Republished from article on Chicago Tonight by Maya Miller.
Chicago Techweek returns for a sixth year next week, and CEO Amanda Signorelli says the five-day technology festival is making “a big and radical shift from the past.” Rather than offering the same events from past years, they’re revamping the format to highlight a special set of local companies—and to talk about diversity.
“The biggest goal is really to support growth-stage companies that are beginning to make a difference in the city,” Signorelli said.
Growth-stage companies are those valued at more than $10 million that have yet to reach Lyft or Instagram levels of success. Techweek’s mission is aimed at developing more of these so-called “hero companies.”
The leaders of 35 such companies, such as Jellyvision and Spot Hero, will discuss their business models and share best practices in Chicago’s growing technology landscape.
Techweek, the media company behind the event, is also focusing this year on diversity in the workplace.
A Women in Tech Breakfast on Thursday will examine issues women commonly face in the industry—along with possible solutions to them—from maintaining work-life balance to dealing with male-focused language in job descriptions.
“This is a way that you can make it easier for women to continue going up the ladder,” said Signorelli, who previously worked at the global management consulting company McKinsey & Company.
Kristi Zuhlke, CEO of the local market research start-up KnowledgeHound, says finding ways to combat workplace discrimination against women requires an all-inclusive approach.
“Women need to get together to talk about this, but we need to invite others in who can hear our stories, help support us and be our champions,” Zuhlke said.
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