This December 8 marks the date of the 10th annual HoHoTO holiday party, Toronto’s digital community celebration event of the year. This annual event is a chance to give back and help shape the future of the professional community. With over $400,000 raised for local charities, we are proud of what we’ve accomplished over the years, and excited about what lies ahead as we look to shape inclusivity and drive positive, rewarding change across the digital community.
An epic party that makes a difference
From startups to enterprise, marketers to business leaders, new tech organizations to established bricks and mortar, every year we invite leaders, professionals, and students from across the digital community to join us at the Mod Club for an epic party that raises money for a series of year-round workplace diversity initiatives. With 500 annual attendees, the party represents an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and diversity organizations in the upstairs lounge and celebrate the year with drinks, dancing, and more on the main floor. Better still, ticket sales and supporting sponsors help raise money for a variety of year-round initiatives.
Workplace diversity is a complicated issue
We understand the complexity of workplace diversity in the digital industry. It’s clear from our work over the years that the workplace diversity challenge is exacerbated by a lack of access and engagement in digital pursuits by youth, particularly girls and young women.
Consider this: when you have a university computer science class with only a handful of women, you end up having dozens more men ready to be hired into the workforce.
Ultimately, it’s not enough to connect with and support current professionals; we need to engage youth to encourage participating in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses at a young age, while highlighting the opportunities, challenges, and rewards of a career in related fields.
At the same time, there is work to do at the professional level, connecting women and people of colour to supportive peers and opportunities, highlighting the benefits of diversity in any sized organization, and continuing to lead by example by hosting inclusive events and promoting a diverse group of successful professionals from across our community.
Our initiatives make an impact
We know how we can make an impact and we’ve established a mix of initiatives to do just that. This begins with our events—including HoHoTO, and more—and continues with our mentorship programs and ongoing efforts to highlight professionals and organizations who are already making a difference through our women in STEM content series.
Events: From our massive end of year HoHoTO party to our Disrupting with Digital professional event series, we lead by example, hosting inclusive events year round.
Mentorship programs: From our and Girls’ Tech Tour, where girls to visit companies across Toronto to hear from professional women who are leading STEM organizations, to our youth mentorship program which connects professional women to individual girls to support them as they pursue careers in STEM.
Women in STEM series: videos, interviews, and articles highlighting professional women as well as organizations and events who are excelling at business through their inclusivity efforts.
Most importantly, money raised at HoHoTO is donated to YWCA Toronto Girls’ Centre. The Girls’ Centre in east Toronto is the only centre of its kind in Canada, serving girls ages 9-18, of all ethnicities and belief systems, by providing a safe space, food, activities, and learning programs, 7 days a week.
By supporting this centre and initiating programs for young women to learn more about technology-driven businesses and entrepreneurship, while giving them access to technology—from computers to programming to connected devices—we’re setting the stage for more women and minorities to pursue digital careers.
We need your help to do more
In the end, we are a volunteer organization. Committee leaders, Niya Bijaj, Lee Dale, Raj Kutty, and Ryan Taylor—along with our complement of supporters and additional volunteers—run this organization in addition to our day jobs. In order to continue to grow our impact, we need to grow our volunteer base.
With the full complement of initiatives, there are a number of opportunities to support. Despite all we’ve accomplished, we’re just getting started, and we need your help to continue to grow our impact. Supporting is as easy as purchasing a ticket for this year’s event and enjoying a great party with your peers, but we encourage you to reach out with your ongoing support as a volunteer.
Key areas where we’re looking for support now include:
Women who are interested in telling their story as part of our Women in STEM series of interviews and articles
Women interested in youth mentorship and speaking at related events such as our Girls’ Tech Tours
Speakers for upcoming professional events
Connecting with organizations who are making a difference with their diversity initiatives
Content writers and creators
Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how you can help us make an impact on workplace diversity.