Women in tech platform Toast is popping up
Plus, seven other stories you may have missed.
Welcome to this week's Sunday Briefing. In this issue, dig into a new community for women in tech, read about a partnership between Olds College and the Calgary Board of Education, and learn about technology being used by NASA that could reduce oilsands emissions. Have a great day. As usual, we'll see you again Thursday.
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Toast co-founder April Hicke
Last year, April Hicke found herself at a crossroads. She was the director of digital product operations at ATB Financial, and from an external perspective, objectively a success in her career. But internally, Hicke felt like she had reached a plateau.
She was working with organizations to support women in leadership and tech and felt drawn to commit herself to do that work full-time – so she quit her job last summer.
Soon after that day, Hicke and a friend – and an eventual startup co-founder – met to discuss an idea for a company. As Hicke recalled later, they asked themselves, “Why don't we have a community for women? And why don't we have a talent partner that's actually only looking for organizations that really value gender diversity, and making sure that women are working in these really supportive environments?”
Launched officially last week, Toast is a collective that connects mission-driven organizations to a vetted membership base of talented women tech workers.
How it works
Women join Toast’s community, which provides events, workshops, support, and of course, job opportunities. The community has a Slack channel, which a $29 fee enables access to as part of membership. Members also gain access to other benefits including Toast’s in-house lawyer who will answer questions – which can be asked anonymously – related to employment and other topics.
Companies looking for a women-focused talent partner can work with Toast in order to be introduced to women to meet their hiring needs. Toast is currently backed by the federal government to aid organizations looking to increase gender diversity as part of their ESG reporting, Hicke explained. As part of its work, Toast doesn’t just send over resumes, though – in fact, Hicke’s team won’t send over resumes at all. They’ve intentionally worked with early clients to place candidates based on factors other than typical ones like years of experience.
“The big piece for me is removing bias in the hiring process,” Hicke shared. One of the ways Toast accomplishes this is by creating candidate avatars and withholding names at first. “Resumes that show years of experience – we omit those – as research has shown, it's not a strong indicator of success in a role,” Hicke explained.
Tech Ladies, a similar company to Toast in the US, was bootstrapped to millions in revenue and a billion-dollar valuation. Hicke has similar plans for Toast, and if the last few months and weeks are any indication, the sky is the limit. Pre-launch Toast had upwards of 15 companies knocking on its door to partner and more than 2,000 women on its community waitlist. The company is working with local innovators like AltaML and is partnering with organizations like Technology Helps. In addition, Hicke herself was recently nominated for the DMZ Women of the Year award which honours inspirational women from the Canadian tech ecosystem.
Commenting on Toast's advancements over the past half-year, Hicke enthused, "I'm just hanging on tight to this rocket."
🤝 Funding, Deals + Partnerships
Olds College partners with Calgary Board of Education to launch AgTech program. Eva Ferguson / Calgary Herald
📰 News To Know
Technology from Calgary's Impossible Sensing Energy is being used by NASA on Mars and could reduce emissions from Canada's oilsands. Amanda Stephenson / CBC
Why a solar energy company has its eye on a chunk of farmland in Brooks, Alberta. Taylor Simmons / CBC
Beyond a game: Calgary looks to score millions with esports tournaments. Josh Aldrich / Calgary Herald
The University of Calgary opens Mathison Hall, a new business school building. Melissa / Gilligan
Learn About the Science of Hockey at Telus Spark. Chris Landry / Avenue Calgary
📊 By The Numbers
3.1 percent – Growth of the Calgary metropolitan area between July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, the 13th-highest such rate across Canada.