Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds

Editor's note: Given the events of recent weeks, we wanted to host a discussion on whether people from the Black, First Nations and other minority communities are welcomed, supported and funded in the Atlantic Canadian startup ecosystem. We've asked several representatives of these communities to offer their thoughts. We're starting today with Ross Simmonds, the Founder of Foundation Marketing.  

 

The tech community is big on data. It thrives on it. It's been built on it. Thus, it's important that the conversation starts by looking at existing data and reporters stepping up to get it. We often use categories like "diverse" and "minorities" but this approach often misconstrues the data and results in more comfortable data surrounding real issues. We need to look at data with specifics with regards to race and look for information on what communities are underserved, underrepresented, underfunded and ultimately missing out on the tech explosion – aka, this generation’s industrial revolution. 

I don't have the data but I'm curious to see it…

How many of the companies that Innovacorp has funded since creation have been owned by Black or First Nations entrepreneurs? How much funding has gone into Black or First Nations entrepreneurs from VCs? How many people identify as First Nations or Black and are employed at startups in Nova Scotia? How many Black or First Nations people hold leadership positions in tech? How many Black or First Nations people are enrolled in Computer Science?

Here's what I know:

I know that in 2016, Black people in Nova Scotia represented just 2.4 percent of the population and First Nations Nova Scotians 5.7 percent.  I know that on average, both of these groups with post-secondary education still earn less than White Nova Scotians. I know that on average, Nova Scotian schools that serve predominantly Black communities are typically rated lower than schools in predominately White communities. I know that organizations like Volta, Imhotep’s Legacy Academy and the Black Business Initiative have gone into predominately Black communities to expose minorities to tech and STEM. I know that there's pipeline challenges in Nova Scotia and I know that a lot more needs to be done. Not only by me. But by every founder and person in tech who wants to see change.

 

Ross Simmonds is the founder of Foundation, a Toronto- and Halifax-based content marketing agency that combines data and creativity to develop and serve ambitious B2B brands.