Diversity in technology is an issue that has gained visibility over the last few years, and with good reason—when it comes to Canada, only five per cent of companies have a solo woman founder, according to a #movethedial report. That number is slowly increasing, but it can always move faster.
L’Oréal Canada is doing their part to keep trending in the right direction with the first Canadian edition of their Women in Digital program, in partnership with URelles and Campus InfoPresse. The new initiative focuses on promoting women entrepreneurs by offering funding as well as a deep network of mentorship and support. In total, the winner will bring home $20,000 to help fund their company.
The idea for the program actually came from the shocking numbers in the #movethedial study, showing how truly underrepresented women are in the technology industry. Over half of Canada’s tech firms have no women in executive roles, and 73 per cent of companies do not have women on their board of directors.
“L’Oréal Canada is an important subsidiary for the L’Oréal Group in terms of digital innovation,” says Frank Kollmar, president and CEO of L’Oréal Canada. “Knowing that women are underrepresented in this field, it seemed natural to do our part, as we have been for the last 16 years with our L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards. We are proud to once again be part of the solution by offering funding and support to women entrepreneurs. By ensuring there is a large number of role models, we can stimulate careers and leadership in business for women.”
The Women in Digital program has three stages: nominations, preselection and final selection. The winner will be announced at a gala in May 2019. In order to make it there, nominees must be selected by three industry experts as part of the preselection committee, then the final selection will be guided by four Canadian tech personalities and one L’Oréal Canada executive. The preselection committee will be revealed later this month.
L’Oréal Canada is seeking a “female founder of a Canadian start-up in the tech and digital fields, who has the potential to revolutionize the digital sphere.” The winner will receive a tailored training program from Campus InfoPresse as well as mentorship form a jury member, and, of course, the $20,000. The personal care company has long had their pulse on the Canadian innovation scene, recently acquiring Toronto fashion AR startup ModiFace.
“Women entrepreneurs don’t have access to the same funding as men,” says Chloé Freslon, founder of URelles. “This type of financial incentive is needed to rebalance things. I’m happy to know that some women will be able to grow their business thanks to this helping hand.”
Applications for the Women in Digital program close on February 28 so make sure to apply now.
Techvibes is a media partner of the L’Oréal Canada Women in Digital program.