International Women’s Day 2022 was a chance for our innovation economy to reflect, revise, and make equity-driven changes that will have an eternal impact on the women in our community. This month, we reflect on the history of women’s equality, continue to be introspective about the systemic inequalities of women in today’s world, and work collectively towards the goal of true equity, diversity, and inclusion in our future. This year’s International Women’s Day theme was #BreakTheBias, a spotlight on the biases and barriers that exist in our society and perpetuate inequality for women. In our world of work, technology, and innovation, these biases continue to affect working women through systemic inequalities that have historically been hard to overcome. Women are much less likely to be hired, promoted, and recognized in the technology sector, with predominantly male coworkers, management, and systems that uphold these inequities, whether they intend to or not. On International Women’s Day (and every day after that), we continue to work towards a world that is truly free of bias and elevate the potential within our ecosystem to become equitable and diverse on all levels, across all specialties. Collectively, we can all #BreakTheBias.
According to the Women in Communications and Technology Up the Numbers Report (2020), only 31.3% of information and communications technology (ICT) roles are fulfilled by women. Going further up the chain, they also found that 16% of Canadian ICT firms reported no women in senior management (that’s 16% too many), and only 4% of Canada’s largest technology companies have women CEOs. Working towards the day that equity, diversity, and inclusion are lived values in every system, team, and corporation, these statistics help us understand how far we still have to come.
In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, we highlight impressive female founders who have overcome great obstacles and succeeded in our innovative ecosystem as underrepresented but valued, integral individuals. Keep an eye out for these women-led ventures:
Jenessa Olsen and Madison De Souza – In the ClearZone
Jenessa Olsen and Madison De Souza are an incredible sister duo, founding In the ClearZone in April 2020 with a mission to make businesses safe with their environmentally and economically sustainable air purification products. Created with a goal to positively impact our environment while caring for the health and safety of others, their innovation came at a time when the global Covid-19 pandemic impacted businesses and our environment in ways nobody would have anticipated. Their quick pivot and intelligent innovation brought improvement to indoor air quality, which in turn brought improvement into the lives of those impacted by their innovations and inspirational founding story.
Visit www.clearzone.ca to learn more.
Dallas Barnes – Reya Health
A female founder focused on women’s health and wellness is the epitome of what International Women’s Day means to our innovation economy. Barnes is the young founder who built Reya Health, an application for birth control users to find the right birth control options and track their experience, all while creating a community for women to communicate and learn about birth control, women’s health, and more. Cultivating a safe space for women to speak up, learn about their bodies, and share their experiences, Reya Health is an innovative and extraordinary feat by women, for women.
Visit www.reyahealth.ca to learn more.
Erika Oakes – Os & Oakes
With a deep understanding of what it takes to be a good mom, a good boss, and a good entrepreneur, Erika Oakes founded the boutique online and in-store shopping experience that is Os & Oakes. Garnering an influential social media community and die-hard customer base, Oakes took personal connections and networking to the next level to curate her clothing line and family brand. Inspired by her two children, she created a brand that represents herself, her style, and what she needed as a mother and couldn’t find. This created a community of other women who looked to Os & Oakes for quality products and a comfortable space to connect, shop, and share online (and now in store!)
Visit www.osandoakes.com or shop in-store at 526 Adelaide Street North, London.
Nadia Ladak, Simone Godbout, Kiara Botha, and Harit Sohal – Marlow
In an impressive and inspiring example of women uplifting and working towards the success of each other, Marlow’s four female founders are people that our Southwestern Ontario’s vibrant technology and innovation ecosystem are beamingly proud of. The founders at Marlow created a one-stop-shop for sexual wellness and menstrual health, starting with their ingenious innovation of lubricated, organic tampons. Their social media community base was born on the beliefs of inclusion, openness, and empowerment, which has driven their venture to success, funding, and exciting growth. The four Marlow founders are a breath of fresh air to the technology world, taking great strides towards equity, diversity, and inclusion in every step of their venture.
Visit www.wearemarlow.com to learn more.
Emily Mercy – GoParity
As the Founder and Managing Director at GoParity, Emily Mercy is making an impact on the world of innovations and investments, navigating innovation in a field that is predominantly white and male. GoParity is an impact investment platform and game-changing innovation, connecting companies looking to finance their projects with individuals who want to invest sustainably. Growing a world-class community of investors and creating a buzz around her business, Mercy is a proud representation of Southwestern Ontario’s female founders, innovators, and women in information and communication technology.
Visit www.goparity.com to learn more.
Alana Lees – BOOM InterTribal
A leader in development, community advocacy, and creative solutions, Alana Lees inspires action and creates awareness through brand strategy, marketing, and communications at BOOM InterTribal, a full-service marketing and communications agency that she co-founded. As an Indigenous owned business, BOOM InterTrbal works and connects with all worlds, possessing a deep understanding and lived knowledge of building some of the world’s most iconic brands. Creating a space for people to learn and understand others’ values, traditions, experiences, challenges, and ways of life, Lees does important work in cultivating strong communities.
Visit www.boomintertribal.com to learn more.
Breaking the Bias, shattering the glass ceiling, and making our vibrant innovation economy proud, we celebrate and recognize these incredible women founders in our region for the work they do, today and every day, for equity, diversity, and inclusion in our ecosystem.