Cogeco Connexion recognized as model for workplace diversity

The second largest cable operator in Ontario and Québec was honoured recently as the 2018 winner of Women in Communications and Technology’s (WCT) Company of the Year Award.  Cogeco Connexion collected the award at an Ottawa ceremony in recognition of its ongoing efforts to make its workplace more diverse, inclusive and supportive of women.

“Cogeco Connexion takes diversity and inclusion seriously,” said Joanne Stanley, executive director of WCT. “It understands that a more diverse workplace ensures that companies are more innovative and better run.  Cogeco’s programs are purposeful and metrics-driven with senior management accountable for outcomes. As a result, it is achieving the kind of gender metrics that WCT would like to see more widely emulated throughout the digital economy.”

Fatima Khalid earned a standing ovation at the WCT Awards gala as she spoke about her social justice efforts and her work with the Drupal community. She was named WCT 2018 Rising Star.

Women at Cogeco Connexion constitute 32 per cent  of its total workforce, at a time when the information and communications industry average is 27 per cent. Its management cohort is also 32 per cent  female. Thirty-two per cent of its Board of Directors are women and Cogeco’s 11-person senior management team, led by President Ken Smithard, includes four women.

In 2011, Cogeco adopted a multi-year employment equity plan to achieve a fair representation of designated groups, including women. This plan included a number of progressive measures and objectives to foster diversity, employment equity and inclusion. They included:

  • Providing all Cogeco women with professional development opportunities designed to enhance executive and leadership skills and competencies.
  • Professional networking and support through Cogeco’s Women’s Network (which is corporately funded) and other programs.
  • Ensuring a highly flexible work environment for all employees that offers teleworking, flexible work schedules, reduced work weeks and unpaid leaves of absence to help employees better manager work and family responsibilities.
Willa Black, Vice President Corporate Affairs, Cisco Canada, is presented the 2018 Innovator of the Year.

“I am very proud of this recognition of our tangible commitment to making Cogeco Connexion a diverse and inclusive organization,” said Ken Smithard, President of Cogeco Connexion. “Diversity and equity are core principles with deep roots in our corporate culture. I am particularly proud of Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Connexion’s initiative to put together the Cogeco Women’s Network, which spearheads initiatives that allow all of our female colleagues to develop their skills and enhance their career path, thus leading to significant contributions to Cogeco’s growth.”

Cogeco was but one of the winners at the WCT Awards Gala. Other winners included:

  • Sylvie Courtemanche, Chair of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was named Woman of the Year
  • Techsploration, a Nova Scotia organization working offering mentor-led programs in schools in an effort to improve the number of women working in science, trades and technology, was presented the Empowerment prize.
  • Willa Black, Vice President Corporate Affairs with Cisco Canada, was named Innovator of the Year for her efforts spearheading programs like the sustainability initiative One Millions Acts of Green and the educational effort Connected North.
  • Fatima Khalid, a key member of the North American Drupal community, was recognized with the Rising Star Award.
  • Bonnie Brownlee, Executive Director, Communications, Marketing, Brand and Imaging, CBC, was named Mentor of the Year.
  • Geoff Poulton, President of Vista Radio, was recognized as Diversity Champion of the Year for growing the female representation in the company’s management from 15 per cent in 2013 to 50 per cent in 2018.
  • Trailblazer of the Year went to Zainul Mawji, Vice President, Home Solutions and Complementary Channels, TELUS.
  • Mina Chan, Rogers Director of Technology Development, Video, was awarded Technology Innovator of the Year.
  • Brigadier-General Frances Allen was presented a public sector leadership award and Laurie Hause, CIO McKenzie Lake Lawyers, was recognized as WCT Leader of the Year.

As a national organization dedicated to the advancement of women in Canada’s digital economy, WCT is committed to encouraging all employers in the digital industries to up the numbers by increasing the rate of women’s employment in the sector and women’s influence in the companies they serve. WCT’s Up the Numbers Program is a research and communications program designed to encourage practices – like gender metrics and analysis – and programs – like women’s networks, flexible work environments and executive career sponsorship to improve their overall diversity and inclusion.

Geoff Poulton, President, Vista Radio, celebrates with some of his management team after being named WCT 2018 Diversity Champion.
Arylene Reycraft, the executive director, Techsploration, accepts the WCT Empowerment award on behalf of the Nova Scotia organization.


Bonnie Brownlee, Executive Director, Communication, Marketing, Brand and Research, CBC was named WCT 2018 Mentor of the Year at the organization’s recent Awards Gala. Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, presented the award.








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Steve Proctor
Steve Proctor
Steve is Vice-President Marketing and Communication with ITWC. He spent 25 years in progressively senior positions as a journalist and editor with the Halifax Herald, with his final ten years as Business Editor. He has published two books and his freelance articles have appeared in national and regional magazines. He has led social media and communication efforts for two crowdfunding ventures and written and directed numerous dinner theatres for charitable endeavours.

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