The Victorian digital technology industry has a new collaborative voice calling for change: the #TechDiversity initiative involves a number of like-minded organisations and businesses that together amplify awareness and strengthen frameworks to increase the participation of women and minority groups in technology.

 

#TechDiversity has gained momentum in the wake of the Women in Technology Driving for Change event, held in August 2015. The resounding success of that inaugural dinner, combined with the drive and passion of a core group of professional Melbourne women, has led to the formation of a committee whose aim is the generation of conversation, collaboration and action among a committed #TechDiversity community.

“Our overall goal is to raise the profile of technology diversity and its impact on the digital economy,” said Deirdre Diamante, co-founder of #TechDiversity and Director of Mia, a company offering specialist advice on procurement practices to predominantly technology businesses. “The challenge of increasing female participation in the technology workforce is complex and requires broad commitment. We recognise that together our voice will be louder, our reach wider and our messages amplified.”

This collaborative approach will help #TechDiversity achieve its vision for inclusion to be built into all facets of the digital industry sector – specifically education, business, government and advertising culture.

The #TechDiversity leadership team comprises 13 representatives of industry organisations (including Australian Computer Society (ACS), Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Females in IT and Telecommunications, Vic ICT for Women, and SeniorPreneurs) and several businesses (including Mia, Artesian Venture Partners, Method9, Startupbootcamp, Optus and Nexec Leaders).

“Gender diversity is more about inclusion and mutual appreciation, than male versus female,” said Brendan MacDonald, ICT Account Manager Optus and #TechDiversity committee member. “By targeting a culture change within advertising, government, education and business sectors, we want to entice more women into our industry and encourage them to stay here. To achieve this change, both women and men are actively involved in #TechDiversity to drive strategic initiatives and programs.”

This year, quarterly networking functions will be held for members of the #TechDiversity community. The first of these, held to coincide with International Women’s Day in March 2016, attracted more than 50 members of the #TechDiversity community and was sponsored by Optus as a key partner.

#TechDiversity will also host a recognition and awards program and an annual gala dinner. Nominations for the recognition and rewards program will open mid May, with category winners announced in July. The gala dinner, to be held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 4 August 2016, will recognise leaders and champions of diversity, and celebrate initiatives and projects that drive diversity across the digital sector.

Chris Skipper-Conway, Chairperson for Vic ICT for Women, said: “At last year’s Women in Technology dinner, we put out the call for stories of brave innovators and strong women. This gives us all a far broader platform for sharing those stories, ideas, courage, and passion, which will pave the way for technology innovation and business success.”

“It’s becoming increasingly evident that diversity is the foundation for innovation and better business performance,” added Soozey Johnstone, Director Method9 and another co-founder of #TechDiversity. “It’s time to address cultural bias and get creative in our strategies to attract and retain women and minorities in the interest of a more collaborative, thriving Australia. I’m thrilled to be part of #TechDiversity in driving this important change.”

“This collaboration supports our December 2015 report, which addresses a mix of short and long-term initiatives, as well as genuine commitment by employers, educators and governments to tackling the issues of diversity,” said ACS Victoria Chair, Craig Horne. “ACS Victoria argues that there needs to be a fundamental and urgent change to the cultural mindset and attitudes to women and minorities in the workforce. This requires genuine, committed, outcome-focused leadership.”

To get involved or express interest in #TechDiversity, including the rewards and recognition program, please contact Deirdre Diamante on deirdre@miaconsulting.com.au.

Read Deirdre’s post on Why TechDiversity will help drive Melbourne’s economic growth.