#ATP22: The Unicorn Culture and DEI

DEI is crucial for organizations of all sizes, not just small businesses. Watch The Unicorn Culture and DEI, featuring Seema Lakhani (Chief Product Officer @ Wattpad), Paula Calderon (then National Director Client Success @ Windmill Microlending), and Nouhaila Chelkhaoui (Founder and CEO @ Scale Without Borders), who show us how having a DEI strategy benefits everyone on the team from product to development; the more diversity of thought, the more innovation, the more revenue, and the more impact.


"The most successful employers for diversity, equity, and inclusion are actually very active in participating with these organizations that are supporting newcomers or that are supporting racialized people and women or different initiatives out there in the community." – Paula Calderon (then National Director Client Success @ Windmill Microlending)

Key takeaways from the session:

  1. Setting a positive tone helps your organization build an engaging community.
    Strong content and conduct policies strengthen this further: “Don’t debate, delete”. (Seema Lakhani)
  2. If you really want to make systemic change, you must look at the whole system, not just at the hiring level.
    This can be augmented by working with partner organizations that have existing experience supporting systemic change. (Paula Calderon)
  3. Understand that newcomers bring different cultures.
    Breaking a cultural norm that you’re used to is rarely a negative reflection on a newcomer, but simply comes from their lived experience. (Nouhaila Chelkhaoui)
  4. You can’t lump different groups into one DEI ‘bucket.’
    You need a strategy that is holistic and intersectional. Barriers that women face are totally different from those that black folks face, and each of those groups have their own barriers within them, too. (Nouhaila Chelkhaoui)


About All Things People: 

All Things People is Venture for Canada’s annual conference. The 2023 conference took place on April 4, 2023, at Toronto Metropolitan University, with the theme of unlocking the potential of multigenerational teams.

All Things People 2023 aimed to break down generational stereotypes and provide actionable insights or tools to managers and leaders through workshops, keynotes and stage talks. The conference featured 40+ industry speakers and experts, like Hamza Khan, Future of Work expert and author of Leadership, Reinvented, and Jenn Harper, Founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty.

The first All Things People was hosted virtually in March 2022, and had nearly 300 attendees. Focused on implementing diversity, equity and inclusion best practices at startups, over 40 speakers hosted workshops, keynotes and networking sessions.

To learn more, visit our All Things People website.

About Venture for Canada: 

Venture for Canada is a national charity focused on accelerating the careers of Canadian youth through immersive opportunities at innovative startups and small businesses. Through our three core programs—Intrapreneurship, Internship, and Fellowship—young Canadians gain the skills, experience, and networks they need to lead more entrepreneurial and impactful careers. In 2022, Venture for Canada supported over 1,000 startups and small businesses across Canada to hire entrepreneurial young Canadians. 

To learn more, read our 2022 Impact Report.

Jonathan Hutchinson Jonathan brings experience in IT project management, particularly for non-profits, and a...