Diversity and Inclusion is our Corporate Culture

I am fortunate to call Canada home. As a Canadian, I think we often forget how inherently diverse we are as a population. I’m often telling international clients that in some of our larger cities, we can eat from a variety of cultures and for many of us – this is the new normal. But I’m very cognizant that it hasn’t always been this way.

I myself grew up in a small town of 19,000 people in Southern Ontario that was predominantly white. Born to immigrant parents that moved to Canada a few years before I was born, in my high school of 1800 students, the total number of “non-white” kids could be counted amongst two hands. Our family vacations consisted of road trips to various technical conferences around North America (hello family business) and a trip to India every 2 years to visit grandparents and cousins. As a businessman in small-town Ontario, my father insisted that we integrate as much as possible, while my mother maintained certain Indian traditions as well as the link to family in India. I started travelling at 16 – first on exchange to Switzerland and then to various internships all over the world. As travelling does, my eyes and mind opened drastically in those formative years and I believe it has made me the leader I am today.

I’m often asked if we have a diversity strategy at SensorTech, as we have an incredibly diverse workforce (and we always have). Bashfully, I always respond no – because frankly we don’t need it.

Diversity occurs naturally when you hire the best candidate for the job.

SensorTech has become a world leader in custom piezoceramics and underwater acoustics as a result of our world class products, cutting edge technology and experienced personnel – however we have no doubt benefited from our diversity.  From the very beginning, SensorTech has been a diverse company, hiring the best candidate for each position, regardless of background.  Today we still believe that diversity occurs naturally within any organization when you hire the best candidate for the job.  Having a diverse workforce has allowed us to make connections and establish ourselves in global markets which may have otherwise been difficult to penetrate.  We have been able to develop products we may not have otherwise envisioned due to not only of cultural background but also of diversity in experience and ideas.  As a visible minority female CEO of a company that operates primarily in the defence market, diversity is something I am faced with on a daily basis.

I also feel it is critically important to support underrepresented groups so we can get to the point where they are among the best candidates applying for jobs; to ensure that women and visible minorities are afforded the opportunity to see themselves as industry leaders in this and all sectors.

Over the years, we have always supported local students who want to pursue Science and Engineering. We have recently sponsored an entrance bursary at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) which will be awarded annually to a female or person who identifies as a visible minority who enrols in the Ocean Technology program.

My challenge to other Ocean Tech companies is to see what they can do – whether it’s a co-op position, or a bursary, or even a mentorship. Small efforts can make big impacts, not only for the student but for an organization as well.

Ultimately diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be a strategy. They should be part of the fabric of your organization. When we stop worrying about race and language barriers, we can start focusing on the technology that will help us better understand the Oceans.

Niru Somayajula

President & CEO at Sensor Technology Ltd

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