As we strive towards making our business more inclusive and diverse, it’s critically important to us to build those aspects into our early career programs to help shape the workforce of the future.

Our Summer Vacation Program gives university students in their penultimate year of study 12 weeks of hands-on work experience and development opportunities. We set ourselves ambitious diversity targets for those joining this program and we met all of these targets with our 2020 intake. In fact, we exceeded several of our goals, including our 50/50 male/female hiring target with 73% female candidates hired, and our Indigenous hiring target of 5% – we were able to recruit 8% of candidates from an Indigenous background. Importantly we met our 10% target for people living with disability.

One of the students joining our summer program is Adam Saunders, who came to us through our partnership with CareerTrackers. This partnership is part of our commitment to improving participation of Indigenous Australians in the workforce and developing future talent.

Adam’s earlier experience with CareerTrackers sets him in good stead for the rapid-fire immersion in all parts of our business that comes with being an intern.

“My experience with CareerTrackers has been amazing – it’s obvious that the program invests a lot into interns. There’s support to develop structured goals with workshops, and programs to develop professionally and academically. CareerTrackers has been able to give me such an advantage by providing workplace experience while at university, and this has assisted my studies significantly.”

Adam’s path towards a career at Telstra has been shaped through his study at Griffith University, which has given him the technical background and experience for his role while also focusing on the critical importance of soft skills in the workplace.

“My time studying at Griffith University helped me build core IT skills like coding and programming, analytics and data management and computer networking. In these courses there’s still a big focus on developing soft skills, with course assignments requiring group work that involves communicating, delegating, critical thinking and problem solving. All of this has helped develop my confidence.

“I’m excited for the Summer Vacation Program – it’ll be another opportunity for me to further develop my skills in the workplace by applying theory practically, while being in a supportive environment. This will be my first rotation into a new team outside of InfraCo Wholesale, which has become an area of interest for me to potentially pursue in the future.”

We’ve got a big focus on improving diversity and inclusion at Telstra which is helping shape a more diverse and inclusive future workforce.

We recently collaborated with UTS, one of our university partners, on a hackathon as part of its U@Uni Academy that helps guide high school students from Year 10 into potential university study. Participants were challenged to imagine a future where equality of opportunity is central to our society – and specifically a future where business is active in combating disadvantage through hiring practices and organisational culture.

Students were asked to present to a panel of industry judges with a response to the question “How might an organisation implement a diversity and inclusion initiative to attract and hire early talent?” It was a great experience, and I was extremely happy to meet and connect with such engaged students. Hearing from those with diverse backgrounds talk about their experiences, aspirations and suggestions for embedding diversity and inclusion deeper into business was a timely reminder that as we strive towards our own targets, the next generation is already imagining new paths and approaches to the same goals.

We know that that we can make significant changes to diversity and inclusion by extending our impact beyond our people and processes to influencing the workforce of the future. There is always more to do, but we’re proud of the change we’re helping to effect.