The 2021 Women of the Year Awards: Community Builder – Winner

As CEO of HR Tech Group, Stephanie Hollingshead has promoted diversity and inclusion in the technology sector.

Community Builder: Winner
Stephanie Hollingshead
CEO, HR Tech Group

Stephanie Hollingshead was a few weeks into her job as chief executive of Vancouver’s HR Tech Group when she heard about the province’s call for proposals for the Diversity and Inclusion Tech Project. “I was so new in the role, I didn’t have the connections or the knowledge to know how to put the proposal together,” she recalls. “I didn’t even have any business cards at the time.”

But Hollingshead, an Okanagan native who has worked in HR since graduating from UBC with a commerce degree in the 1990s, was adamant that HR Tech Group should get involved. “We had previously done some provincially funded research work on diversity and inclusion, and had recommended calls to action in that report,” she says. “And I’m a change maker, so I thought, OK, an implementation project to drive change in the sector, that’s in my wheelhouse.”

Hollingshead leveraged $1.3 million in funding to embark on a variety of projects, including the Diversity and Inclusion Hub, a library of hundreds of equity, diversity and inclusion resources, and diversity and inclusion leadership programs that routinely sold out within 24 hours. So far, she and her team of three—the company also uses a handful of contractors—have provided almost 200 B.C. tech sector leaders with intensive D&I leadership training.

The project was supposed to end after two years, but Hollingshead signed an extension this March that will result in more funding. “I’m having a lot of fun with it because we’ve made connections not just within the tech sector but beyond, with so many organizations that are supporting diversity and inclusion in different ways,” she notes.

“And not just our projects, but in supporting other organizations’ projects. It’s really inspiring to see the amount of collaboration toward diversifying the sector.”

The role and the work are something of a full-circle story for Hollingshead, who became a member of HR Tech Group earlier in her career. The company has grown from eight members in 1992 to some 500 today, representing more than 160 Western Canadian firms.

“It’s been so near and dear to my heart, so valuable as an HR leader in the tech sector,” Hollingshead says. “I think of the organization as a lifeboat—for many years, it was that for me as an HR person.”