Tony Brijpaul is co-founder of Miovision and passionate about diversity within his company. I was really happy he could join us for Change The Ratio Waterloo Region, as a representative of our local startup tech community (although they just celebrated their 10th anniversary!) and a male business leader standing up for women. In this short Q&A Tony shares some of the thinking and actions at Miovision to counter bias and create an inclusive work environment, and how it came to be his personal passion.
How did you become personally invested in getting more women into tech and creating a welcoming work environment?
I first really started thinking about the topic of women in technology and science when I became a father. My daughter Ella is a year and a half, and like any Dad I already envision that she is going to be an Engineer someday, and maybe even start her own tech company. I’ve wondered though, if that’s going to be possible? As a woman, will she be encouraged to study math and science, or have the entrepreneurial role models that I had?
My wife is an Accountant and has a very successful career of her own. She has encouraged me to be more than just a role model for my daughter. She inspired me to take a stand on this topic and to use my position of leadership to influence inclusive practices at Miovision.
I will always strive to be a role model by setting a good example and supporting my daughter in any career she wants to pursue, but I also have a responsibility to extend that support to the current and future women at Miovision. Life and career should be dictated by passion, education and experience, not gender.
How do you wish to influence and change your own workplace culture?
We are currently focusing on a lot of different ways to build a meritocracy at Miovision, as it is a key focus for us as we continue to grow our company and evolve our culture. An example of this would be the recent launch of unlimited vacation as it shows that we respect and trust our employees. Understanding however, that unconscious biases often influence who we believe “people of merit” to be. We need to work on changing those unconscious biases within our own culture by simply accepting the fact that they do exist and educating people on it.
The large tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have been tracking their hiring stats on men/women, caucasians/visible minorities — is this something you are looking at doing at Miovision or as a young company how do you approach diversity?
Yes, we do track stats internally. We are currently looking at our women vs men ratio and trying to dig a little deeper on how we as a company can attract more women to be excited to want to come and work for us. We have a diversity committee which I am part of and we have a goal of hiring more women into Miovision, specifically in Sales and Engineering. Our goal is, and has always been, to hire the best of the best, no matter what gender or ethnicity. We know there are brilliant women Engineers and Developers out there and we want them to come work for us. Apply within!
How have you addressed the issue of gender and ethnic bias with your peers? How do you start that conversation?
Yes, I think all people have had to deal with this at some point in time. People need to be educated about their biases – whether unconscious or not. Addressing these issues head on, no matter how difficult, has to be done to maintain a comfortable and welcoming environment for all employees. We are very adamant about implementing and adhering to all of the appropriate employee training to avoid these issues, but if and when they come up, it is dealt with immediately.
You can hear more from Tony, including some of his personal stories, at Change the Ratio Waterloo Region March 10th. We’d especially appreciate more men coming to support their women colleagues — Register today!