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Lyft brings competition to Uber just in time for the holidays

Lyft is coming to Toronto!

Lyft is the second most popular ride-hailing app and has been around in the United States since 2012, three years after the launch of Uber.  The service will make their first introduction to the international market in Toronto, with a plan to start their business up by the end of the year. This will provide a healthy dose of competition for Uber, a company that is not that popular within the city. In October of 2015, Toronto city council amended a bylaw allowing Uber to operate after the company was hit with a lawsuit filed by the taxi and limo drivers industry in Toronto.

Uber welcomes the competition from Lyft, as Lyft’s president John Zimmer said in a statement. “We see [Toronto] as a world class city. It will likely become one of our top five markets overall,” he said. “As a city, that really shares the values that we have at Lyft- focusing on people taking care of people, treating people well, treating people with mutual respect, and promoting both inclusion and diversity.”

While Uber has faced criticism in the past few months in some major cities, including London and Montreal, Lyft has been increasing its market share in the U.S. and even recorded a growth of  $1.6 billion in financing this past year alone. The company says they are now worth $11bn. In May 2017 , Lyft struck a deal with Google’s Waymo, in order to develop self-driving cars.

The services offered by Lyft are very similar to Uber, complete with reduced prices. But, the launch of  Lyft is  also drawing criticism from the taxi industry operating in Toronto. Beck Taxi, one of the more popular taxi services operating in Toronto, said that Lyft can generate the same amount of negative consequences as Uber, referencing sex assault cases. This all has to do with the qualifications and background information of available drivers.

Lyft has began placing calls for drivers. They plan to launch next month, just in time for the holidays. Lyft will be operating in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton and have released five options that Torontonians can look forward to:

  • Regular vehicles for up to four passengers
  • Vehicles that can carry six passengers ( The plus service)
  • High end cars ( premier)
  • Luxury black cars ( Lux and Lux SUV )

No pricing information has been released, but it is expected to be in the same range as Uber pricing, hopefully with promotional discounts considering this will be their Toronto launch. Lyft has also announced it has its eyes on other major cities, including London, U.K..

It will be interesting to see how different Lyft will be in comparison to Uber and how the Toronto Taxi industry will continue to survive.

What are your thoughts on Lyft launching in Toronto and will you be trying this over Uber ? Comment below.

EDITORIAL: What’s the value of an employee?

What’s the value of an employee? Better yet, what’s the value of a human life?

A few weeks ago, the Ontario Liberal government announced a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 in the next few years. After the press releases were handed out, two things happened — low-paying workers rejoiced and businesses started complaining.

Small businesses argued they wouldn’t be able to stay afloat if they had to dedicate more funds to their employees. Larger industries also criticized the government’s decision, saying they will be forced to cut down on labour and raise the prices of their services.

As someone who understands the perils of living on minimum wage, I don’t exactly sympathize. But, it’s one thing to make a business-case argument and another to dismiss the value of having a hardworking (and well-paid) employee at all.

In Tuesday’s morning paper, I saw an advertisement doing exactly that.

In the ad, a woman is standing at a counter preparing to take a customer’s card and complete a transaction. The text reads: “The Ontario government has announced a devastating 31.6 per cent increase in the general minimum wage. Quick Service Restaurant operators now have a choice….More than $15.00/hour or only $2.50/hour.” The advertisement is for a self-serving order kiosk, by RT7 Incorporated. Under the picture of the machine is a list of benefits such as “never comes late”, “no coffee breaks”, “no overtime”, and “doesn’t complain.”

This advertisement isn’t about technology or the future of restaurants — it’s about an employer who thinks his/her workers aren’t worth the sick days and overtime pay. It’s about labelling everything that employee does as something not deserving of being fairly compensated.

And that is absolutely unacceptable.

Advertisements like this one are incredibly dangerous. It makes the assumption that every day human actions like getting coffee or getting sick are somehow of detriment to a company. That human beings, especially those paid minimum wage, complain too much and use social media (a.k.a. are irresponsible).

This is not a stereotype that should be allowed to spread.

As Ontario pushes forward this new legislation, it’s important to remember that employees are, more often than not, hard workers. Many have large student loans or families to support. They may have a second job or may be in school. All they want to do is be able to afford a place to live and food to eat. It’s not that much of an ask, right?

If a business can’t afford their employees, they shouldn’t be allowed to remain open. It’s as simple as that. And anyone who thinks a kiosk can replace a human being, obviously hasn’t had to call the cable company.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Reynolds

Jennifer Reynolds, president and CEO of Women in Capital Markets (WCM), thinks there is an ingrained corporate and economic culture that is to blame for the lack of gender equality within the financial industry. The number of women in positions of power has stagnated, and in 2017, that isn’t a good thing.

“I think sometimes people aren’t aware that Canada has fallen behind in terms of women in senior roles, on boards for examples,” Reynolds said. “Our representation is 12 per cent. Europe has representation up to 30-40 per cent. We, as a country, have fallen really far behind.”

WCM is the largest network of professional women in the Canadian capital markets. This group of women try to educate younger generations in the finance industry to consider careers in capital markets and advocate for greater gender diversity on boards and senior management. The organization hosts over 80 events a year and leads a number of campaigns, both in-person and online.

Reynolds became involved with WCM in 2000 and started volunteering for the then-grassroots organization helping educate young high school girls about careers involving math. She also volunteered for the mentorship program.

“When I graduated in 1994, I thought our generation would be the one where women would have leadership roles in the economy,” she said.

Obviously, WCM had an influence on Reynolds because she remained an active member of the organization for 13 years before becoming the president and CEO. The organization is shaking things up a bit under Reynold’s leadership, trying not only educate young women as to the many opportunities in finance and capital markets, but also trying to involve men in the dialogue.

“Most of these initiatives was about women discussing diversity. It took us a long time to get here, but now we are getting there and we have to involve men in the discussion because they are in senior leadership roles and we need to have dialogue with them to encourage progress,” she said.  “We need to give them a voice and an opportunity to see what they can do personally.”

One of the WCM programs Reynolds is most proud of is Return to Bay Street, an award that helps women return to the workforce after a career break. Each award-winning woman will receive a minimum four-month long paid contract with a sponsoring financial institution, $5,000 towards an education program, access to a WCM mentor, as well as a one-year membership with WCM.

Return to Bay Street is in its sixth year and will be accepting applications until April 13, 2017.

“Too often for women, if you need to take a break, it’s hard to come back,” Reynolds said. “You fall off the track because people think your skills are stale. [Return to Bay Street] helps replenish the pipeline for senior leadership. It brings back senior talent.”

Reynolds studied economics and political science at McGill University with the intention of becoming a lawyer. She found herself enjoying her economics classes immensely, and after four years decided she was better off in business.

“I ended up, fortunately, getting to know some people in the investment industry … and it sounded like a great career — fast paced, opportunity to travel, rewarding,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds worked with the Bank of Montreal as director of capital markets for 10 years before moving on to work with WCM. She is also on the board of the Canadian Development Investment Corporation, a crown corporation that works for the federal minister of finance and is responsible for a number of initiatives.

Reynolds thoroughly enjoys working on the board. In addition to her role with the Canadian Development Investment Corporation, she is also the director on the board of Studio 190, an independent, Toronto-based theatre company.  For her, being on various boards allows her to explore different industries and be creative. It’s also a great way to diversify her network.

As Reynolds explains, every organization has a president and CEO that runs the business, but that person reports to a board, “a bunch of senior people with expertise who help guide strategic vision.” This can be everything from where the company should be heading to overseeing financial statements — it’s also why it’s so important that boards be gender diverse.

“So, what does it matter? It matters because I think women should be part of creating strategic missions of businesses and companies in Canada,” Reynolds said. “From a purely data and research perspective, studies that show if you have that gender diverse boards, it makes your business more profitable. But, you need that diversity on your board – and from a common sense perspective, if you are recruiting from 50 per cent of talent pool, you’ve got to be limiting yourself. You are not getting the best. It’s common sense.”

How do companies do that? Reynolds said it takes two steps. The first is to actually hire women in positions of power and the second is to change your business’ culture. It all starts with statistics, ensuring the company counts and measures everything. “How many women in each level of organization, how long does promotion take, wage gap at each level, then you will figure out what the problem is. Is it that your leadership team only brings forward candidates that are men and non-minority, for example,” Reynolds said.

“If you leave it to chance, it won’t happen. But, if I have anything to say about it, it’s going to change!”

 

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Female hip hop producers battle for their place

Battle of the Beatmakers is an annual competition in Toronto that showcases up-and-coming hip hop producers. Winners receive cash and prizes, as well as an opportunity to work with big names in the industry.

Thirty-two producers competed this year, including two women: LittleSister and EveKey.  This was the same number, and the same producers, who competed in last year’s Battle of the Beatmakers. After the show, Women’s Post caught up with the two producers to see how they felt about being the only women in the competition, and to talk about the gender disparity that continues to persist in the hip hop industry.

Both women emphasized the need to support each other in competition because of their status as female producers. “She is a very genuine soul and a good person,” LittleSister said of EveKey. “I want to give her support and show her I’ve got her back. There aren’t too many of us [females] in the industry. When it comes to relating to each other, it is more comfortable for girls to talk to each other so it’s nice.”

LittleSister did very well in the competition, making it to the semifinals before being eliminated by fellow contestant, C-Sharp. The judges were very supportive of both female producers and the crowd was immensely excited to see the women on stage.

By Kaeleigh Phillips
LittleSister Competing By Kaeleigh Phillips

At the same time, women are often marginalized in hip hop and it is challenging to climb the ladder to a position of power, such as the role of producer.

Despite the number of women within the music industry — artists, producers, engineers, songwriters, beat makers, managers, ect. — women are often still thought of as lesser than their male counterparts. “I think that across the board there are gender disparities in terms of the perception that the music industry and the hip hop industry is a ‘man’s world’ so women often have to work twice as hard to prove themselves,” says Priya Ramanujam, editor in chief of Urbanology, one of the lead sponsors of Battle of the Beatmakers.

Interestingly, both LittleSister and EveKey emphasized the positive support they receive in the industry as producers. “Working with male artists, they were more open to receiving female opinions,” EveKey said. “It seems they enjoy working with a female producer. It is a fresh perspective.” Oftentimes, being a producer puts a person in a position of power in hip hop and this dynamic helps to endow the two women with a sense of equality.

“Hip hop does marginalize, but it is changing,” LittleSister reiterated. “Women have power positions now. Women are on the forefront but behind the scenes as well. Other women like Wondergurl, Kid Sister, and Missy Elliot are helping to open up power positions. The business side is very different from the music side of the industry. If you want to make money, gender doesn’t matter.” She also noted there was one case where a male client made sexist remarks towards her, and let his pride get in the way or business.  She chose not to work with him again.

By Kaeleigh Phillips
EveKey at the Opera House By Kaeleigh Phillips

A study by Rana Emerson, a professor at the University of Texas, called “Where My Girls At?’ Negotiating Black Womanhood in Music Videos”* suggests that it is much easier for a woman to enter the industry into hip hop music when sponsored or associated with a man who is already established within it. Often, women have to choose whether to take the necessary partnership or to embark solo.

This was the choice that both EveKey and LittleSister faced—and they both decided to take their chances alone in the industry. “In general, it is difficult for a producer to come out on their own. It has to be built from the bottom up. Having male mentorship is a part of the way it is. It is about whether you want to choose to be on your own or not,” said LittleSister.

LittleSister in First Round By Kaeleigh Phillips
LittleSister in First Round By Kaeleigh Phillips

The choice to be an independent female producer in hip hop is a daunting one, but women like LittleSister and EveKey pave the way for others.

For young women trying to get into the industry, Ramanujam encourages them not to be afraid of the work. The more women who take the leap into hip hop and music production, the more others will be inspired to do so.

“Be prepared to be doubted and second guessed, to always have to prove yourself,” she says. “Again, this is not necessarily unique to hip-hop. But also remember that by taking the leap of faith and doing it, whether you know it or not, another young woman on the come up is watching, and may decide to follow in your footsteps because she sees another woman doing it. For me, that alone is worth what I go through.”

*With Files from hip hop enthusiast, Holly Jane