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OpenText’s delegation to the 2015 Grace Hopper Conference, including Marie-Eve Racicot (second from left), came away inspired to mentor the next generation of women in technology.

Technology – not only does it touch every aspect of our lives, but its relevance in today's society is growing exponentially. As an industry with applications across sectors, technology offers a wealth of opportunities for development and employment. Yet it is an area where the percentage of women's representation in the labour force remains low. And fewer girls than boys are choosing it as a career.

Marie-Eve Racicot, director of R&D for OpenText Discovery Suite, believes it's time to challenge the status quo. "By creating more diversity and a more equal ratio of representation of men and women, we can build better organizations, better products and a better world," she says.

Racicot vividly remembers her job interview at OpenText five years ago. When she entered the office of the VP, he opened the conversation by telling her, "I'm so excited to meet you – it's not often that I come across a woman with such an impressive resumé in technology."

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This warm welcome made an impression. "After 30 seconds, I was sold. How could you not want to work for a company like this?" says Racicot. And her enthusiasm for being part of OpenText, where she soon advanced to a more senior position, hasn't waned. "For me, it makes a big difference when an organization is dedicated to diversity – I feel it really has an impact."

OpenText CEO & CTO Mark J. Barrenechea is also outspoken about the organization's commitment to increase diversity – he hopes to set an example for other technology companies. "As Canada's largest software company, we want to help change the standard. And as a leader, we have both the ability and a responsibility to enable change," he says.

“By creating more diversity and a more equal ratio of representation of men and women, we can build better organizations, better products and a better world.”
Marie-Eve Racicot is director of R&D for OpenText Discovery Suite

With an overall workforce of 30 per cent women, and 27 per cent women in tech roles, OpenText's gender diversity numbers are already better than industry averages, where women in major tech companies hold 15.6 per cent of the tech roles.

"Innovation requires diversity. We are continuously working to increase those numbers using the same innovation we bring to our products to create innovative diversity initiatives," says Barrenechea.

A result of OpenText's increased focus on the issue is an updated diversity and inclusion policy with online education modules for everyone in the organization. Another initiative involved identifying emerging women leaders in the organization and sending a delegation to attend last year's Grace Hopper Conference, which celebrates women in computing. "This group has become champions for diversity in the organization and will serve as mentors for the next Grace Hopper delegation," says Barrenechea.

Racicot, one of the delegates who attended the Grace Hopper Conference, says the experience has also reinforced her desire to encourage women to consider technology as a viable and desirable career option.

"It's important for women and girls to know that there are opportunities available to them and that there are people who are paying attention to gender balance, who are ready to help out," she says.

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In Racicot's view, mentorship and role models are important. "When you are younger, you look up to the women in your circle and you're more inclined to follow their footsteps," she says. "The more women working in technology today, the more role models we have for the next generation."

Barrenechea believes that through diversity programs that promote women in technology, companies can make a profound and lasting change for the betterment of the equality and posterity of women, the technology industry and society as a whole.

He also understands that a diverse workforce benefits OpenText, an organization "that thrives on the diversity of people and inclusion of ideas.

"I'm mindful of the benefits of company culture and of our Canadian soul. What sets OpenText apart is that Canadian soul: inclusiveness, diversity, respect, integrity and principle-based decision-making," says Barrenechea. "This year, we stand together on International Women's Day and remain committed to providing equitable and fair opportunities that further diversity objectives and illuminate the path to leadership."

Why the conversation needs to change
Filling the gap between women’s and men’s access to agricultural inputs and extension will increase yields of some key crops by up to 20%.
Department for International Development
Overall, secondary education for girls leads to a +15 - 25% boost in wages.
Increasing the share of girls in secondary education by 1 percentage point boosts a country’s annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percentage points.

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation

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