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Empowering women in tech one executive lunch at a time

Earlier this year, we held a large meeting at DevFacto with around 20 attendees in our main conference room. Our CEO, Chris Izquierdo, was running a little late and joined us a few minutes after the start of the meeting. As he walked into the room filling it with his larger than life personality, he looked around and declared with much surprise, “Wow, all dudes!” Up until that moment, I hadn’t even realized that the only woman in the room was me.

To be honest, has he not mentioned it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this at all. I have been in the IT consulting industry long enough to get used to having few women around. However, Chris’ remark got me thinking about my team and the rest of the women at DevFacto. How did they feel about being the only females in a meeting? How did it affect their experience at DevFacto? Could we be missing important insights because they weren’t in that room? It was clear that, as female DevFactonians, we needed a forum to share our experiences – one where we could learn from each other, encourage each other and to push each other to be drivers of change. With that, an idea for Women at DevFacto was born.

Our group was very informal at the beginning, with get-togethers at somewhat loud restaurants and an agenda that two good friends of mine – who also happened to be two of the wiser businesswomen I know – helped me put together based on their experiences. After a couple of meetings, our group has evolved into a Women at Devfacto Series, with female leaders coming to our offices to share their insights with us. The first guest we hosted was Kelli Littlechilds, CEO of Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP), whose visit was a smashing success because of her candor, warmth, and willingness to share her learnings from more than 30 years working in the health benefits industry. We left that meeting reenergized, excited and ready to immediately start planning our next session. The positive energy was so contagious that several of our male colleagues (including the CEO) stopped by to say, “I will put you in touch with so-and-so – she would be a great guest for the Women at DevFacto Series.” Suffice to say, the outlook for our group is fantastic.

Today, women make up slightly over 20% of our team at DevFacto, which is a huge step from where we were five years ago, or even at the beginning of this year. We continue to recruit and hire amazing women and men to join our company, and we are already planning what the Women at DevFacto Series will look like in 2019. There is still plenty to be done, but one of the things that makes me most proud of DevFacto is that we truly live out our company values always remembering to care for our team and to constantly keep improving. Women at DevFacto group is certainly a proof of that.