Fast 50 Survey: Talent and Gender Diversity Still Pose Problems

Deloitte has unveiled their 20th annual Technology Fast 50 list, detailing some of the most innovative and fastest-growing companies in Canada. Along with the list, Deloitte also surveyed CEOs from top growth companies, asking about labour markets, AI, and increases in capital.

One of the major findings from the survey showed that the workforces of these industry-leading companies are rapidly shifting. The majority of employees—53 per cent—in Fast 50 companies are millennials, born between 1981 and 2001. On the gender diversity side of things, the representation of women is growing, as a quarter of the companies indicated that 21 to 30 per cent of their new hires are women. This figure is still low, but a huge increase over the 13 per cent reported in 2016.

A recent #movethedial study about gender diversity in the tech workplace echoed these numbers, showing that although the representation of women in the sector is low, a few small surveys are indicating trends are moving in the right direction.

The labour market remains one of the greatest challenges faced by Fast 50 companies, as 47 per cent of the responding businesses indicated that the hardest challenge is finding the right talent to hire. An October report from Hired outlined the 10 most attractive companies in Canada to work for, but only two companies in that list (Shopify and Wave) appear on the Fast 50.

AI’s pervasive growth was also outlined in the survey, as every single company noted that they are using either the same amount or more AI then they were a few years ago. Machine learning is the most common form of AI being used, with 49 per cent of companies using it in one form or another. Natural language processing and computer vision followed suit at 40 and 28 per cent respectively.

“AI technology enables machines to think and work as humans do and has the potential to make an impact across various domains,” reads the release. “60 per cent of respondents leverage AI and cognitive technologies to augment the company by working faster and with more flexibility rather than replacing employees.”

Access to capital has also improved over the years, with 62 per cent of Fast 50 companies surveyed believing avenues to funding has increased. In the period since 2012, however, that number falls to 47 when referencing Canadian sources of capital, and rises to 64 per cent for U.S. capital.