Increasing Diversity in Local Tech and Media Organizations: Strategies from the Field

Panelists: Stephanie Little (HR Manager, Hubba), Rebecca Cohen-Palacios (Director, Pixelles/Game Developer, Ubisoft), Chris Bergeron (VP Content Experience, Cossette), Karl-André St-Victor (Director, Chalet Kent)

Moderator: Molly Kohli (Social Media Editor, CBC Montreal)

In response to a reported lack of data on diversity in the Canadian tech sector, Media@McGill invites local representatives from the areas of media, technology, gaming and publicity to address concrete actions taken towards making the workplace, as well as media representations, more inclusive. The panel is followed by a Q&A with the public and a small reception.

Free and open to the public.


Bios and abstracts:

Molly Kohli is the social media editor at CBC Montreal, focusing on impact-storytelling on social platforms in news and current affairs. She’s also been able to bring forward her love for all things digital as tech columnist on CBC Radio's All in a Weekend and CBC TV's Our Montreal.

At 16, Steph Little left formal education to join the world of work. Through her love of humans, she fell into HR and much later obtained her CHRL designation. Today, as an HR expert of 15 yrs, Steph works with Hubba, one of Canada's leading tech firms to keep their people and culture strong. Steph knows that diversity in any organization is crucial to its success and to its wellbeing and is among the strong voices and companies in tech advocating for better diversity and inclusion. In 2017, Steph developed a demographics survey framework that was open-sourced for organizations to use freely as a starting point toward understanding their teams, identifying their gaps and making improvements in their diversity and ways they keep diverse teams happy and engaged. With a committee she continues to oversee the evolution of this tool and additional free resources for encouraging diversity and inclusion in tech.

Chris Bergeron, VP of content experience at Cossette, holds more than 15 years of experience in multiplatform content production for various media and brands. Hooked on technology and current affairs, she has written nearly 2,000 articles on numerous subjects, published on all platforms. Her portfolio boasts an impressive number of clients, including Tourisme Montréal, C2-MTL, Société des Casinos du Québec, SAQ, STM, Nordstrom Rack US, Chevrolet, Destination Canada, McDonald’s Canada, Liberté and Vidéotron. She also managed the press room for Voir, one of the largest cultural magazines in Quebec, and was the cofounder of one of the first brand and social media content services in an agency.

Rebecca Cohen-Palacios is the co-founder and director of Pixelles (Montreal), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering more women-in-games through free programs, mentorship, and community love + support. She speaks often about diversity, community organizing, and empowerment through game-making. She also loves to teach accessible workshops, mentor others, and collaborate with other organizations to help make STEM a more welcoming place. Annually, Rebecca co-organizes the games unconference, Game Loop Montreal, which facilitates open discourse about game development, culture, and methodologies. Professionally, Rebecca is a hybrid UI artist/developer currently working on an unannounced title at Ubisoft Montreal. She’s shipped Assassin's Creed: Origins, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate and Shape Up (for Kinect). Before getting into game development, Rebecca spent six years designing user interfaces for apps, websites and digital experiences.

Abstract: Ripple Effect: How Pixelles & Other Grassroots Initiatives Drive Change Today
It’s no secret that the games industry has a problem with diversity. Quebec is no exception. Despite Quebec being the 5th largest hub for game development in the world, employing over 10,000 people, only 16% of employees on production teams are women. Industry surveys indicate that diversity is a growing priority for developers and studios, however, surveys also indicate that not much is being done [by studios] to actually increase diversity today. Grassroots, women-in-games initiatives such as Pixelles, which exist in spaces outside of studios, are driving change today through empowerment programs, mentorship and “radical” support. But despite the real and positive impacts of WIG programs, they often go unreported, unrecognized or forgotten by the very industry they've helped change in significant ways. This talk will explore, through Pixelles and the Montreal games industry, how grassroots diversity initiatives drive games industry and cultural change today, as well as how this impact creates a ripple effect into the future.

Karl-André St-Victor (Director, Chalet Kent)

Professionally, I spent some time in the world of finance and technology where I learned that I am more invested in community development in terms of effecting positive change. This led me to build a start-up whose raison d’être is to collaborate with brilliant minds to produce mobile literacy tools for emerging countries.

I’m also the Director of Chalet Kent, a non-for-profit organization located in the neighbourhood Côte-des-Neiges, where youth members and adults can actively work on creating a safer-space for youth between ages 11 and 18. Our mission is to create an inclusive environment built on the foundation of respect, critical thinking, and open communication. Chalet Kent is an extension of our diverse support system.

My purpose is to dream so I can inspire. I make the path visible by walking it.

However most notably, I am what I stand for, in my career as well as in my life as an individual, a father, a son, a partner and a friend.

Karl-André still doesn’t understand why a bio has to be written in the third person.

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