Call icon



On-Ramp Towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Juanita Lee-Garcia Juanita Lee-Garcia Senior Manager,
Strategic Partnerships and Social Impact

In 2020, we made a commitment to listen to and learn from our community. We were deliberate in our efforts to enhance existing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts and to implement new practices.

VFC adopted community-based participatory approaches, research, and feedback methods. We created space for intentional engagement so community members could share their unique perspectives and local knowledge. The goal was to distribute the ability to influence, inform, and effect information, decisions and actions at VFC.

Specific activities in our commitment to being a community-centred organization included:

  • Engaging a professional consultant to audit our internal DEI practices related to culture and human resources.
  • Hosting VFC's first community-wide DEI Townhall.
  • Incorporating anti-racism reflection sessions into our training.
  • Conducting our first-ever comprehensive Fellowship demographic survey.
  • Activating our membership in community organizations focused on DEI including chairing the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Network's DEI working group.
  • Partnering with social impact sector community groups including Future of Good and Canadian Accelerator Innovation Network to lead and engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations in the sector.
  • Launching the Quebec Advisory Council to thoughtfully expand our operations to Quebec and increase program access to Francophones in Canada.
  • Activating staff roles in external community groups and training sessions.

In 2021, we are committed to:

  • Advancing anti-racism through our community-founded Anti-Oppression Committee.
  • Incorporating psychological safety and employee rights knowledge into our training curriculum.
  • Inviting leaders from BIPOC and marginalized groups to represent all folks in leadership roles.
  • Incorporating Indigenous worldview books into our staff book club and are hosting conversations with Indigenous community leaders for our team.
  • Building collaborative partnerships with Black and equity-seeking groups and organizations to diversify our prospective participant pool and access to our programs.
  • Continuing to practice our allyship within the startup, technology, and entrepreneurial ecosystem to remove entry barriers for folks from diverse backgrounds.

We recognize our role in contributing to building and sharing a common language to combat racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other types of discrimination and oppression through inclusion.

VFC believes in collective impact, which means working together towards a common agenda collaboratively. We seek to partner on projects related to reconciliation, equity, inclusion, and belonging; please connect with us directly.

“VFC is increasing the diversity of talent in the innovation ecosystem. With each new cohort, they surface young people with entrepreneurial potential who might have disqualified themselves”
Calla McLachlan
Calla McLachlan 2020 Fellow Mississauga, ON