September 30, 2021
ventureLAB’s Innovation Space includes 50+ tech startups building successful national and international businesses that specialize in solving global problems with innovative technologies. We host regular workshops and events on business and skill development for founders and their teams. Learn more about ventureLAB’s Innovation Space.
Last month, ventureLAB’s Innovation Space hosted a two-part event series on how businesses can incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into their business models. Members of our Innovation Space had the opportunity to hear from successful founders on how their businesses thrive with inclusivity policies at their core. As members of ventureLAB’s Innovation Space, AIH Technology and Connexia.ai have been leveraging the benefits of an innovative and inclusive tech space to continue to champion diversity within every aspect of their respective businesses.
AIH Technology aims to help enterprise and government clients deploy ethical facial recognition applications in healthcare, community safety, and other services in ways that are respectful of privacy and individual rights. Their racially-inclusive Facial Recognition as a Service (FRaaS) API is specifically designed to address racial bias and is a critical component of their inclusive AI strategy. “At AIH, we are committed to the ethical and responsible application of AI, including building deep learning models and advanced machine learning techniques to improve racial inclusivity in facial recognition,” says AIH Technology Co-Founder Ben Su. “We’re working with community organizations in Canada and the United States, civil rights groups, defense attorneys, and more to study racial bias and implement Canada’s first guideline to overcoming racial bias in AI.”
Similarly, Connexa.ai Founder Maria Poonawala, has built inclusivity into her business by taking operational steps to create an environment that champions diversity. Connexa.ai helps businesses maintain a human connection with their customers through a contactless customer service platform while using machine learning technology to deliver real-time insights. “DE&I is the foundation of our organization – we don’t just hire with diversity in mind, we build our whole organization with it in mind,” says Poonawala. “It’s important to not only have diverse perspectives, but to listen to the perspectives.”
While inclusive business strategies are crucial to creating inclusive workplaces, Su and Poonawala acknowledge the systemic barriers still prevalent in making it more difficult for marginalized workers to enter the workforce. Still, small businesses can do their part. Poonawala advises companies to think about where diverse hires are looking for jobs, and matching that to where they post jobs. She says,“you need to be open to hiring people you don’t usually hire, people that might not look like you or express themselves in the same way as you do.” Su encourages founders to address their own internal biases, which can influence the hiring process. Job Boards dedicated to working with women or underrepresented workers, like Flik, can help companies find the perfect candidate for their business.
“Educate yourself on why diversity, equity, and inclusivity are important. Re-align yourself to those values. If you’re not committed, it shows. Inclusivity starts with the founder and influences the culture of the entire team.”
– Maria Poonawala, Connexa.AI
ventureLAB is working to create an equitable tech sector. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are ingrained in our core values, and we lead by example with a gender-balanced, diverse team with a deeply rooted performance-based culture. Last month’s event series provided a community of diverse founders a platform for strong discussion surrounding challenges, solutions, and pathways toward creating an inclusive and equitable tech sector.
Plug into an innovative tech community and meet the demands of the changing workforce. With opportunities for business and team development, collaboration, and networking, the Innovation Space is the place to grow your business and succeed. Learn more.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets. Join us.