How one Benevity-ite's volunteer efforts for helping women in tech became a workplace initiative
A few weeks ago, I came home from a meeting at Chic Geek (a Calgary-based community to support women interested in tech) and opened my laptop to find an email from Benevity’s CEO, Bryan de Lottinville. At first, I thought it was an office-wide notice. Then I saw my name alongside a handful of female leaders from different teams, whom I admire.
So I re-read the email carefully. Bryan asked us to put our heads together and see how we can partner with Chic Geek, the very same group that I volunteer with and had just returned from a meeting with! He explained how supporting Chic Geek aligned closely with Benevity's goals of improving our local tech-landscape, especially for women.
As I added my resounding yes to the thread of positive responses (and ideas already being tossed around), I let them know that my heart was swelling. A few happy tears tumbled down my cheeks, and a gigantic smile radiated from my face out into the universe.
I don't know if I can describe the feeling of one’s passion outside of work and one’s passion at work colliding. But I think that the "hugging face" emoticon is incredibly accurate.
Chic Geek is important to me because it is uniquely a beginner-friendly tech community. As someone who was looking to get into tech from an unrelated field, there was a lot of intimidation and lack of diverse representation in the tech space.
That’s where Chic Geek fills the gap — it provides programs for women in beginner level tech-skills, networking, speaker training, and mentorship. It’s a supportive community for beginners to ignite their curiosity in tech and not be turned away. Now, it’s a place that I come to learn, share, and to push my understanding of “possible” — many of the same reasons I get out of bed each day and go to work at Benevity.
To have the CEO initiate a collaboration with an incredible organization working tirelessly to improve diversity and support women in tech is very heart-warming, but honestly, not entirely surprising.
During my time at Benevity, I’ve already seen this company prove that supporting women in tech is more than a feel-good move, it’s also imperative as one of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies. And we are never fearful of taking those necessary, yet still brave steps to make a tangible difference.
This beautiful brick building is just bursting with the most talented people, who simply want to Do Good all day, every day, and are actually supported to do so.
In Canada, we’re lucky to get a one-year parental leave, but this can lead to challenges for women returning to work after an extended leave. To combat this, Benevity provides major incentives to empower women to return to work earlier, and to enable partners to take a shared parental leave. If leaving work for a full year scares you, like it does me, these programs make it easier to imagine myself as a working parent.
Benevity has provided me a light to shine within the Chic Geek community and beyond. It is a place for the quiet, the passionate, the quirky, the dreamers and believers, the do-gooders, and the curious.
And it’s right here in Calgary. Here’s to more folks being supported to bring their personal passions to the workplace — it’s possible!
Right now, only about 20% of technology workers worldwide are female. We went on a mission with Chic Geek to find out what’s holding women back from entering the field. Their answers may surprise you!