2011 Techsplorer Event (Truro)
Harbr’s Building Code: Committed to Gender Parity
Harbr, a Nova Scotia-based tech start-up and Techsploration’s newest sponsor, merges two industries where women are typically underrepresented: technology and construction. As such, it’s pretty meaningful and incredibly rare for an organization in either sector to commit to complete gender parity. That’s right, 50 percent of Harbr’s team are women. For Dave Kim, Harbr’s Co-founder and CEO, this is a commitment the company aims to hold as it continues to grow from its current team of eight employees.
With two of the five Harbr co-founders being women, the importance of gender balance was pretty clear from the beginning and has always been effectively engrained in the company’s DNA. While hundreds of studies can back-up the assertion that diverse companies are more innovative, Harbr is living proof.
Dave believes that one of the most important aspects of enabling a diverse culture is the impact it has on understanding a customer’s problem, because it allows them to create more holistic solutions. “The differing perspectives of each team member has enabled us to solve problems more effectively, which means we’re able to build better products. You can’t innovate in one direction, that’s not how the world works,” says Dave.
For Sarah Pyke, Harbr’s VP of Marketing and one of their newest hires, knowing that gender parity was a priority for the organization made her feel more comfortable to join the team. According to Ashley Kielbratowski, Co-Founder and Head of Product Development, “It’s important for us to create an environment where everyone feels equal and supported. This is a belief that everyone in our company shares, and it’s a characteristic we look for in new employees.”
Ashley confirms that Harbr has also put significant effort in ensuring their job postings are as inclusive as possible and presented in a way that appeals to both women and men. Recognizing that women tend to only apply for positions where they meet every single qualification, Harbr’s postings are clear on what skillsets are required and incorporate inclusive messaging.
So how can other companies follow Harbr’s model for diversity? The entire team is in agreement that education on unconscious bias is key. “Managers, in particular, need to know that biases exist and then actively figure out what they can do to change them,” says Ashley.
While it’s too early to see whether or not Harbr’s customers are following with a similar building code for innovation, Dave and his team hope other organizations are inspired to follow-suit.
“Our balance feels normal. I think this is what happens when parity is part of your culture.”