MaRS releases Tech for All: Breaking Barriers in Toronto’s Innovation Community

TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2018 — Today, MaRS Discovery District (MaRS), North America’s largest urban innovation hub, released Tech for All. This survey-based report explores diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIBs) in Toronto’s tech sector.

In addition, MaRS launched the Tech for All Agreement, calling upon tech-sector employers to form an Inclusion Council, working together to foster DIBs strategies within their companies and across the industry.

Over the last six months, MaRS conducted focus groups with 110 Toronto tech-sector employers and 28 tech-sector employees, as well as interviews with 16 DIBs experts, and a survey with 456 Toronto tech-sector employees.

The study found that tech-sector employees vary widely in their feelings about the organizations they work for, and many people report barriers that prevent them from feeling fully included in their workplaces, particularly people from the LGBTQ+ community, people with a disability and Indigenous workers. Further, many women, Black people, young people and non-leaders reported lower levels of DIBs in their places of work.

“Toronto is North America’s fastest-growing market for tech jobs, and if we don’t do a better job of fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace, we won’t be able to realize our full potential,” says Lekan Olawoye, lead executive, talent development, MaRS. “This report clearly outlines how some marginalized groups feel excluded from the job market and at their places of work, and it should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to work more diligently on these issues. Fortunately, many companies, including MaRS, are taking this seriously and are starting to institute policies and technologies that are having a positive impact.”

Key Tech for All findings include:

  • Women were twice as likely to disagree that their organization is diverse or fosters belonging.
  • 66 per cent of Black employees reported that they had been subject to bias on one or more aspects of their identity, compared to 47 per cent of white employees.
  • Indigenous people felt significant racism exists at the workplace and contributes negatively towards feelings of inclusion and belonging.
  • Millennials were 1.7 times as likely to report that their organization isn’t diverse overall compared to their older peers. They also felt ageism exists at work, feeling older peers often disregard their points.
  • Those with a disability were 2.4 times more likely to disagree that their organization promotes belonging.
  • Those working at a small organization (one to 99 employees) were less likely to report they had been subjected to bias based on one or more aspects of their identity, compared to employees at medium (100 to 499 employees) and large (500+ employees) organizations.

How employers are responding
Tech for All found that employers generally understand the importance of DIBs but struggle to create shared organizational understanding. However, many employers are taking important steps to reduce bias in the workplace:

  • Employers are reimaging the hiring process to remove bias by experimenting with diverse hiring panels during interviews.
  • Employers are using tech solutions such as apps and AI recruitment tools to help build diverse and inclusive workplaces, and are engaging with underrepresented and marginalized communities like Venture Out and Ladies Learning Code.

To access the full report, visit this page. Tech for All is a follow-up to the January 2018 study, Talent Fuels Tech, which examines the challenges faced by workers and employers in Toronto’s tech ecosystem and how to boost the talent pool.

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. Our purpose is to help innovators change the world. MaRS supports promising ventures tackling key challenges in the health, cleantech, fintech and enterprise sectors as they start, grow and scale. In addition, the MaRS community fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration to drive breakthrough discoveries and new solutions to be adopted in Canada and beyond, growing our economy and delivering societal impact at scale.

Media contact
Corey Black
Communications Manager
MaRS Discovery District