Team diversity is imperative to innovation success

Brandon How

With the entry deadline approaching in less than two-weeks, the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence is driving to be a competition that both highlights the best and brightest people and organisations in Australia, and is also an exemplar advocate for diversity within innovation teams.

The InnovationAus Awards for Excellence 2022 is the second edition of the six-month program that aims to highlight and celebrate the Australian innovation ecosystem. Community members are encouraged to enter any of the 13 InnovationAus Awards on offer. Applicants are asked as a part of the entry process how a team enriched with diversity led to amazing products and services.

The final deadline for entries is June 20, 2022. Finalists will be announced in September with a black-tie gala planned for November 17.

Corrie McLeod, Publisher publisher Corrie McLeod highlighted the importance of building diversity, equity, and inclusion within the tech sector.

“It will take a sustained and focused effort from all of us to ensure that we have – and can see – true diversity across our sector. Technology and innovation will continue to play an increasingly central role in our lives and it is vital that those who are building these products bring a diversity of views and experience.” Ms McLeod said.

“Winning awards helps build the cultural context for what innovation is and who can produce it. We want the community to champion each other and nominate a company founder to enter, particularly someone who might need a little bit of encouragement.

Ms McLeod also noted that diversity isn’t just about men and women but needs to encapsulate the full spectrum of people’s gender, sexuality, cultural, neurodiverse, and religious backgrounds.

“All of our award winners last year, bar one, were white men. That’s not because there is no diversity in the Australian innovation ecosystem, rather it’s indicative of a lack of diversity in nominations. There is important work being done across the ecosystem by companies from a diverse set of backgrounds and to not highlight that is a disservice to innovation,” she said.

Ms McLeod wants the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence to be an exemplar program that showcases the inclusive and diverse organisations that, as a result, are also first-class innovators with excellent problem-solving capabilities.

“We can just look back a couple of weeks to the TechDiversity Awards to get a conception of how we can, and should, be looking at diversity. There were 271 attendees that responded to the Diversity Atlas survey at the event which represented 86 cultural heritages and 70 languages were represented. Furthermore, 16.6 per cent of the audience identified as LGBTIQ.” Ms McLeod said.

“Advocating for diversity is not some ideological utopia, it is accepting and reflecting the everyday reality of innovation in Australia.”

Catherine Frieman, an associate professor of archaeology at the Australian National University, used the introduction to her book ‘An Archaeology of Innovation’ to remind us that innovation is culturally loaded, a concept molded by the context it’s used in.

She points out that although innovation has positive connotations in the Anglo-sphere, it can be historically wrapped up in the imagery of a Eurocentric Industrial Revolution and hence the technological dominance that facilitated colonisation.

The 2022 InnovationAus Awards for Excellence have been made possible with the support of our sponsors: NSW Government, Tech Council of Australia, Verizon, Q-Ctrl, Agile Digital, Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC), Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), METS Ignited, and Mimecast.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

1 Comment
  1. Digital Koolaid 2 years ago

    We must ask Corrie how “diversity, equity and inclusion within the tech sector” are significant, and how “gender, sexuality, cultural, neurodiverse, and religious backgrounds” are important. Not to pre-empt her answer, I can’t recall these being influential in the invention of the microprocessor, TCP/IP, Structured Query Language, Relational Database Management Systems, NTFS, routers, multiplexing, digital signal processing, compilers, HTML or the many other technologies that are in service today. Ms McLeod advocates for “diversity” without defining it. The article uses the word “diversity” 11 times without defining it. If applicants are asked as a part of the entry process how a team enriched with diversity led to amazing products and services, perhaps they might define it. It will be very interesting to understand how preferring to have sex with one’s own gender, or being uncertain if one is male or female could have a real-world impact on one’s ability to invent the World Wide Web. Let’s watch the awards with interest.

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