Canada's Envisioning Labs and Hydrostor Inc among Disrupt Mining 2019 semifinalists
Disrupt Mining, an annual competition which challenges companies to propose new innovations aimed at solving the most pressing problems in the industry, announced this week six semifinalists of the 2019 event, the Northern Ontario Business Review reports. The winning company will receive up to US$750,000 for a proof of concept idea selected by a panel of industry experts.
Among the six semifinalists are two Canadian companies: Envisioning Labs and Hydrostor Inc.
Envisioning Labs: headquartered in Vancouver, Envisioning Labs was founded in 2013 and functions as an innovation consulting firm with expertise in multiple disciplines. The company’s entry into the Disrupt Mining competition in 2019 is a project to reuse mine tailings (the uneconomic materials remaining after the extraction of valuable ores) to manufacture which generate clean energy and sorbents – materials that can absorb liquids or gases – to reduce pollution.
Hydrostor Inc: playing the role of home team at the competition, Hydrostor is a Toronto-based company specializing in advanced compressed air energy storage. The company’s technology converts “unused mining infrastructure into energy storage systems that help mines manage their energy use and reduce their environmental footprint. The system can serve both the electricity grid and mining operations alike, reducing operational costs and providing legacy mines with new revenue opportunities,” according to Northern Ontario Business.
Also included in the penultimate round are:
Commercial Pau: a biometrics and security company with a new Digital Remote Lockout screen designed to improve on-site security and increase efficiency.
ETF Mining: a Slovenian firm creating fully electric, digital and autonomous modular mining vehicles, ETF hopes to increase on-site efficiency while reducing environmental impact.
Gekko Systems: a modular equipment manufacturer from Australia focused on gold mining, Gekko has created an online gold analysis software solution to accurately determine gold content in mineral processing slurries in real time.
Rubber Jet Valley: an Italian manufacturing firm with a proprietary high-pressure water jet designed to break down decommissioned rubber tires from mining vehicles. The spent rubber can then be recycled into new tires or into other rubber products.
The final event will be held on March 3rd at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.