Tech Solutions for Good: Reflections from our Q1 Briefing & First-Ever Ideathon

Tech Solutions for Good: Reflections from our Q1 Briefing & First-Ever Ideathon

Wow, what a day! Our first event of the year is in the books and whether you were able to join us or not, we wanted to recap day for you.

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On Thursday, January 31st, in partnership with the Mayor’s Women’s Office for Advancement and BU’s Hariri Institute for Computing, the BWWC hosted our Q1 member Briefing and first-ever Ideathon at Boston University. Check out the highlights below:

Founding of a Collaboration

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BWWC Co-Chair, Cathy Minehan, gave welcoming remarks to discuss the history of the Council’s collaboration with Mayor Martin. J. Walsh, Boston University, and the greater Boston business community.  


Data Science as a Tool for Change

Dr. Azer Bestavros, Founding Director of the Hariri Institute, gave a talk on empowering society through data science.

Dr. Azer Bestavros, Founding Director of the Hariri Institute, gave a talk on empowering society through data science.


Tech Solutions Addressing Real HR Challenges

Moderated by BWWC Executive Director, Shereen Shermak, we held a panel discussion on the tech solutions addressing employer challenges such as recruitment, retention, promotion, and flexibility for women of color, particularly women of color.

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We were joined by three technologists and founders of companies offering on the market tech solutions to the workforce:

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“Referrals aren’t the problem, it’s how we refer that needs to change.” - Vinayak Ranade, CEO & Founder of Drafted, on debunking the myth that referrals during the recruitment process fails diversity and inclusion efforts.” - Vinayak Ranade

Contact Vinayak and Learn More about Drafted

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“Right now, benefits [company perks] are a grab bag. But every person needs something different at different times in their lives. Employees with real needs felt isolated and I thought that maybe there was a way that tech could solve the problem.” - Amy Spurling of Compt

Contact Amy and Learn More about Compt

“Our product is primarily for shift workers… 60% of part time workers are women, who need to do so because of family demand. [Syrg] numerates every reason someone does or does not get a shift. Transparency is the most important part and allowing feedback.” - Rahkeem Morris

Contact Rahkeem and Learn More about Syrg


Ready, Set, Ideathon!

Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement, Tania Del Rio, welcomes teams

Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement, Tania Del Rio, welcomes teams

In addition to our quarterly briefing program, we wanted to offer a fun and interactive opportunity for signers and guests to collaborate on brainstorming potential tech solutions  addressing member-contributed HR issues. We split guests into teams tasked with the following issues:

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Attendees formed teams, broke down their assigned issue, brainstormed ideas, created a business plan for their selected idea to solve the issue.


Lunch n’ Learn

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After the team brainstorm session, we were joined by Andrei Lapets, BU Professor of Computer Science and Director of The Software & Application Innovation Lab (SAIL) at the Hariri Institute for Computing to discuss the multi-party computation (MPC) used for pay gap analysis and other social issues


Building Bridges

Feedback Panelists (left to right): Ian Mashiter (BUild Lab), Lucy Qin (SAIL), Enna Jimenez (ALPFA-Boston), Katharine Lusk (Initiative on Cities - BU)

Feedback Panelists (left to right): Ian Mashiter (BUild Lab), Lucy Qin (SAIL), Enna Jimenez (ALPFA-Boston), Katharine Lusk (Initiative on Cities - BU)

The day culminated into team presentations. Teams were to present to a panel of feedback panelists on their tech solution to address their assigned issue. We heard ideas ranging from mobile apps to corporate softwares. The winning team, Team #3, built a platform titled ‘Bridges’ to help enhance and strengthen the relationship between employees and HR. Congratulations to all teams!

When we understand that a certain skill set is not necessary to create ideas, the best brainstorming happens. And that is what we truly witnessed at our first-ever ideathon. We were encouraged by the room’s eagerness to address these experienced HR challenges with tangible solutions. You can catch fuller notes from the day in the document below:


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