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‘Go Out of Your Way:’ A Conversation With Jodi Kovitz for #IWD2022

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. 

At Toronto Global, we are privileged to have strong women leaders on our Board of Directors – empowering women to break barriers and seek positions of power. One of our Directors, Jodi Kovitz, is the Chief Growth Officer at Vetster, a high-growth virtual telemedicine platform for pets. She is also the former founder of #movethedial, a global movement that she launched in January 2017, dedicated to advancing the participation and advancement of all women in tech. 

Her own journey of self-reflection, self-discovery, and finding her passion led Jodi to helping people, propelling industry forward, and making the world a more inspired place through transforming the tech industry, and now the pet industry, into a more inclusive environment. Jodi is also a sought-after public speaker on diversity, inclusion, and building authentic relationships. 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke with Jodi about the status of gender equality in 2022, post-pandemic considerations for workplace equity and inclusion, and how she interprets this year’s theme, “Break the Bias.”

In 2022, we’re talking about gender through a highly progressive lens, and we also understand that different people, leaders, and companies are at different places in their equity journeys. 

“Where I am in my own journey is that I’m very much less focused on the historical norms of men and women, and much more understanding that gender is fluid, and there are many different forms of how people identify with respect to gender. I think it’s really important that we talk about all of us having the responsibility to go out of our way to meaningfully create a space that enables each person to shine, contribute and thrive. Equity is not the same as equality, and we often have to go out of our way to create those types of opportunities.”

A diverse and inclusive workplace is self-reinforcing. If historically marginalized folks, including people who identify as women, feel welcomed in a workplace, that organization will attract further candidates who can make their own unique and value-adding contributions to the company. 

Despite leaps in progress, women are still under-represented in the workplace, particularly women of colour, women with disabilities and women who identify as LGBTQ+.

“Any company that is thinking about how to be progressive and ‘move the dial,’ really has to start with the right context to bring to the conversation – a lot of listening and un-learning. It all starts with us as individuals being committed to reading, to listening, to expanding, to having conversations, and to building new relationships with people who are different than themselves. This is not for the purpose of performative allyship but for the purpose of really learning and starting to uncover your own personal biases and how to stand in solidarity – to effectively move the dial.

Only then, when we’re committed to doing our own personal work, can we then be effective as leaders and teams to make change that is long-lasting, and much more real and impactful than any targets set by a Board of Directors.”

This year’s theme, ‘Break the Bias,’ calls attention to the gender bias and stereotypes that still exist, from hiring processes to our daily work environment and interactions. Many companies still need to understand that women’s experiences are diverse and reach beyond gender, which requires personalized approaches to issues preventing career advancement.

In Jodi’s current role as Chief Growth Officer for Vetster, as the company continues to build from the ground up, she has ensured that equity remains at the forefront of decision-making.  

“Inclusion is a core value of who we are and how we do what we do – from product design to how we build out our team to how we think about making the product accessible and how we plan to show up in the community.”

And what is Jodi doing to honour International Women’s Day? 

“This year, International Women’s Day feels a bit different. The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been devastating and I fear that history will repeat itself, such that women and girls will increasingly be exposed to war crimes, gender-based violence, arbitrary killing, rape, and trafficking. I am going to contribute to several organizations specifically focused on protecting women and marginalized folks in Ukraine. The Obama Foundation has some outstanding suggestions of where you can help, if this cause resonates with you.”

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