TechInColour wants to increase racial diversity in the Vancouver tech industry

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      The TechInColour community—a collection of individuals who aim to empower and create spaces for people of colour—is hosting a panel talk to help inspire individuals interested in the technology industry.

      The discussion will be held at Chinatown House (188 East Pender Street) on January 24, and is organized in collaboration with co-working space The Network Hub. The talk is targeted towards people of colour who want to join the Vancouver tech sector, as well as those already employed in the industry. While the event is POC-centered, all individuals are welcome, including HR personnel, recruiters, and managers of any race.

      “As a visible minority and a woman in tech, I have seen how the lack of diversity in the industry can be a real business and cultural problem,” says The Network Hub founder Minna Van, who has been in the tech business for 19 years. “TechInColour is a great initiative that champions diversity of colour in the workplace. It’s definitely one we want to support because it ensures technology reflects different communities, especially during the creation process.”

      Three speakers have been confirmed for the event:

      • Julia Conejero is a software engineer working in VR/XR, who emigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2009. She describes her journey into technology as a game tester for Electronic Arts Canada as more of an accident than a deliberate plan. Conejero currently works as a software test engineer for Experience Studio North, creating holographic solutions for firstline workers, professionals in construction, manufacturing, and manual labour.
      • Arvinder Singh is a data analyst and entrepreneur with over a decade of experience building scalable technology stacks. He occasionally ventures into design, higher education, linguistics and civil rights advocacy. Singh currently serves as co-founder and chief technology officer at Urbanlogiq, which helps governments build better communities through data analytics.
      • Sumeet Anand is an artist who dabbles in everything from user interface and user experience design (UX/UI) to illustrations and visual design. She is currently working as a Research Assistant at SFU, and recently interned at Facebook and Philips Lighting as a Product Designer. Anand is also the founder of Jalebi & Co.

      Increasing diversity in the technology industry is not just a social imperative, but also provides bigger profits. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies with more racially diverse leadership teams are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. Research has also determined that focusing on ethnic minorities opens up a much bigger talent pool—a particular concern in the employee-starved Vancouver—and offers businesses a broader global perspective and ability to solve problems more efficiently.

      “We started TechInColour because our tech community faces an ethnic diversity problem,” says April Alayon, organizer of TechInColour.According to HR Tech Group’s 2017 report, Diversity & Inclusion in the B.C. Tech Sector, less than 1 percent of the tech workforce [is comprised of] Indigenous Peoples, and there is no demographic data available on the representation of people of colour within Vancouver’s tech sector. We hope to bridge that statistical gap and to really offer a venue for people of colour to learn from others, be inspired, and be empowered to choose a career in tech.”

      Limited tickets are available now by donation through EventBrite, with a suggested value of $5. The organizers pledge that no one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds. All proceeds will be donated to Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidumt'en Territory GoFundMe page.

      Doors open at 6 p.m. and the panel will begin at 7 p.m. More information is available here.

      Kate Wilson is the Technology Editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays