Nora Jenkins of Wealthsimple: A Future Built by Everyone for Everyone
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself (in a nutshell).
I'm an HR leader in the tech space, as well as a feminist and proud Canadian. Currently I'm the Director of People Operations at Wealthsimple, and prior, I spent a few years scaling up the team at FreshBooks, amongst other startups and design agencies. I'm a hater of unnecessary traditions and process, and a believer that meaningful work, personal development and business goals don't have to be at odds. I've spent my whole career finding the best possible conditions for them to co-exist.
Q. You're Director of People Ops for one of the hottest and scaling startups (who just launched in the US today -- congrats!). What does that mean?
I joined Wealthsimple in early 2016, and our team has more than doubled since! We're far from being out of startup mode, so my day to day is really varied. I might be coaching a new manager, meeting great people who want to join our mission, crafting a learning and development program, or navigating the deep, dark waters of American healthcare benefits. I also lead a really talented team of recruiters and office operations specialists. Overall, our main focus is to both scale the team and design work experiences that grow and stretch people as well as leave them feeling appreciated. I want people to do the best work of their lives at Wealthsimple.
Q. How will you help move the dial and how are you supporting diversity within WealthSimple and beyond?
Diversity has been a huge passion of mine throughout my career. Look, software is clearly the future - it's how we interact with the world around us, in ways we never imagined. It's critical to ensure that the future is built by absolutely everyone, not just those who look or think a certain way or had the privilege of a certain type of education. Gender diversity is a big part of this. Women are half the world and we're still being steered away from STEM work.
Some changes we've made so far include improving our interview processes towards a more collaborative approach, vs a "get up and prove it", confrontational style. We try to involve women in almost every interview process and have designed some of our new perks and benefits around professional development and family life. We also use Textio, an incredible product that analyzes our job descriptions for inherently biased language. and have partnered with RailsGirlsTO and ExploreTech (local speaker series aimed at technical women). On that note, another idea is to provide speaker training to the technical women on your team and have them show off the great stuff they're doing! We're far from finished, but I'm proud to say that our gender balance in engineering has improved exponentially.
Next up, I'd like to launch more mentoring programs for women at Wealthsimple.
Q. What does diversity look like in 2020?
Coding is becoming more and more mainstream. Canada Learning Code, an initiative launched by Ladies Learning Code, has partnered with the education industry, government, and Canadian tech titans to ensure the ability to build with technology is available to all. I don't think we'll have "solved" diversity in tech by 2020, but those who don't believe in it's inherent value will surely be left behind.
*For more on how to move the dial at your company, see Nora's recent article, "On Women and Good Places to Work"