Queer Tech Montreal Will Present at the Canada Pride Conference this Summer

Speaker Panel at the LGBTQ Human Rights Conference Targets Diversity in Tech

Montréal’s LGBTQ community will be in a flurry of activity this summer. In addition to hosting our annual Pride festivities, organizers selected Montréal as this year’s home for Canada Pride. The Canada Pride Montréal 2017 event will span ten days, comprising two full weekends of activities, including a major national conference on LGBT rights, happening from August 15 to 17.

The conference on LGBTTIQA2S Lives: Our Struggles, Our Victories, Our Challenges will be an opportunity to assess the state of LGBTTIQA2S rights in Canada. The conference’s main objective is to bring together community and cultural partners, university researchers as well as government representatives for an innovative and open discussion of important issues.
The conference will facilitate discussion, networking and learning about what has been done here in Québec and elsewhere in Canada to position ourselves to face the issues to come. In order to accurately raise the issues that most concern Canadian LGBTTIQA2S communities from sea to sea, these themes will be examined through a variety of cultural and identity-based perspectives.

Queer Tech Montréal, in collaboration with Queer Tech New York and IBM, jumped on the opportunity to represent our members at this prominent event. The scientific committee received 140 propositions and only 55 were chosen. WE GOT IN!

Check out our advocacy work we will present at the conference.

Summary of panel discussion (abstract submission)

LGBTQ professionals must fight to be leaders in tech: here’s how to win the battle

Technology will be the main driving force of our future economy. The ability to build a career in the tech industry will thus have a major impact on the economic wellbeing of professionals. So, how inclusive is the tech industry of historically ostracized populations within its professional ranks? Far from good!

This panel raises unease concerning the current exclusion of minority groups, specifically LGBTQ members, from the tech sector, and how we can bring greater diversity to the tech workforce. Our discussion provides an overview of how the panelists founded community organizations that promote the visibility, engagement and advocacy for Queer minorities (LGBTQ) in the technology-startup industries. From our advocacy work, we provide first-hand accounts of the challenges LGBTQ professionals face in terms of discrimination, exclusion and isolation within the typical tech sector workplace. Merging our knowledge gained from community activism with current strategies for promoting diversity in the workforce, we outline policies to counter the endemic ‘bro culture’ in technology professions. Central to our proposals are concrete examples of how professionals in human resources, government and the tech sector can improve hiring practices and uphold inclusive work environments. Our duty to change the face of the tech sector is more than a question of social justice; repeated studies show that promoting diversity in the workforce drives cutting-edge innovation and offers a competitive advantage to companies.

It seems unthinkable that an industry like tech, with its forward vision, rapid innovation and educated workforce, would have a professional body vastly outnumbered with cis-gendered, hetero, white, young males. This is an inconvenient truth, and many prominent leaders in tech have criticized the lack of women, visible minorities, and disabled people as tech professionals; such criticisms have only recently included the concerns of LGBTQ minorities. Despite awareness and initiatives to promote diversity in tech, studies show a regression in diversity measures for the tech industry. The time is now to figure out what we are doing wrong and how we can implement impactful strategies to include minorities within this vital economic sector.

Speaker Biographies

Naoufel Testaouni

Naoufel Testaouni is the founder and President of Queer Tech Montreal, as well as the Executive Director of Montreal New Tech, a leading organization representing the startup tech ecosystem of Montreal. He is a Canadian Delegate for the 2017 G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance conference in Berlin. Following an international career in the tech sector, he now is Director of Global Partnerships at Local Logic, a Montreal tech startup company. Naoufel’s volunteer work has helped raise Montreal’s global reputation as a leading center for tech startups and innovation.

Jason Behrmann

Jason Behrmann is Vice-President and Chief of Communications for Queer Tech Montreal. Now a communications strategist in science and technology, he completed his doctorate in biomedical science from the Universté de Montréal and a post-doctorate at McGill. His research focused on assessing the social and ethical implications of technologies in healthcare for LGBTQ populations and Queer rights in medicine. His research is published in prominent journals such as the Canadian Medical Association Journal and The American Journal of Bioethics.

Andy Saldaña

Andy Saldaña occupies a pivotal leadership role in the inception and daily operations of prominent community groups for the tech startup sector in New York City, including Queer Tech New York and the New York Tech Alliance. As the Director of Operations for NY Tech Meetup (NYTM), he oversees this non-profit organization that has grown to the largest Meetup group in the world with over 46,000 members and a mission to build a more sustainable and inclusive technology industry for all New Yorkers. He is well-recognized for his advocacy work that aims to promote diversity in the tech sector.

Kimberley Messer

With over a decade’s experience in the tech sector, Kimberley Messer is the North America Business Development Executive at IBM Canada. As member of the Global LGBT/Diversity Business Development organization, she advises customers worldwide on how to address LGBT/Diversity and human capital as strategic business drivers to improve workforce effectiveness, foster collaboration, and stimulate innovation. As a member of Pride at Work Canada’s National Women’s Committee, she helped establish a national mentoring program for LGBTQ minorities in the labour force.