How to #movethedial like OLG


Photo by Roman Gubin.

Since its formation by the Government of Ontario in 1975, OLG has gone through many changes, one of the most significant being the need to meet their customers where they are – online.

Like all companies going through a digital transformation, OLG has had to think more creatively, work in new ways, and attract and retain the diverse tech workforce that’s required for ongoing success.

#movethedial recently sat down with the two women who have spearheaded the work to move the dial on the representation of women in the technology department at OLG: Jessica Brcko, Diversity and Inclusion Lead & Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition and Employer Brand and Jessica Hedges-Chou, Business Enablement Director at OLG.

Read on to find out how the pair marry business objectives and talent together with a four-pillar approach that has made a real impact at OLG.

The Spark that Started It All

For Hedges-Chou, the pivotal moment was when she took part interviewing students for OLG’s co-op program and was provided with a male-dominated slate of candidates to interview. Hedges-Chou stood her ground and said: “I’m not interviewing this imbalanced group, we’re supposed to be hiring the talent of the future.”

After reviewing the candidates again, the hiring manager brought forward a balanced group of five men and five women. According to Hedges-Chou, the women performed best during the interviews, highlighting what talent could’ve been missed had the original panel gone ahead.

At the same time, Jessica Brcko was moving into her diversity and inclusion role and Hedges-Chou felt she “had a partner in the People and Culture division to work with and tackle this together.”

Together they started to investigate the hiring processes more widely and thought about how to mitigate biases that could creep in along the way.

“We had 23% women in tech when we started, and we’ve brought that to 26% in just nine months. It’s a small but important improvement signaling a change in the right direction. We’ve moved above the national average in a short amount of time.

We are quite proud that we’ve made a significant increase in representation at the Director level where we have gone from 14% women to 41%.

After a lot of hard work, the two leaders and key champions within OLG came up with an action-focused and continuous approach.

The four-pillar approach to moving the dial like OLG

1. Embedding gender diversity in talent acquisition

At every stage of the Technology division’s hiring process at OLG, women must represent at least 40% of candidates and the interview panels also require gender diversity.

They worked with the talent team and hiring managers on taking an intentional approach to leveraging their own networks, both inside and outside, and also to focus on building new, diversified networks.

“Something #movethedial helps with is providing a space for leaders to attend events and build new relationships, which is especially important if you’re a hiring manager whose network predominately looks like you,” adds Brcko.

2. Getting out in the Community

OLG also partnered with #movethedial to get their brand associated in the right places, where women technologists are active and looking for jobs.

“Candidates don’t always see us as a digital firm so it’s great to be able to get out and spread the word,” Brcko said.

3. Unconscious Bias Training

“This might sound like a simple step, but we took our time to set this off the ground as we were very thoughtful about how we wanted it to work. It had to be tech focused,” says Brcko.

“We delivered unconscious bias training to every tech leader in the organization. It helped us develop some shared language around diversity, set guidelines around being an inclusive leader and show folks why diverse teams are critical to business success,” explains Hedges-Chou.

For OLG, it was important to bring action-planning into the training. All the leaders left the training with a plan of what they’re committing to and the Chief Technology Officer Brian Gill continues to emphasize that leaders have ownership and accountability to cultivate and leverage diversity in order to enable OLG’s business goals.

“Brian has been an invaluable leader, he’s gone so far as to call in hiring managers when they’re not following the processes and this type of support from the top is so important,” says Brcko.

4. Inclusion and Development

Brcko and Hedges-Chou are now looking at how they can develop and retain the talent they’ve found through the other three pillars, including exploring ways to boost diversity among tech leaders and hiring managers. Diversity needs to be embedded in all levels of the organization, that way decision-making actually benefits from different perspectives, approaches and experiences.

OLG’s President and CEO, Stephen Rigby recently launched a five-year Diversity & Inclusion strategy to their employees which moves beyond gender when it comes to diversity.

“You can hire diversely all you want, but if people come here and don’t see themselves reflected in leadership or don’t feel included, we’re going to lose them or not leverage their full talent,” expands Brcko.

We can’t focus on one parameter of diversity. Nobody is defined by a single identity, for example, gender, it’s more complicated than that. Inclusion is all about living that multi-faceted identity.

– Hedges-Chou, when talking about her involvement in the Pride network.

By: Róisín Nestor