It started back in tenth grade – when it was time for course selection, Michelle Burrows enrolled in computer science as it was an easy course and sure-fire “A.” But after problem solving and design piqued their interest, Burrows continued taking computer science throughout the rest of high school and into postsecondary.
During their first year at Carleton University in Ottawa, Burrows was given the opportunity to participate in a research internship within the Carleton Computer Security Lab (CCSL). After exploring the realm of computer and Internet security, Burrows landed an exciting job at 2Keys Corporation.
Ottawa-based 2Keys, a national leader in cyber security and digital identity, was acquired by Interac Corp. in 2019. Since the companies merged, Burrows has been working on increasing digital accessibility and improving client-facing tools, along with creating an inclusive work environment. This includes implementing a policy and standards for client solutions and including an accessibility focus during design, development, and testing stages of product integration.
“Being part of the Diversity and Inclusion Council at both 2Keys and Interac has been really rewarding and there’s a lot we want to do,” says Burrows. “I have so many ideas that I want to do all at once but maturing our policies and providing different types of training for employees is the starting point.”
As a member of the LGBT2Q+ community, Burrows has learned firsthand that not all workplaces are inclusive and diverse, especially when it comes to the male-dominated tech industry.
“I’ve definitely walked into some offices for interviews and immediately thought, ‘Oh, I don’t fit in here’ because of the conservative atmosphere,” they say. “Any time I walk in and see a super homogenous picture, it’s never a picture that looks like me and it’s off-putting. It’s definitely affected where I choose to work and where I have ended up.”
Burrows suggests trusting your gut when it comes to finding a work environment that values individual differences.
“It’s so important to work for an organization where you feel comfortable. It takes so much less energy to exist somewhere if you’re able to relax. Plus, you’ll have more energy to put into your work or take with you at the end of the day.” they say.
Read Michelle’s full story here.