Canadian Business Magazine: Why Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is right to talk about race


If your workforce is already diverse, as Schultz’s is (about 40% of Starbucks baristas are racial minorities), frank conversations about race serve as an organizational thermostat, giving employees an opportunity to express fears and concerns that might otherwise distract them from their work. Here in multicultural Canada, where we pride ourselves on being “colour-blind” and inclusive, incidents like last October’s vandalization of a mosque in Cold Lake, Alta., and a Montreal judge’s recent refusal to hear a woman’s case unless she removed her hijab have left many minority citizens concerned about their personal safety, says Saadia Muzaffar, a marketing director and founder of TechGirls Canada, an advocacy group for gender and racial diversity in tech. “I’d much rather see a company invest in this kind of forum rather than holding a ‘multicultural day,’ because those are a mirage for actual acceptance and celebration—a laughable way to say, ‘You have permission to be a caricature of yourself for one day. Enjoy!’”

Read the full article [here]



Motherboard @ Vice: Why Ellen Pao's Gender Discrimination Suit Matters


“Having this go through a public trial is important because not only do all of us get to bear witness, but it also becomes a cultural record. There is permanence and recognition attached to this because it is not transpiring in a murky fashion, behind closed doors, trapped between files and folders of negotiating lawyers,” explained Saadia Muzaffar, the founder of TechGirls Canada, an organization that encourages girls to pursue careers in tech. 

“But the fact that in 2015—after so much public outcry from women and people of color about harassment, discrimination, power and abuse—we still look to a court trial as the only yardstick to provide legitimacy to the lived experience of millions is downright shameful,” she said.

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Having a public record of the problems at KPCB will bolster discussions about ensuring equal treatment as the tech industry continues to boom. But, as Muzaffar pointed out, it's a bittersweet addition to the conversation.

"Yes, we need this," she told me. "But what a pity that we need it as badly as we do, given we are fully one half of humankind."

Read the full article [here]

Beyond Beyoncé: What feminism looks like in 2014 (video)

By Lauren Strapagiel

When Beyoncé stood silhouetted with the word “feminist” towering behind her in bold, white letters at the MTV Video Music Awards last summer, many were quick to proclaim: feminism is cool again.

Queen Bey wasn’t the only famous name to declare feminist allegiance. From Taylor Swift to Benedict Cumberbatch to Aziz Ansari, entertainment darlings are coming out of the feminist closet, so to speak, in droves. Combined with a loud, ongoing conversation about sexual assault, about rape culture, about the famous men who get away with hurting women, about women in video games, about #YesAllWomen, about abortion access in Canada, about the safety of transgender women, about Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel win — women have defined the zeitgeist of 2014.

It’s a curious proclamation to say the rights and well-being of half the population is having a “moment,” but here we are.

But here’s the rub: much of the mainstream conversation about women’s rights still circles around the inane questions of whether feminism is relevant, whether women are oppressed and whether the so-called f-word can overcome its alleged man-hating connotations. Even a segment on CBC’s The National last October asked (after obligatory images of birth control pill popping and singing 1960s protesters) centered on whether feminism is “a dirty word.”

Meanwhile, those interested in actually improving the lives of women are ready to move on.

The sort of feminism most talked about, most picked apart in the evening news, is one that was largely defined by a certain type of women: white, middle-class, straight, able-bodied and with enough clout to have her voice heard above the detractors. The voices of women of colour, transgender women, queer women, disabled women, indigenous women, poor women have been largely left out — but that’s changing.

One of the places where that change has been swift is on social media, where without the constraints of traditional platforms, diverse voices can connect. It’s where you’ll find tech entrepreneur Saadia Muzaffar, former Toronto mayoral candidate Morgan Baskin, writer Septembre Anderson, consultant Steph Guthrie, trans advocate Sophia Banks and Shameless magazine editor Sheila Sampath.

Postmedia spoke with these six women about what feminism means in 2014 and how it’s far more complicated than a simple label.


Diversity in Tech - Radio Segment & Podcast (American Public Media & NPR)

I found this radio segment interesting because it highlights a sense of pervasive disbelief about how diversity issues are being talked about in mainstream media.

Host Ben Johnson's question about naming benefits of diversity is one that many sector leaders ask too, but more so in a way that undermines it.

Diversity is good precisely because it DOESN'T bring a specific, quantitative, & limited value set with it. What it does is challenge assumptions.

Diversity forces innovation to snap out of becoming a claustrophobic, self-affirming, classist idea machine.

It seeds continuous improvement.

Diversity is meant to make everyone uncomfortable with complacency, with being yes-men, with being presumptuous & therefore myopic.

Diversity *delivers* on the promise everyone in tech sector is duping themselves into believing they're keeping:

Building Better Solutions.