Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why District M was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2018):
- District M employees enjoy a unique work environment where pets are welcome, and a fun and busy social calendar, from go-karting in Mont Tremblant to an annual ski day at Mont Sutton and weekly "5@7" gatherings
- District M's health benefits plan offers employees all the expected coverage, along with flexibility to enhance coverage through a wellness spending account
At district m, stock options help keep young talent
Much analysis has been devoted to deciphering what the new generation values in a job. Jean-François Côté has given it a lot of thought, too -- and he appears to have figured it out. Côté is co-founder and CEO of Montreal--based district m Inc., a programmatic advertising company that develops unique software products and services for the ad and publishing industries. And 80 per cent of his employees are millennials.
Making sure all of the people who work at district m -- whatever their ages -- are happy and engaged has been a priority for Côté , who started the company five years ago and has grown it to become the sixth-largest ad exchange in North America. "We know we can only be as good as the people who work here," he says. "I spent time, money and effort to make sure people love working here."
A "game changer" for district m is that in late 2016 Côté gave stock options to all employees -- his "districters" -- of a year or more with the firm. "All these young professionals dream of being entrepreneurs," he says. "They want to live the dream but don't necessarily have the means to. I say, 'Guys, this is your business; it's our business. Let's do the right thing to make sure we build up something unique here.' " It was, he adds, one of the smartest moves the company has made.
Emil Torma joined district m in 2016 after working in the industry for a while. "Before I joined, I just felt that district m was doing a lot of really exciting things that you just don't get to do working for a broadcaster or print company," says Torma, Vice-President of Programmatic Solutions. "That's why I made the move."
A real draw for Torma is that district m puts accountability for tasks, projects, targets and achievables onto the individual. "It's very focused on delivering its targets and its goals but making everyone accountable and part of the team contributes to those goals," he says. "For a company this size, it's still a very startup-ish mentality, and we're able to position the work and the goals front and centre."
From his own experience at other corporations, Torma says "you feel so disconnected from the point of the business, and you're just part of a department that's working on something but not really part of the whole picture." At district m, essentially everyone is involved in the projects. "And everyone is focused to really deliver what they're tasked to do."
Because a company like district m attracts younger people, the company is committed to employees' education and training. It has helped several employees through their MBAs and has financed university classes for others.
And every year, it welcomes five interns, particularly in the tech and sales departments. That commitment is a win-win for all involved: for the young employees, it's support for continued development; for district m, it's helping employees transform into skilled entrepreneurs who can undertake initiatives and help the company develop its next big product.
There are few 9 to 5 jobs at district m, but employees are compensated for their hard work with a competitive salary, a light-filled office in the vibrant Mile End neighbourhood, and plenty of events and post-work activities. All staff go to a resort for the annual planning meetings in September, there's a company soccer team and a yearly ski event, among other things.
"Now, people look for where they want to work -- they look for the perks," says Torma. "And all that is there. We want to build a business that attracts talent. We're a young, vibrant tech company, and that's where a lot of the younger demographic who are coming out of school with tech degrees or social science/management degrees want to work."