New alliance to bolster tech sector diversity challenges

Stuart Mason

There is finally a growing recognition across the tech sector that workforce diversity is crucial, both as social good and an economic imperative.

Individual companies and the industry in general are much more aware of the importance of diversity when hiring, and Australia is driving this trend in the local region.

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Australia consistently ranks among the world’s biggest hirers for diversity and inclusion (D&I) jobs, which are roles that aim to promote diversity and inclusion in an organisation.

It places second only to the United Kingdom when it comes to the number of diversity, inclusion and belonging roles per every 10,000 employees.

And the same data shows that global diversity roles are up by 71 per cent over the last five years.

But there is far less awareness and action around improving these companies for diverse people and minorities once they have been hired, and in transforming the rhetoric around diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) into meaningful action.

That’s where the new TechDiversity Academy comes in.

With a newly formed partnership between Cahoot Learning and Diversity Atlas delivers courses, workshops, leadership sessions, peer-to-peer networking and mentorship opportunities in an effort to progress diversity, equity and inclusion across the Australian tech sector.

There needs to be a fundamental shift in the tech sector towards supporting diversity in all its forms across all elements of a business’s operations, not just its hiring, Diversity Atlas’s Veronica Pardo says.

“We fundamentally need to change the mindsets within tech organisations to make diversity, equity and inclusion a number one business priority,” Ms Pardo said. “It’s about changing the system and unlocking the value,”

“There’s currently a lack of education, training and development tools to help raise the standards of the industry. We want to shift the dial away from traditional ways of thinking about diversity – from a passive one to a much more transformational way of thinking about work.”

The TechDiversity Academy program will help tech companies practically implement their rhetoric around diversity and inclusion, and to harness the economic potential of a welcoming workplace with a diversity of views and experiences.

“It’s for organisations that have a clear progressive agenda and are looking to innovate, and are already thinking about diversity as a key, not just culturally but the ways different world views are incorporated into thinking about innovation,” Ms Pardo continued.

“It’s about moving to values based on equity and operationalising these in a way that is meaningful for workers. These sorts of things haven’t necessarily been attached to a leadership profile, but organisations that want to be ahead of the curve are turning their minds to these initiatives.”

The TechDiversity Academy program consists of three streams: data, situational and transformational. It will run for 12 months and will be on offer for practitioners, managers, leaders and teams.

A major focus is on improving data collection systems, which are currently “pretty poor and superficial”, Ms Pardo said, and mostly focus on gender and culture.

“There are lots of ways to use data more intelligently to give us a competitive advantage. To focus not just on diverse hiring but diverse talent pipelines, and make sure that leadership teams – not just entry-level positions – reflect diversity.,” she said.

Through the Cahoot Learning Platform, participants will be given a broad, intersectional perspective to help them understand the key elements required to create more inclusive workplaces.

This will go far beyond just encouraging diverse recruitment – with a focus needed on how a business operates and whether it encourages the growth and development of all employees, rather than just the hiring of them.

“It’s about how an organisation is structured and the experience of its people,” Ms Pardo said.

“We want to help tech organisations to transform by including a more diverse workforce and capitalising on the innovation it brings.”

“There’s a new and interesting conversation emerging about the benefits of diversity but that cautions against perpetuating harm within organisations, for people who don’t have mainstream or dominant cultural backgrounds.”

Embracing these concepts and creating a more diverse and inclusive company is also a boon for economic development and growth.

“Economic benefits can be derived from maximising the impact of a diverse workforce,” Ms Pardo said.

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TechDiversity is a member of the Editorial Leadership Council.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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