their rankings, and inspire other cities that aren’t currently featured to get on the list. 


Want to dig in deeper into the 2019 WE Cities Index or learn more about the work of Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network? You can find everything you need to know here.


Maximizing Potential: How Cisco and BDC are opening doors for women entrepreneurs



Women entrepreneurs represent just a small segment of business owners in Canada, but their numbers and impact are growing — and their potential is even greater. Cisco and the Business Development Bank of Canada have partnered to unlock it, using a unique internship program that’s now in its third successful year.


By Marie Moore



At first glance, the data is disappointing: just 16 per cent of Canadian businesses are majority women owned. They also tend to be smaller and earn less than those owned by men, based on 2014 data from Statistics Canada.

But the trend appears to be shifting. Today, 50 per cent of all new businesses are women-led, according to Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and the gap between earnings is steadily closing.

The lag that still remains is not due to a lack of ambition. Studies have found a greater proportion of women entrepreneurs plan to expand their business as compared to their male counterparts. Unfortunately, many women struggle to access the capital, technology, networks, and knowledge that they need for a successful expansion — or even to just get their business off the ground.

It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and not just for the benefit of entrepreneurial women.

“Women-led businesses are good for Canada. A small percent of all Canadian entrepreneurs are female, but we know that these female-led businesses not only boost Canada’s GDP, but also increase national well-being and competitiveness, improve women’s employability, empowerment, and gender equality,” says Rola Dagher, President, Cisco Canada. “Cisco is committed to helping women to become more successful entrepreneurs by addressing some of the barriers they face in building their IT capability and business resilience in this fast paced environment we live in today.”              

Having technical knowledge will not only help Canadian women entrepreneurs sustain and grow their footprint, but it can also level the playing field for entrepreneurs to compete with larger organizations. That’s why Cisco has partnered with like-minded organizations, including BDC, to work together to bridge this technology gap — using innovative and impactful initiatives.

Now in its third year, the Cisco Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle champions the success of Canadian women leading high-growth businesses by providing them with increased access to technology knowledge and resources. One of the key elements of this initiative is the Circle of Innovation program, which pairs engineering students from the University of Waterloo with women entrepreneurs to help build their organization’s digital strategy, scale and impact in the marketplace. BDC has been instrumental in identifying business owners for the program, which has seen 14 successful partnerships completed so far, with 12 more getting started in 2018.


“Having technical knowledge will not only help Canadian women entrepreneurs sustain and grow their footprint, but it can also level the playing field for entrepreneurs to compete with larger organizations.”


The 16-week program enables the intern and entrepreneur pairs to address key issues, from technical deployments and challenges to application development, systems administration and help desk functionality. Interns work from the new Cisco Innovation Centre in downtown Toronto, are given access to Cisco’s DevNet developer community, and are provided with Cisco engineer mentoring opportunities throughout. Entrepreneurs benefit from the sustained access to an IT expert — an invaluable resource that enables big picture solution-finding, innovation, and significant development.

“We want to help women entrepreneurs embrace technology and that is exactly what this is all about,” says Maggy Tawil, Assistant Vice President, Partnerships, BDC. “For a third year we are partnering with Cisco to offer this program to some of our women entrepreneur clients. We find it of great value that these entrepreneurs are able to receive in-depth advice for a whole summer from knowledgeable university interns as well as Cisco’s experts.”

The 2018 cohort of twelve women business owners represent industries ranging from fashion to environmental engineering. Each of the entrepreneurs are entering the program with their own unique challenges, and they’ll be looking to technology to help solve them.

Deborah Assaly, who participated in 2017, understood the benefits technology could have for her family business, Paramount Paper. She was paired with intern Deanna Danelon, who worked on creating a website for her new consumer division, a network refresh, and implementing cloud technology — a key goal of Deborah’s.

As Deborah said, “It’s definitely a competitive advantage. As a whole our industry is not very technology advanced. I was very excited to have this opportunity and be one of the first to have improved productivity through modernizing our overall structure with the cloud for internal use. This is sure to have a positive ripple effect to our customers and increase sales.”



The Cisco Women Entrepreneurs Circle addresses some of the obstacles female-led businesses face in building their tech capabilities. In partnership with organizations including the Business Development Bank of Canada, Cisco is connecting women to the expertise and knowledge needed for their entrepreneurial ventures to thrive. Are you a business owner? Fill in a short survey to register for the free virtual training from the Cisco Networking Academy, and kickstart your journey towards business success.



Study Reveals: Canada Country with 5th Highest % of Women in Tech



With gender disparity a topic at the forefront of modern discourse, leading technology career platform Honeypot, has released the 2018 Women in Tech Index. The results offer a view on gender-based employment inequalities both at large and in the technology sector. In an effort to position themselves as industry experts, the developer-focused career platform decided to research the role that gender parity plays in the technology landscape by comparing the proportion of female employees, gender wage gap and opportunities for women in the IT field, among other criteria. In sharing the results of this study, Honeypot aims to highlight which countries offer the best opportunities for women in tech and to encourage the industry at large to take further positive steps towards gender parity.

The study focuses on 41 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU), and offers comparable data relating to both the tech industry and the wage gap. The data covers areas such as:

Gender in the Overall Economy: factors such as percentage of women in work and the overall gender income parity.
Women in Tech: as measured by the number of women in IT positions compared to the overall numbers of people in tech.
Opportunities for Women in Tech: calculated by comparing the difference between the percentage share of women in the general workforce, and the percentage of women in the technology sector. In addition, the study took into account the percentage of female STEM graduates.
Tech Wage Gap: difference in gender wage gap between women working in the tech industry and the overall workforce at large.
Female Career Progression: as judged by the percentage of women in managerial and ministerial positions.

In order to pinpoint any potential barriers which might hinder a woman’s progression and to highlight the best opportunities for women, Honeypot also looked at the Gender Inequality Index. This analyses women’s reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation to conclude overall parity. To de

termine if equality has increased or decreased in recent history, they then calculated the difference between the current available wage gap data, as compared to five years previous.



“Gender parity in the workplace is not just an ethical or moral issue, but also an economic one: McKinsey found that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. As tech recruitment specialists, we are often confronted with the gender imbalances of the industry, which are fully exposed in this study.” says Emma Tracey, Co-Founder at Honeypot. “With the proportion of female tech workers remaining under 30% across the board, we hope that this study will enrich the conversation concerning equality in this industry and inspire more women to seek out opportunities in tech.”


View Honeypot’s interactive table to see how each country compares across a number of other measures, including percentage of female STEM graduates, Gender Inequality Index, and more.





Best Workplaces for Women in Canada 2018

Yesterday, Great Place to Work® Canada released its 2018 list of Best Workplaces™ for Women in Canada.

80% of each company’s score was based on female responses to the Trust Index, which covers all aspects of workplace trust. The other 20% was based on measures which include programs that make work-life balance easier (such as maternity/parental top-ups, daycare support, flexible scheduling, etc.) 

Interestingly, while many companies assume flexible schedules and generous family leave are key to attracting and retaining women, they’re not primary factors. In fact, it turns out women prefer companies that maximize human potential and give them access to decision-making 

“Organizations fostering a culture of empowerment and inclusion are more likely to get great perspectives from employees,” said Jose Tolovi Neto, CEO, Great Place to Work® Canada, “This results in lower turnover and more innovation.”

Of the companies listed, Astellas and Stryker are examples of workplaces that provide particularly good policies and support for working parents, as well as environments of inclusion. We’re also pleased to see our Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards sponsor, RBC, as one of the top places for women to work in Canada!

Check out the full list:

  • AbbVie
  • Adlib Software
  • Admiral Insurance
  • Adoxio Business Solutions Limited
  • Astellas Pharma Canada Inc.
  • Axonify
  • BlueDot Inc.
  • Ceridian
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Eagle Professional Resources Inc.
  • Edelman Public Relations Worldwide Canada
  • Flipp Corporation
  • Fuller Landau LLP
  • Gardiner Roberts LLP
  • Geotab
  • GroupeX Solutions
  • Indeed Canada Corp
  • IndustryBuilt Software
  • Intuit Canada
  • JOEY Restaurant Group
  • KFC (Canada Corp Office)
  • Kicking Horse Coffee
  • Klick Inc.
  • Knowledge First Financial
  • Kronos Incorporated
  • Lifeworks
  • LoyaltyOne Co.
  • Managing Matters
  • Mastercard Canada
  • Norima Consulting Inc.
  • Nulogy Corporation
  • Points International Ltd.
  • RBC
  • Resolver Inc.
  • Royal LePage Performance Realty
  • Salesforce
  • SaskCentral (Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan)
  • Simply Green Home Services Inc.
  • Sklar Wilton & Associates
  • Stryker
  •  The Ian Martin Group
  • The PEER Group Inc.
  • Traction On Demand
  • Ultimate Software
  • Urban Systems Ltd.
  •  Wave
  • Wealthsimple
  • Whirlpool Canada
  • Wynford/EventSimple



International Women’s Day 2018 Events in Canada



Across Canada, women’s networks, corporations, charities, educational institutions, government bodies, political parties, the media and beyond are celebrating International Women’s Day 2018. Join the movement to #PressforProgress at one of these events, or plan your own celebration! 



The Dinner Party featuring Arlene Dickinson (Burlington, ON, March 7 @ 5:30pm EST)  

The Dinner Party is a major fundraiser to raise awareness and support for three important charities: Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services Halton (SAVIS), Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan-Halton and Zonta International. All profits raised through ticket sales, silent auction and 50/50 draw are solely dedicated to supporting these three groups. Since inception, The Dinner Party has raised approximately $320,500.


Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce 2018 International Women’s Day (Coquitlam, BC, March 8 @ 11:00am PST)

Presented by TD Canada Trust, the afternoon event will connect, inspire, and empower all professionals in the room. Featuring guest speaker Fiona Forbes, host of Vancouver’s hit TV talk show, “THE RUSH.”


SHEfights II: #PressForProgress (Toronto, ON, March 10 @ 5:00pm EST)

SHEspars and Back Forward Kick present this Muaythai Ontario sanctioned all female amateur muaythai event in support of International Women’s Day.


International Women’s Day: keynote from Microsoft’s Vaz Rosario (Winnipeg, MB, March 8 @ 11:00am CST)

Part of ICTAM’s (Information and Communications Technologies Association of Manitoba) Women in Technology Series.


#TimesUp: A Dialogue on Women’s Equity in the Workplace, Politics & Society (Montreal, QC, March 8 @ 7:00am EST)

The Montreal Global Shapers hub, Forusgirls and JCCAC – Jeune chambre de commerce algérienne du Canada unite their forces to introduce a unite for a poignant discussion on women’s equity and the #TimesUp movement.


Leading with a Purpose: An International Women’s Day Lunch (Toronto, March 8 @ 12:00pm EST)

Attendees will be given the chance to network with extraordinary purpose-driven women from surrounding communities in support of this year’s IWD theme, #PressforProgress, a global advocacy and support movement for gender parity.


Women with Tech Taking Over the World by Volta Labs (Halifax, NS, March 8 @ 5:30pm AST)

The event will kickoff with a brief keynote given by Sreejata Chatterjee, co-founder of Leadsift, on the importance of having a co-founder. Sreejata will discuss how having a co-founder has assisted LeadSift in its growth, how to find the right co-founder, and her experience as a female founder. Following the address, we will open the floor to anyone who is interested in sharing their experiences and what they’re looking for in a co-founder.


“Flow and Goals” Yoga and Goal Setting by Lululemon (Toronto, ON, March 8 @ 7:00pm EST)

An evening of yoga, goal setting, female empowerment, and treats. The vinyasa flow yoga class (for all levels) will begin at 7:30pm, followed by a vision and goals workshop.


“Women Changing Lives” hosted by Family of Women Inc and Making Changes Association (Calgary, AB, March 8 @ 6:00pm MST)

In support of Family of Women Inc and Making Changes Association, the evening will include a guest speaker, a fashion show, and two musical performances.


International Women’s Day 2018 Concert (Red Deer, AB, March 8 @ 7:00pm MST)

Featuring Randi Boulton, Kimblery MacGregor, Amelie Patterson, Billi Zizi, Vissia, and Justine Vandergrift.


International Women’s Day: Pink Attitude 18 featuring Manjit Minhas (Brampton, ON, March 10 @ 6:30pm EST)

Pink Attitude Evolution celebrates women that shatter through barriers, while inspiring and empowering others to be prominent leaders regardless of age, gender, orientation, race, religion, or abilities. The event will feature Manjit Minhas, Co-founder & CEO, Minhas Breweries and Distilleries and Dragon on Dragons Den. 



Find more information and events on the International Women’s Day website.

How female CEOs are finding themselves on the edge of a cliff


Have you heard of the ‘glass cliff?’ Have you ever experienced it?

Have you ever fallen off it?

Yesterday, Freakonomics Radio, the podcast spin-off of the eponymous, best-selling book, continued their series called “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s” by examining the evidence for the glass cliff phenomenon, the ramifications of it, and some possible solutions.

While the concept of the glass ceiling has been widely recognized for some time, the idea of the glass cliff was introduced in the early 2000s by Michelle Ryan, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Exeter.

“The Times in London printed an article that was looking at how women were performing in the top companies on the London Stock Exchange,” Ryan explains. “Their conclusion was that women were wreaking havoc on company performance.”

The article reported that companies with more women on their boards tended to have a lower average annual share price than those companies that had fewer or no women at all. To Ryan and her colleague Alex Haslam, this didn’t make sense. So, they dug deeper.

“What we found was when companies had been doing poorly, when their share price had been declining, they then appointed women to their boards of directors.” So it seems a different problem was revealed — rather than women being the cause of poor performance, instead they were being selected because of the company’s poor performance.

Ryan’s analysis suggests that women are being set up to fail. And although the reason women are chosen under these circumstances is disputable — is it because no man will take these jobs? Or is it perhaps due to women being viewed as mothers, the ones we turn to in times of crisis? — the result is almost inevitably damaging to not only those that fall, but also the reputations of all female leaders.

Christy Glass, a professor of sociology at Utah State University, points to another potential explanation.

“We termed this the ‘savior effect,’” says Glass, referring to the fact that white women and people of color are significantly more likely than white men to be promoted C.E.O. to weakly performing firms. “In other words, the firm experimented with this nontraditional leader, perhaps trying to signal it was headed in a bold new direction, that it was aggressively going to address performance declines. And if that doesn’t happen, these leaders tend to be blamed and replaced…bringing in the white male, typical leader to then navigate the firm out of crisis.”


“White women and people of color are significantly more likely than white men to be promoted C.E.O. to weakly performing firms.”


For 14 years, Carol Bartz ran the software firm Autodesk. In 2009, she became C.E.O. of Yahoo!, which at one point was the world’s most popular web destination, with a market cap north of $110 billion. But by 2009, it was in rapid decline, losing search business, display-ad business, and faltering in the wake of a controversially rejected buyout offer from Microsoft. Yet, despite the bleak outlook, Bartz accepted the challenge of turning things around.

“The company was just beaten to the ground,” says Bartz. “And I really felt that I could help with that, and give us some air time to get back together.”

But in the wake of continued revenue plummets and a general lack of morale, after just two years, the Yahoo! board unceremoniously let Carol go — over the phone.

The highly competent and proven successful business leader was pushed off the glass cliff.

And the problem exists outside of the corporate world. In the U.S., women are more likely to have leadership positions in failing school districts, and are more likely to run in unwinnable political elections, as well as become leaders during times of political instability.

The empirical and anecdotal evidence is there. The question is: why is it happening? And what can we do to course-correct?


Hear more on episode 319 of Freakonomics Radio, “After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff”.

Alice Announces Close of First Financing Round

Alice (previously Circular Board), the world’s first machine learning business advisor and first digital accelerator, announced the close of its first significant equity-based funding round. In an era when inclusive entrepreneurship is a social and economic imperative, a diverse group of investors have put their money and time towards the only existing, scalable solution to business advisory. Signia Venture Partners led the $1 million seed round with participation from investors Jean Case, Sherpa Capital, Zehner LLC, Shatter Fund, Cathie Reid and Lovell Family Limited Partnership/Ann Lovell, president of Women Moving Millions.

Alice is also pleased to welcome Zaw Thet, partner at Signia, and Elizabeth Gore, entrepreneur in residence at Dell, to the Board of Directors. On the near-term horizon, Alice will also be announcing the addition of substantial non-equity capital to support the company’s growth trajectory.

While fulfilling a social mission, Alice is also committed to innovating technology that removes barriers and opens doors for entrepreneurs. “Advances in machine learning and AI are transforming the world around us. At Signia, we are particularly excited about Alice as a solution application to bias and sexism in business and in providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to build their companies faster and more efficiently than ever,” said Thet.

Deemed the “Siri for entrepreneurs” by media, Alice democratizes access to business solutions by connecting women and other underrepresented business owners to opportunities, knowledge and communities. Through the application of machine learning, Alice is also able to predict the unique needs of each founder and proactively recommend content to save them time and money and to accelerate growth. Since January 2016, the company has served thousands of woman-led companies from six continents, and its 268 accelerator alumni have raised more than $35 million in capital.

“At its core, Alice provides entrepreneurs with the tools, access to capital, advice and networks they need to succeed, regardless of where they come from or who they know,” said Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of Alice.

“Since the company began nearly two years ago, we have been fortunate to maintain a strong financial position through programming and partnerships with major organizations, like Dell Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Urban Decay, Kauffman Foundation, U.S. Small Business Administration and the United Nations Foundation. The close of this financing round allows us to double down on our growth strategy and reach more underserved entrepreneurs throughout the globe,” Rodz continued.


“Have you ever seen innovation wheresomeone didn’t take a risk?” –Jean Case


Women and minorities are the fastest growing segment of business owners, yet the statistics around their access to capital and influential networks are not aligned with their potential to contribute to economic growth. Alice aims to create a new playing field for these entrepreneurs, with the simultaneous opportunity to use emerging technology to reach a $3.5 trillion global market.

Investor Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation and Chairman of the National Geographic Society Board of Trustees, said about Alice, “Ensuring women founders and entrepreneurs of color have access to the same funding, networking and mentoring opportunities as traditional founders will strengthen our economy and make sure that anyone from anywhere has a fair shot at the American Dream. I am supporting Alice because it helps break down barriers and brings female entrepreneurs the tools they need to scale and succeed.”

Learn more about Alice at helloalice.com.




Confidence gap: survey shows young women don’t believe in their tech skills



The concept of “The Confidence Gap” is by no means a new conversation — there are many studies showing that, across all cultures, women are less self-assured than men. And success is as much based on confidence as it is competence. 

Adding to that body of evidence is a recent survey of more than 1,000 university students in the United Kingdom, focused specifically on their tech ability. Conducted by KPMG UK and independent market research company High Fliers, it identified a worrying crisis in confidence among young women with regards to their digital skills.

The poll found that only 37 percent of young women are confident they have the tech skills needed by today’s employers, compared with 57 percent of young men. This is despite scoring on a par with their male counterparts when assessed on digital skills such as data manipulation and use of social media.

There is further evidence that this lack of confidence could be putting many young women off applying for jobs: 73 per cent of female respondents said they have not considered a graduate job in technology. 

 Aidan Brennan, KPMG’s head of digital transformation, believes businesses need to adapt their recruitment processes to reflect this issue, ensuring the selection process isn’t biased towards “those who shout about their capability loudest.”

“The issue here isn’t around competency – far from it – but rather how businesses understand the underlying capability of an individual and how to unlock it,” says Brennan. “I think this research highlights the work that needs to be done to show the next generation that when it comes to a career in tech, gender isn’t part of the equation.”