We’ve all witnessed the power of technology in battling systemic racism. Social media helped spread eyewitness accounts of police brutality—such as the tragic murder of George Floyd—and build support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s fueled broad calls for justice and attracted policymakers’ attention; President Joe Biden has made racial equity one of his four key priorities. The business sector is paying attention, with large companies announcing new diversity pledges, partnerships and initiatives.
While the tech sector has helped spread the message that we need to be more inclusive, its own record on the issue is decidedly mixed. Despite publicly disclosing their diversity scorecards, big U.S. tech companies are adding Black employees at a snail’s pace. Facebook, for one, expanded its Black workforce from 3% to 3.8% over a six-year period, according to a June 2020 report from CNBC.
Two leaders pushing for change are Michael Carter, Global Head of Technology Investment Banking at RBC Capital Markets, and Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Montreal-based point-of-sale software company Lightspeed. Both spoke on the latest Disruptors podcast, dedicated to Black History Month. Here’s some of what we learned:
Diversity is an employee satisfaction and retention tool
Lightspeed was built on diversity. Its core founding members were all part of the LGBTQ+ community, and their diversity ethos has remained intact over the company’s 15-plus years. With customers in 100 countries, diversity is literally reflected in Lightspeed’s vast customer base. Dasilva believes it should also be reflected in its vision, workforce and operations.
It’s also crucial for employee retention and satisfaction. Lightspeed’s most recent diversity and inclusion survey showed that 83% of its workers feel they could be their authentic selves at work, and nine out of ten felt comfortable talking about their culture and background with colleagues. “I realized a lot of people worked at Lightspeed because of what it believed in, what it represented and what it stood for,” said Dasilva.
A lack of diverse talent can no longer be blamed on geography
Carter said the pandemic has proven that the tech sector can work remotely, and location should no longer be a barrier for finding Black talent.
“That’s where innovation, higher employment, and greater wealth could be built in communities. But first you’ve got to go with an intention to where the talent is, so that you can start that train moving,” he said.
Appoint leaders who believe in diversity
Dasilva believes a commitment to inclusion starts at the top. “You create leaders that believe in this as much as you do, and you create diversity in your leadership team and on your board,” he said.
“It’s a journey and it’s almost never completed; it’s a drive towards more representation,” he said. “Once you have that, you have to actually create the seats at the table where the decisions are made.”
Lack of investment in Black businesses is a challenge
Many funding announcements to support Black entrepreneurs were made last spring, but wage disparities persist, noted Carter, citing McKinsey’s estimate that the racial wealth gap will cost the U.S. economy at least US$1 trillion by 2028.
“I think that Canada can be a model. And I think it should start with things like investing in diverse communities. That’s a place where we can really shine,” said Dasilva.
The digital shift presents an opportunity for Black entrepreneurs
The pandemic has created completely new business models and ways of approaching business that excite Dasilva. “It would be an amazing moment to capitalize on these opportunities for fresh thinking and to bring value in such a unique way,” he said. “I think this is the time.”
Carter feels optimistic on the direction this issue is headed. “We have the talent, and especially on the back of a more digital economy,” he said. “It’s open to us.”
[00:00:33] One reason the murder of George Floyd shook the world the way it did was technology. Passers by were able to live stream police brutality for the whole planet to watch. That wasn’t possible a decade ago. And yet those same platforms that allow us to listen to the world can also silence too many voices.
[00:00:54] The worst thing that someone ever said to me was that no one would take me seriously because I was trying to help black people and no one would take me seriously because I was black, because I was young, because I was a woman.
[00:01:06] That’s Tamar Huggins Grant. She’s the founder and executive director of Tech Spark Canada. We’ll hear more from her later on. But before we get going, I want to put some key questions to you. How can black men and women, and especially youth, see a compelling future in tech, whether it’s in a big company or starting their own?
[00:01:25] How can we ensure tech doesn’t appropriate black culture? How can we ensure innovation is driven by and accountable to all parts of our society? And what are you doing to ensure the change we’re in the midst of is positive.
[00:01:40] It’s Black History Month. And yes, that’s an opportunity to honor the past, but it’s also an opportunity to look ahead, to think deeply about how to ensure a good share of what some people call the fourth industrial revolution is black led. This is Disruptors and RBK podcast. I’m John Stackhouse.
[00:02:10] In order to tackle these big issues, I’m honored to have Michael Carter here as my co-host. Michael is global head of technology investment banking at RBC Capital Markets in New York. He’s a 25 year veteran of Wall Street with leadership stints at Barclays and Lehman Brothers. And he serves on a range of boards encompassing both tech and leadership opportunities for young people, including the Executive Leadership Council, which is a major body in the US, a black business leaders. Michael thought deeply about many of these issues for much of his life, and it’s always a pleasure to speak with him. Michael, welcome to Disruptors. Thanks, John. Glad to be here, Michael.
[00:02:49] The last time you and I spoke on a podcast was last summer, soon after the murder of George Floyd. Sometimes that feels like last week. Sometimes it feels like a decade ago. And I wonder, when you look back over the last six or eight months, what do you think has changed in the larger conversation around black issues?
[00:03:07] Oh, I think one thing that has definitely changed is that people are more engaged. I think business leaders are making some progress and creating equitable work environments.
[00:03:18] It certainly seems there is definitely more interest in doing that. And that you have we have all witnessed many more investments in trying to get progress or moving toward progress. The other area that I see fairly substantial movement is rethinking leadership and what kind of emotional intelligence is required to understand employees and where they are and where folks need to be as a leader around big issues that are impacting society. I think we all know that the millennial generation, a very large part of millennials, make decisions about whether they’re going to work for a company or not. I think the number was something in Washington Post, about 83 percent of gen Zs. As an example, consider what the commitment is to diversity before they join a company. I think the other area is the commitment to being or allowing employees to be more human at work and to bring their whole selves. I’m not sure we’ve met the frontier yet on that on that point, John, but I think certainly there seems to be a greater embrace of the idea. I think the notion of having more diverse teams for innovation, that concept has been out there for a while, but I think we’re seeing a greater commitment to that as people prioritize change. And then lastly, a greater emphasis on focusing on the gaps both in hiring and pay and to some degree position, although we haven’t seen huge movements there. So that’s where I would see some of the conversations have moved in that direction. And I think there’s been some progress.
[00:05:09] I try to think of tech as both a sector and a platform. It’s a sector like any sector employees. Lots of people produces great companies, big companies. But it’s also a platform on which pretty much the whole economy and society now operates. It creates the operating system of our communities as well as our organizations and individual lives. As I’ve been reflecting on tech over the last six or eight months, I’ve been trying to appreciate the differences in progress between tech as a sector and tech as a platform. And there’s lots of talk about what big tech especially is doing as a sector, especially on the employment and leadership front. You know, there’s been some bold ambitions and reality may be a little bit different, but as a platform, I don’t think we’ve been adequately addressing the hidden biases of of tech. I don’t think we understand them. What have you been learning over the last while in terms of tech as a platform and its role in the diversity conversation across society?
[00:06:17] Well, I don’t think tech in particular big tech, has until recently prioritized change in regards to the voices that are heard on these platforms and even the intention of moving things toward a more equitable society, if you will. But I think, as I said earlier, the conversations have begun to take on a slightly different tone. You see it from the top, whether it’s Microsoft, you see it from Google and Apple, et cetera, where there’s a greater commitment toward using their platform for some of that change. And so I think that’s number one is a greater effort to prioritize change because you’re certainly not going to get it if you don’t prioritize it. The thing that tech. Has not really figured out, though, because if you look at the results, it hasn’t been a substantial change in the results. I still believe there’s about black Americans, as an example, represent 14 percent of the economy and most tech companies have. I’ve seen numbers range from less than five to maybe less than seven, depending on what you’re looking at in tech. And so there hasn’t been a huge movement in regards to the outcomes, in terms of employment, in terms of even senior management, the amount of venture capital that is going into black and other minority businesses. But again, the prioritization around doing more is where I see tech moving to what I’d like to see and not so much the technology itself. John, I think technology itself is important, but what I think the CIS tech is one of the higher paying employment sectors. It would be good to see big tech in particular begin to cultivate places that black talent exist for a very, very long time. If you think about where a lot of the technology centers are taking to Silicon Valley, for one, it’s sort of come to Silicon Valley and, you know, you can get involved in some really creative and interesting things. Well, you know, most black Americans live east of the Mississippi, and so perhaps more thought should go into going where the talent is, as opposed to pronouncements about what could happen if the talent came. And so I think of areas like Atlanta, obviously, which is a very large tech entrepreneurship hub. It’s the entrepreneurship hub for black talent that’s just now beginning to see the kind of rapid development that I would expect from technology companies that were truly prioritizing growth and change, particularly as it relates to black employment. We are seeing more engagement in Miami. As an example, there’s been quite a few announcements, which I think is both good for the black community, but definitely for the Latino community as well. So I think that’s a that’s where I’d like to see more. That’s where innovation, higher employment, greater wealth could be built in the communities. And then that kind of builds upon itself. And change begets change at that point in time. But first, you got to go with an attention to where the talent is so that you can start that train moving.
[00:09:53] That’s a really interesting idea, Michael, to take opportunity to where people are rather than expect market forces to draw them to the opportunity. But it was more than creating a Google office in Miami. As you know, there’s a whole ecosystem that needs to be built, including research centers, great learning centers, universities, venture capital and customers. That’s in some ways why Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley. How do you create that kind of ecosystem in Atlanta or Miami or here in Toronto or let’s say, Montreal?
[00:10:29] Well, first of all, I think we’ve learned that nearly 60 percent I think it’s a little short of that of US citizens as an example, can work remotely. And so the pandemic, you know, suggests that geography is not necessarily the challenge for creating the type of centers that we’re talking about.
[00:10:49] I mean, we’ve now been able to advance vaccines within two years. I think we can figure out how to advance technology by using remote capability and other technologies to involve people and to incorporate more activity outside of Silicon Valley. But to be very specific with what you were saying in regards to more of the physical side of infrastructure, creating sort of that DNA of creativity and innovation, which I think is really what Silicon Valley is about. I mean, to some extent, Silicon Valley is less of a place than it is sort of an ecosystem or an idea of how innovation gets permeated with throughout the economy. Geography should not be a barrier for expanding the tech ethos. It should not be a barrier for moving into geographies where you find greater African-American talent. As an example, I actually believe that the pandemic for all of the horrible things that the pandemic has has brought upon us. I do believe that it has taught us all that we can live in other places and still offer up great opportunity and innovation. And I think that’s. Rate for the black community, majority of the black community does live east of the Mississippi.
[00:12:16] Michael, I love that idea of thinking beyond geography and that concept of expanding the tech ethos, whatever the barriers may be, it’s not unlike what Tamar Huggins Grant, who we heard from at the start of the episode, has been trying to do since she founded Tech Smart Canada in 2015.
[00:12:34] My focus was really about how can we get students of color? How can we get young girls involved in technology at a younger age? How can we present, you know, coding and UX design, robotics, A.I., VR gaming to them in a space that’s that’s fun. But that’s also intentional in the sense that we are giving them opportunities and opening up their minds to thinking, hey, you know what? I can be a developer. I can, you know, be a coder, I can be a game developer. I can be anything. I really wanted young people to see reflections of themselves in the space. And so we worked really hard to bring educators and technical mentors that looked like and come from the communities that we serve, not about excluding others because of race. It’s about making those who have felt excluded because of race being included in a space that has excluded them for so long. That is that is what I’m here to do, is to make the tech sector equitable. It’s not going to be a comfortable journey. It hasn’t been comfortable. And that’s fine, because whenever we expect change, there has to be some level of discomfort.
[00:13:57] Coming up, we’ll welcome another voice to the conversation, a man on a mission to promote diversity in tech.
[00:14:15] You’re listening to Disrupters, an ABC podcast. I’m John Stackhouse. What in the world is going on when it comes to disruption and what does it mean for you? That’s what we try to tackle in every episode. We break things down to the bottom line so that you can respond quickly to a quickly changing world. Listen back to our episode about EA Sports to get truly game changing insights. And while you’re at it, subscribe so that you don’t miss out on our upcoming two part series on creativity as a key tool in business. And we want to hear from you about topics you want to hear about. So please email us at disruptors at Wrbican.
[00:14:56] Michael Carter from RBC Capital Markets in the U.S. is my co-host today. Michael, let’s bring DAX DaSilva into this. He’s the CEO of Light Speed, a terrific Montreal company which sets up seamless retail point of sale systems using cloud technology. The company has more than a thousand employees in offices around the world and light speeds clientele now spans 100 countries. DAX, welcome back to Disruptors. Thanks for having me, John. It’s always great to speak to you about tech as well as diversity and inclusion, because you are such a leader in so many conversations and doing really interesting things at light speed as an employer.
[00:15:37] And you’ve also got an incredible background on your own. And we really wanted you to be part of this conversation because of the stand you took on Black Lives Matter last year. We’re keen to get your thoughts on how things have evolved since then, especially with respect to representation in tech. But maybe we can start with your own story. Your family is, I believe, South Asian and immigrated to Canada from Uganda in East Africa.
[00:16:05] Was there one specific thing that sparked your interest in diversity, particularly when it comes to black representation in tech?
[00:16:13] Yes, as you mentioned, South Asian background. Also, I’m a member of the LGBTQ community. So there’s there’s some intersectionality with my own personal identity, the origins of the company Lightspeed. You know, a lot of our original team were all members of the LGBTQ community. So light skinned has has roots in believing that our differences can really be a teacher being a member of the BIPAC community. Also, it’s important that we’re an engaged company in in these communities because, you know, one hundred and fifteen thousand customers all around the world that are that are retail and hospitality diversity is represented in our customer base. And that should be reflected in our company and should be reflected in how we operate and how we envision the company growing.
[00:16:58] Can you tell us a bit about how diversity has helped you through the crisis? Because when this hit, I remember hearing people asking questions about all sorts of firms. But, you know, lightspeed seemed deeply challenged, given that you are principally dealing with a lot of retailers and restaurateurs who are clobbered by this. And yet you’ve you’ve you’ve excelled through the crisis. You’re growing incredibly internationally. What role did diversity and inclusion play in your transition strategically through the past year?
[00:17:29] Yeah, I think it has had some intersections with how we’ve been able to weather this pandemic. You know, around the around the same time as the pandemic set in, we did do a diversity inclusion survey across the company and we began a new way of communicating with the company because everybody was working virtually and working remotes. You know, some of the things that really struck me as we looked at the statistics and the company was that 83 percent of viewers felt that they could be their authentic selves in the workplace. You know, nine out of 10 felt comfortable talking about their culture and background with their with their colleagues and nearly 17 percent identified as LGBTQ plus globally. And as I spoke to many employees across the company, it kind of surprised by some of these these numbers. I realized a lot of people worked at Lightspeed because of what it believed in, what it represented, what it stood for, for them.
[00:18:18] Michael, jump into the conversation because you deal with entrepreneurs all over the map. And I’m curious what kind of conversations or how your conversations have changed with those entrepreneurs and leaders like DAX over the last year?
[00:18:32] Well, first of all, just congratulations to DAX and just all the success that he and lightspeed have had. And you are you are a hero, not just in Canada. You’re a hero, period. So thank you.
[00:18:46] I guess one of the things that I see is that entrepreneurs like DAX are leading the charge. They’re closer to their people.
[00:18:55] You just heard DAX has a pretty good sense of what to do in a very authentic way and true to entrepreneurism and what entrepreneurs do. They get it done by acting. If it’s the right thing to do, they do it. The second thing is we talked about this earlier is just prioritizing change and embracing it. I think people like to accept the opportunity and the luxury to be close to the center of change every day and are not afraid of it.
[00:19:25] But one of the things I would ask you seem to have figured out a formula that that works and you’ve obviously embraced diversity for so many reasons, all the reasons you mentioned.
[00:19:37] But it seems like tech overall still struggles. The numbers are just still incredibly low when it comes to black and Latino in particular, which together are 28 to 30 percent in the US. I’m not sure what it is exactly in Canada, but what do you think, really? Tributes to that, why is it still so difficult for many tech companies to really get their arms around this? And what would you say to them, to CIOs, about trying to to change the equation?
[00:20:08] You know, I think we have an interesting perspective, because our last two acquisitions were acquisitions, 10 and 11 for Lightspeed. So we’ve brought a lot of smaller tech companies that maybe grew with a very different perspective and different ethos. And there’s maybe less diversity in some of the acquired companies. But I mean, all of them have believed in the vision and the value of diversity and inclusion. We have integrated companies where we’ve had to introduce, I think, new ways to how you interview for new employees, how we roll out unconscious bias training across the company so that we do bring more diversity into those parts of the company. So I think it’s not something that that happens automatically and it’s not something that just continues automatically either. As we continue our journey, we are continuously having to reflect on are we living up to our ideals? When George Floyd happened, I made statements immediately. It was such a visceral reaction for me. But what was the company going to do? What are the abilities of your company, your tech company? What can it offer to some of these communities so that it starts to invite people into the conversation? And you are a brand tech brand that starts attracting employees or attracting candidates, and your interview process in your circle of interviewing becomes larger and larger and then you actually change the composition of the company and that’s ultimately so enriching. So that’s I think those are some of the steps that have to be contemplated. And it’s a journey and it’s something that almost never completed. It’s a drive towards more representation. And and then once once you have the representation, you have to actually create the seats at the table where the decisions are made. That’s important, too, because that’s also how material change happens.
[00:21:50] It’s interesting that you say that one of my favorite quotes is Shirley Chisholm said if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. Right. And I think you you just you just stated that quite clearly.
[00:22:03] DAX, I love how you’re trying to avoid committee culture and wish you well on that on that journey. But as tech companies grow, it must become harder to maintain the culture, especially of a culture built on diversity and inclusion. What have you learned through lightspeed rapid growth in terms of protecting, but maybe even developing your culture through through growth?
[00:22:28] So company culture and tone certainly comes from the top. As a leader, I think you have to you know, I know a lot of a lot of companies have a chief diversity officer that has to be, I think you first and foremost, you could have a team in the committee and we’re building out a committee that represents people from around the world since we’ve become so global. But you have to embody and you have to you have to be watchful for things that are happening throughout the company and the opportunities for going deeper. I do think that the buck stops with, you know, with the CEO. A true leader creates leaders. Right? So you create leaders that believe in this as much as you do. You create diversity in your leadership team and in your board. You set a standard that people throughout the company try to work towards. And then you have to be open to hearing that you’re not living up to that standard when you’re not. That’s a culture of listening and a culture of accessibility that has to also be built so that you can keep the standard that you’ve that that you’re aspiring for.
[00:23:26] Michael, you deal with a range of companies. And I’m curious what you’ve learned and seen from the more successful ones addressing these issues over the past year.
[00:23:34] Folks have taken different paths, if you will, around the subject of the blend of diversity in general, some have resorted to investing in the community through other means of participation. Many of them have really made a real effort by bringing a few more folding chairs, if you will, to the table. Not as many as probably is needed for sure.
[00:24:03] If you look at the broader universe of companies, we’re down to one black CEO of a Fortune 500 company, which tells you a lot about where we’re going. From the leadership perspective, the middle management piece has seemingly has broadened and we see a lot of the companies really expanding aggressively there. I know Microsoft has put a five year plan together to nearly double the number of diverse participants in senior positions in the company. And those are all very big pronouncements. What we haven’t seen as much is more of kind of closing the wealth gap. I think the companies that are really investing with a longer term mindset have really begun to look at how do we participate in closing the gap. I think Kinzie said that by twenty twenty eight, it’s going to cost a trillion to. Trillion, trillion, five to deal with the ever widening gap between black and white and this country, and so being able to be a participant there, whether it’s Softbank has a has a hundred million dollar fund, other companies that PayPal is investing in black and brown businesses as well. I think all of that is a very good, good start. And it’s smart to do because at the end of the day, if you have wealth, you can sustain some of the problems that we had we’ve seen through the pandemic where you started with, you know. Fifty nine percent of black owned businesses were already struggling and that was before the pandemic. I can only imagine what the final number is going to be when we do the tally this year about how many have survived. And so without some wealth, you’re basically going from hand to mouth or you just go completely out of business. And so I think that recognition by some of these companies I think has been huge. But we need a lot more because a trillion dollars is a huge gap and it’s not going to be closed overnight.
[00:25:59] How how are you thinking about the investment challenge? Michael and I were talking earlier about the need for a lot more investment capital for black entrepreneurs. A lot has been committed or pledged over the last year, but it remains insufficient. You’ve raised a lot of money over your your career. Maybe share some insights into the challenges you’ve faced at light speed and how you’ve overcome them, but also what challenges may lie ahead for others?
[00:26:25] Yeah, I think our tech ecosystem is is rapidly developing in Canada. I think there’s lots of opportunities for there to be funds that are sub funds of bigger funds now that we’re at the level that that we’re at.
[00:26:38] I think that there’s more development to go where we’re not Silicon Valley yet. But I think that what’s interesting about Canada is that there’s no denying that systemic racism exists in the country. But at the same time, we do have some wins on diversity and inclusion. And I think that we can be a model. And I think it should start with things like investing in diverse communities. That’s a place where we can really shine.
[00:26:59] Michael, what do you think we’re we’re missing that maybe we can take on across the tech ecosystem in the year or years ahead?
[00:27:07] Well, I do believe the pandemic is an opportunity to expand participation in technology, employment and also perhaps in entrepreneurism itself by recognizing that geography is not a barrier and we can invest where the talent is. I’m actually quite excited about the opportunity to do more for more because not every one is or should be in tech associated with just Silicon Valley. I think DACS is a it’s a great proof that Silicon Valley does not have a lock on innovation and great minds. You know, there is a lot of places that can take more investment.
[00:27:49] And I think it’s a great way for us to close that wealth gap and also to expand on really creating innovation, because talent does breed innovation and we need to be where the talent is. And I think that’s quite exciting.
[00:28:07] As we move towards close, I wonder what advice you both might have for black entrepreneurs who are listening as well as their allies, whether they be employees, business partners, investors or neighbors, what they might be thinking about as they think towards the economic recovery and the opportunities that will emerge in the months and years ahead.
[00:28:29] I think that entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs that are in racial minorities or gender diverse minorities, have a real opportunity in the new economy.
[00:28:39] There is going to be completely new business models, completely new ways of approaching business. That is something that we’re seeing as we see reopenings happening around the world in countries like like Australia, for example. It would be an amazing moment to capitalize on these opportunities for fresh thinking and to bring the value that each one of those communities can bring in such a unique way.
[00:29:01] I think this is the time I agree with that. And I do think, at least from the American standpoint, I would say that I look forward to seeing more African-American businesses, a stretch of the imagination of the possibility of where they can pursue business opportunities. Right now, only five industries represent most of the employment that black Americans are a part of. I mean, 74 percent of black women and 62 percent of black male owners are only in five industries. Nothing wrong with those businesses. They’re important. But there are so many other businesses as well that we have the right to. And we have the talent and especially on the back of a more digital economy. It’s open to us. And what I’d like to encourage others is that that’s an opportunity to invest in minority businesses do quite well. The statistics are quite supportive of returns. So I think that those two converging ideas can create some really unique opportunities and just bend the curve. Again, I’m very focused on that wealth gap and I think this is another opportunity to close that gap as well.
[00:30:08] We’re still in the middle of the pandemic, of course, and that’s probably first and foremost on people’s minds. I suppose there’s a risk that we forget about these challenges or at least that they fall down the list of priorities. How do we keep the challenges that the world seem to come to an awareness of last summer? How do we maintain that in the front of our minds?
[00:30:29] I think that we we need to keep our focus on justice, economic justice as it pertains to racial justice. That’s, I think, a way for us to emerge from this current crisis as a more connected community is as a better society. We’ve had time to reflect. We’ve had some very difficult moments through this past year, crystallized in what what happened with George Floyd.
[00:30:52] And I think that coming out of this, we should be much more thoughtful in our approach. This is a moment where as we come out of this, we’re actively supporting new opportunities for communities that haven’t had them. That would be my hope.
[00:31:06] I think that’s such a great way of framing attacks that economic justice and racial justice are really interlinked. And we often kind of think too narrowly of racial justice as being about representation, about hiring, about numbers. And we forget other really critical aspects, including the economic aspects that, Michael, you’ve been talking about in terms of the wealth gap. We’ve seen greater divisions, greater disparities through this crisis. How, Michael, can we think about narrowing those gaps a little more quickly than markets might do on their own?
[00:31:42] Well, I think we’ve seen it in a few ways. You know, RBC, as an example, has a program called Access Capital, where we allow companies to invest in bonds and other securities that would help small businesses. It could be to banks as an example, to free up liquidity so that they can make more loans into the same communities that are the target of help. It could be, you know, supporting government issue for opportunities in struggling neighborhoods, etc.. I also think, though, we have to pay a lot of attention to the fact that not everyone is able to work from home and safe and as connected as some of the some of the folks on this particular podcast. And we have to make sure that health care, child care, wage disparities, all of those things are also tended to as well.
[00:32:35] And you’re seeing some of that. But we still have a long way to go. And so I think those are some of the core places that we have to focus on.
[00:32:43] And then I have to say always and it’s always going to be front and center as a component, which is education. But I think education, not only on things like the economic side of business, is poor and learning how to be an entrepreneur, et cetera. But I also think we have to spend time on making sure that mental health is also being spoken to about and invested in as well, because there is going to be continued carnage coming out of the pandemic. And I don’t think we’ve only seen very small aspects of that. And I do worry about what the totality is, particularly for communities that have struggled so, so much and so often.
[00:33:26] You know, those are some such important insights. The vaccines, no matter how successful, don’t don’t end the problems that we’ve been talking about before. You go, I wonder if you might shed light on the year ahead and what you most hope to see in the year ahead.
[00:33:44] I’m optimistic that we’re going to see more opportunity created for all as we see the the economies reopen. Given what we’ve learned regarding racial justice and then and other other important social topics and our relationships with one another, the understandings that have been built, that that that reopening can be more equitable.
[00:34:05] That’s a great message. It’s always great to have you on the podcast. I always learn something when I when I get to talk to you. So thank you. Stay well and look forward to continuing the conversation. Thanks for having me. I wonder, Michael, as we wrap up how hopeful you’re feeling about these challenges in our collective ability to really come to grips with them? You know what? I’m actually feeling quite hopeful.
[00:34:26] I do believe in humanity. I believe in the human spirit of engagement. And one of the things that is so important, it’s come out of what we saw in twenty twenty is just all the engagement, not only about the issues, but also about strategies and tactics in which to solve the problem.
[00:34:49] We’re beginning to get bigger and bigger mines associated with trying to tackle the issues and people are beginning to really speak up. They’re using their voice. They’re letting their voice be the latter. I’m sure, John, given that you’re quite well read that you’re familiar with the author of the bestselling book Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson. But he said it best.
[00:35:11] And I think this is what we’re really looking for from people, because change comes as a as as a result of engagement. Said somebody has to stand when other people are sitting, somebody has to speak when other people are quiet. And we’re getting that there are less people that are sitting and there are a lot less people that are quiet.
[00:35:33] And that encourages me.
[00:35:36] Those are the perfect words to end on. Michael, thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for your ongoing leadership. It’s it’s really inspiring, but also essential. Michael, thank you so much for being my co-host for the special episode of Disrupters. Thank you for having me. Michael Carter is the global head of technology investment banking at RBC Capital Markets. We’d both like to thank our special guest, DAX de Silva, the CEO of Lightspeed. I’d also like to thank Tamar Huggins Grant from Texas, Canada. I’m John Stackhouse and this is Disruptors and RBC Podcast. Tune in next time and the time beyond that for our two part series on creativity and why it’s the right skill in the coming recovery. Talk to you soon.
[00:36:31] Disruptors and RBC podcast is created by the RBC Thought Leadership Group and does not constitute a recommendation for any organization, product or service, it’s produced and recorded by Jar Audio for more disruptors, content like or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and visit Ask.com slash disruptors.
Click here for details on Lightspeed’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. Tech Spark Canada’s mission to increase inclusivity in the technology sector may be found at techspark.ca. Click here to learn more about Michael Carter’s background and work promoting innovation, inclusion, and diversity. Click the links for more info on RBC’s Purpose, Vision, and Values, Community and Social Impact, and efforts to promote Diversity & Inclusion.
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