A celebration of changemakers: TechDiversity Awards 2022

Brandon How

In a celebration of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the tech sector, #TechDiversity held its annual awards night on Thursday to recognise and pay tribute to the champions of the sector.

This year’s edition of the TechDiversity Awards was held at the Sofitel in Melbourne and welcomed more than 470 attendees. The awards recognise and put a spotlight on those who are leading diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives across gender and minority groups in the tech sector.

During the event, TechDiversity director Luli Adeyemo unveiled a new program called the TechDiversity Academy, which will be available from July. The academy will deliver courses, workshops, leadership sessions, peer-to-peer networking, and mentoring to drive diversity and inclusion – D&I – within the tech workforce.

“We’re taking the bull by the horns a little bit because what we’ve realised over the last couple of years is there’s a lack of education, training, and development tools to help raise the standards of the industry,” Ms Adeyemo said.

TechDiversity director Luli Adeyemo

“We fundamentally need to change the mindsets within tech organisations. We are going to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a number one priority. It’s not about individual actors or activities, it’s about changing the systems. The academy is about providing the actual support, the education, and the frameworks and methodologies to do that.”

When engaging with state governments Ms Adeyemo said they often responded very positively about the need for diversity, but this did not translate into action. However, she highlighted Tech Central as an example of an initiative that was willing to take action on D&I.

Hosted since 2016, the awards are supported by the Victorian state government, digital and cloud service provider Avanade, property business REA Group, the Australian Computer Society, and cloud service provider Salesforce as well as several organisations pushing for (D&I) change in the tech sector.

Ms Adeyemo said this year’s event was “incredibly important”, particularly as it underwent three Covid-related cancellations and there was no 2020 edition.

“There are some things you can’t replicate online. It’s a celebration, but the main value when it comes to in-person is networking and getting to meet new people, getting to share stories and have conversations,” Ms Adeyemo said.

Winning D&I initiatives were represented across eight categories. There were also a number of merit recipients whose initiatives were honoured on the night. The wining initiatives are listed below with the organisation running the program in brackets:

  • Business: STEM Sisters (STEM Sisters)
  • Education: Generation Australia (Generation Australia)
  • Government: Tailored Talent Program (NSW Public Service Commission & Specialisterne Australia)
  • Marketing, Media, and Advertising: Return to Work Program (ANZ)
  • Tech for Good: Diversity Atlas (Cultural Infusion)
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity: Xceptional (Xceptional)
  • Environmental Sustainability: SolA 2021 (Solar Analytics)
  • Health and Wellbeing: Zooming in on a vision for health & well-being (Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria)
  • Social Impact: She’s A Crowd (She’s A Crowd)

Speaking to InnovationAus.com, Ms Adeyemo highlighted the Diversity Atlas run by intercultural not-for-profit Cultural Infusion. The platform provides an analysis and visualisation of the demographic makeup of a company.

“Beyond age, they don’t really understand the true diversity within the organization. Because until we can truly understand who we currently are, how can we define and determine who we want to be?,” Ms Adeyemo asked.

“I think unless we approach this as an industry, we have a clear understanding of who we are and who we want to be. And we’re never going to get the incremental change and impact as needed.”

A pilot of the Tailored Talent Program was launched in 2020 to help autistic individuals find work in skilled public service roles at New South Wales Public Service Commission agencies including Transport NSW, Sydney Trains, Greater Sydney Commission, Department of Customer Service and NSW Police.

The program was launched in partnership with Specialisterne Australia, a group dedicated to helping autistic individuals find work as well as helping businesses to hire autistic individuals. This includes helping minimise barriers that may exist in traditional hiring practices and developing a companies’ capability to support autistic staff.

Specialisterne was originally founded in Denmark in 2004 and gets its name from the Danish word for ‘The Specialists’.

Tech startup She’s A Crowd was honoured in the Social Impact category for their use of crowdsourced data to help improve the safety of women and gender-diverse people in cities. She’s A Crowd has produced an insights delivery dashboard which can display reported incidents of gender-based violence in the community on a digital map. Each mapped incident is attached with its story and can be further sorted by demographic, time of day, motivation, and a number of other categories.

The organisation most recently worked with the Victorian Department of Transport to help the department improve the safety of women and gender-diverse people. Over a 12-month period more than 1,000 geo-locative stories and a report were made available to the department using the She’s A Crowd data insights dashboard.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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