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Technology + construction + gender parity = a winning combination for Harbr Inc., a start-up just shy of its third anniversary

Gender parity in two male-dominated industries (construction and technology) is one of the major achievements of Nova Scotia-based Harbr Inc. The other is a technology platform, designed for retail owners, that acts as a project assistant to help coordinate contractors, vendors and suppliers across all projects.

Thanks to Harbr Inc.,WCT Nova Scotia’s first technology sponsor and to Ashley Kielbratowski, Co-Founder and Head of  Product, for delivering very meaningful remarks at our chapter launch in November 2018. The support of such a vibrant software start-up which practices gender parity is as impressive as it is encouraging.

Harbr is a software-as-a-service work management AI for retail owners. With diversity ingrained in their DNA, Harbr fosters creativity and innovation. Their mission is to make it as simple as possible for retailers to build at scale anywhere while maintaining complete control of their brand.

Thank you to Sarah Pyke, Harbr’s VP of Marketing, who is providing her insight for this blog.

 

Sarah, why is Harbr dedicated to gender parity?

Simply put: diversity creates better products, customer experiences, team cultures and companies.We see huge value every day in having a gender-diverse team. At Harbr, we support diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and skills. The more inclusive and diverse we are, the better our work.

Do you think it is easier for a start-up to achieve gender parity?

I believe that a start-up is fertile ground for achieving diversity; however, gender parity is really hard for a start-up to commit. With one of three Harbr Co-Founders a woman, the importance of gender parity and diversity was pretty clear from the beginning. Diversity is also part of our mission statement. With talent acquisition and rapid growth as core tenants of building massively scalable companies, most start-ups choose the relatively easy path of hiring whoever can do the work. Our commitment is the firm belief that diversity simply creates well-rounded companies, teams and products.

I also believe while it may be more challenging for long established companies to achieve diversity and gender parity, it is never too late. Companies and individuals need to educate themselves on unconscious biases that exist, particularly managers and anyone in a leadership role. It takes time, effort and commitment but it is so worth it.  

What effort does Harbr take to create and maintain an inclusive workplace?

We’ve implemented inclusivity and diversity policies around hiring, reporting and training. Working with other start-ups to create common practices is beneficial. Harbr puts significant effort into ensuring gender neutral job postings are inclusive and appeal to women and men.

What benefits does Harbr reap from operating an inclusive workplace?

There are so many benefits to an inclusive and diverse workplace. One important impact it has is on understanding a customer’s problem, because it allows us to create more holistic solutions. The differing perspectives of each team member enables us to solve problems more effectively, which means we’re able to build better products. We believe diversity is the core of creativity and innovation and we have seen huge benefits.

We attract better talent because of our diverse culture. It can be quite intimidating to walk into an all male or all female company. For many of our hires, knowing that gender parity is a priority, makes people feel comfortable joining the team.

Are clients aware of the company’s inclusive practices?

Our company’s philosophy regarding gender parity is endorsed by our clients, investors and supporters as well as the construction, tech and business communities. While our industry partners may consider Harbr a leader in diversity, we are always looking for ways to improve.  


In June 2018, Digital Nova Scotia presented Harbr with the Diversity Champion of the Year Award. This is a great recognition of the progress Harbr is making towards creating diversity and empowering women in male-dominated industries. It is important to note that the media has also taken a keen interest in our commitment to gender parity, most likely because it is almost completely unheard of in the technology and construction industries.

Thank you to Sarah for making this blog happen and to everyone at Harbr for their input and support. Check out the media coverage and company and product info here: www.harbr.com, Facebook @goharbr, Twitter @goharbr, LinkedIn @Harbr.com or Instragram @harbrretailai.

Stay tuned for our next talk with Harbr where the focus turns to mentorship.

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