Tech for All: Breaking Barriers in Toronto’s Innovation Community


Tech for All: Breaking Barriers in Toronto’s Innovation Community

2 years ago 2 years ago Published by
This report was published by MaRS Discovery District.


Toronto’s tech sector is primed to shine in today’s innovation economy. But in order for it to tap into the talent it will need to succeed and drive global performance, employers must look at how its diversity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives are feeding into their overall strategy.

This report presents MaRS research results on the state of diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs) in Toronto’s tech sector. The report aims to shed light on the challenges companies face in attracting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent, and to provide data on how workers feel about the state of DIBs in their workplaces.

MaRS undertook a comprehensive research study that included conducting focus groups with 110 Toronto tech-sector employers and 28 tech-sector employees, interviews with 16 DIBs experts, and a survey with 456 Toronto tech-sector employees.

The survey found that tech-sector employees vary widely in their feelings about the organizations where they work. Unfortunately, many women, Black people, young people, and non-leaders in our organizations reported lower levels of DIBs in their workplaces. In addition to these groups, many people from the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and Indigenous workers who participated in our focus groups and interviews reported facing troubling barriers that prevent them from feeling fully included and that they belong in their workplaces. Overall, employees are struggling to understand some DIBs topics and are looking to their employers to help them prioritize DIBs in their workplace.

The good news is that employers want to change this reality: they want to engage in DIBs initiatives and many are already engaged in this work. However, many others reported that they didn’t know how or where to start. A lack of knowledge, fear of doing the “wrong” thing, the speed of growth in the tech sector, and employee backlash all prove to be barriers for employers. This is a problem. Organizations in the tech sector need to come together to support each other; we need to work together to take on the innovation challenges that will propel our region forward.

The organizations who have started this journey with MaRS have signed on to the Tech for All Agreement, indicating their desire to form a Toronto region tech-sector Inclusion Council. We encourage and welcome other members of the tech community to sign on to this Agreement and join us to truly make Tech for All.

Pogue, M., & Olawoye, L. (2018). Tech for All: Breaking Barriers in Toronto’s Innovation Community. MaRS Discovery District.

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