Why does it matter? For Steve Woods, Google’s Senior Engineering Director, it’s a solid business strategy. He should know, Google in Canada has been awarded best workplace in Canada five consecutive years (2011-2015).
On June 17, I attended a Communitech session called Great people build great companies. Woods shared that to stay competitive, businesses need diversity because sustainable companies are grounded in diverse ideas. His presentation was impressive and it was obvious that he deeply cares.
At Google, to make sure that they have the right people and to encourage diversity they have a number of tactics that they use. And by no means did Woods suggest that they’re as diverse as they should be, but it’s something they're working on. One interesting comment he made about hiring is that many of the successful people at Google had an interview where not everyone on the panel agreed that this person would make a good hire at Google. In fact, they were the ones where one person on the panel was a strong supporter and another was a strong detractor. We can’t always trust what we all like.
Why? Because as Woods emphasized, we all have biases. The first step to making progress is to recognize them. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve created an equity and inclusion committee here at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). We’re working to build an even better community than we already have here at IQC.
One of the first items we’re tackling is the development of a Guidelines document for all IQC members to set expectations, explain some of the university policies, such as Policy 33, in easy-to-understand terms and provide resources. Suprisingly, nothing like this exists on campus so we’re connecting with groups across campus including the Equity Office, Human Resources, Diana Parry, the Special Advisor to the President, Women’s and Gender Issues and campus police.
There may be some changes in the future Orientation program based on the Guidelines document – all in the effort to be a diverse and inclusive community. Also, next April the American Physical Society (APS) will visit us to review IQC’s practices and inform faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students. It is one step towards building a diverse community.
Meanwhile, we’re continuing support of the FemPhys group and encourage you to attend one of their Tea and Talks or one of the many public talks that they host. We’ve hosted two of those talks here and I encourage all IQC members, in particular faculty, to watch the videos of those two talks:
- Carla Fehr – Women in science: Climate and career success
- Christine Logel – Social psychology explains the reality of being a woman in STEM
Send me comments that will help make IQC a model to attract a diverse membership and remain a world-class, innovative research centre.