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Tag: diversity-and-inclusion

Launching #RadicalGenerosity in Australia: the SheEO story

Tech and Innovation

Posted on May 17, 2018

3 min read

Today we announced the Australian SheEO launch, proudly supported by Telstra and CommBank’s Women in Focus program. Australia will officially be the fourth country where SheEO is launching. And the momentum is intoxicating.

My entire career path has always been working towards a better world. As an educator in an Atlanta school system I worked to provide a meaningful education to underserved 3rd and 4th graders – a safe environment for them to be wildly creative and explorative, and much-needed technology support and hands-on curriculum in a middle school.

For nearly 15 years I worked in corporate foundations with an incredible team, providing purposeful opportunities for employees to volunteer in their community or across the world, and providing nonprofit organisations resources to help them execute their mission — from addressing homelessness, solving world hunger, finding cures for diseases, or accessing quality education.

My work with SheEO Radical Generosity adds to my purpose — on an economic, societal, and personal level.

Economic: Currently only 4 per cent of VC capital goes towards women. So we created a new financing model for female-led ventures and female investors through #radicalgenerosity. Less than 1 per cent of corporate procurement goes to women-led businesses. So we created a network to help make those connections and introductions.

Societal: Less than 5 per cent of female entrepreneurs have mentors. So we created a personalised, guided development program and a network of 1000 women to support ventures. Less than 19 per cent of business news mentions ventures led by women. So we are amplifying the impact of women-led ventures.

Personal: Doing this work, inviting women and men to believe in creating a new economic model, keeps me sane and happy. It supports my purpose. I get to be a pioneer in creating something new — again — to be on the ground floor. I get to be a part of a group of incredible humans who “get it” — these people with whom I want to surround myself and connect my heart-forward smart friends.

While I strongly dislike asking for money, I find that SheEO is about asking for support for an idea and a movement that is a possible solution to something that hasn’t been working for decades. And it’s keeping me hopeful.

Founded by serial Canadian entrepreneur, Vicki Saunders, SheEO Radical Generosity is funded by at least 500 radically generous women per city called Activators. Instead of a handful of partners making large singular investments ($100,000+), a thousand women commit to a $1100 contribution, 90 per cent of which will be loaned out to women-led ventures (in a zero-interest loan) paid back over five years, and reinvested perpetually. The Activators select the ventures. Our community is made up of entrepreneurs, executives, public leaders, and everyday citizens.

Women4Tech: 10 lessons from women leading with courage

Inspiration

Posted on March 9, 2018

2 min read

At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I had the pleasure of attending Facebook’s Women Leading with Courage panel discussion.

It was inspiring to see such a group of talented, smart and authentic leaders in action – made even more striking in that it was probably the only panel at the week-long event with women getting to do all the talking.

Here are 10 points that resonated with me:

  1. Live your own identity – not somebody else’s vision of power or success or how you should do your job.
  2. Small acts of courage really matter, especially in the workplace. Call out unacceptable behaviour no matter who is involved.
  3. At a time of fear or indecision, call your biggest cheerleader and ask them for advice.
  4. Surround yourself, both at work and outside of work, with the people who make you feel good about yourself and the ‘disagreeable givers’ who keep you real.
  5. Have the courage to communicate your ambitions – it’s your life, your career. Don’t shy away from the conversations that are difficult and require courage but are crucial to success.
  6. Understand how your team members like to be recognised. Recognition and positive re-enforcement are important, but they aren’t always done well.
  7. Make your own teams fearless by being courageous and being a role model. By overcoming your fear, you will help them do the same.
  8. If you’re a parent, or are going to be one, create rules around how you do your job – and make sure you don’t sweat the small stuff.
  9. Find those men who will give you clear practical advice, who will open the door (figuratively!) and let you succeed and fail successfully.
  10. Don’t allow anyone to misrepresent your energy, passion and knowledge as being ‘assertive’ or ‘bossy’. These characteristics are what makes you strong and powerful.

A comment that really stuck with me was the role we can all play for those coming behind us. One panellist said that when she opened those (figurative) doors she was determined to keep them open to let more women flow through.

I’m proud to work in a company that allows me, and other women, to thrive. If you’d like to know more what Telstra is doing to support gender equality in the workplace, read our commitment to improving diversity.

Achieving gender equality: our bias for action

Inspiration

Posted on March 7, 2018

6 min read

International Women's Day 2018: Achieving gender equality - our bias for action

As organisations move away from traditional command-and-control structures, a diverse and inclusive culture makes a fundamental difference in attracting and retaining the best talent to accelerate cultural change.

There is no single way to embrace diversity and encourage greater participation of under-represented groups, particularly for a business of our size and scope. Instead, real change is the cumulative effect of both developing a deep understanding of the entrenched practices that prevent participation and finding different ways to address barriers.

A major focus for our business is gender equality, an area where we continue to develop and roll out different ways to introduce true change – some big, some small. Here are five ways we’re addressing this challenge.

  1. Knowing what we’re reaching for

We can’t achieve greater gender equality without knowing the objectives we need to meet – especially in an organisation with a large proportion of traditionally male-dominated roles.

Our Board sets clear targets for gender representation as part of our broader commitment to diversity and inclusion.  We have a goal to reach a female representation level of 32 per cent across our business by 30 June 2018. Our overall gender balance last financial year was a little over 30 percent female, so we still have more to do.

Gender pay equity continues to be another key area of focus and we remain vigilant about how we administer and apply policy to avoid any bias in performance assessment and remuneration decisions. When we compare pay on like-for-like roles, the gender gap as at 30 June 2017 is two percent Being transparent about this with our employees and publicly is critical if we want to make sure we are living up to our values and commitment to gender equity.

To work towards gender pay equity, we examine our remuneration data across all business units every year to identify any pay disparities that can’t be explained by factors such as levels of performance or role type. Each business unit has a dedicated budget for correcting disparities and we closely monitor the application of this budget to ensure funds are distributed in line with our core principles. Gender equality and pay equity are separate yet connected issues – improvements in one will lead to improvements in the other.

  1. Shifting the balance through focused action

While all recruitment and promotion decisions are based on selecting the best person for the role, strengthening our female talent pipeline is imperative.

In March last year, we were proud to mark International Women’s Day by introducing a Global Recruitment Equality Procedure, a requirement that recruitment and interview shortlists include at least 50 per cent female representation.

Nearly a year later, we are seeing strong results. As at January 2018, women represent around 50 per cent of interview shortlists compared to 35.5 per cent prior to implementation; this includes those roles with a 25 per cent target given the recognised shortages in the supply for some of roles – something we need to change too! The more gender balanced shortlists are translating into an increase in female hires. A simple approach is making a real difference.

  1. Finding new ways to support women at different stages of their careers

We have other targets to meet, including 40 per cent female non-executive directors and female promotion rates greater than female representation in our business by 2020. We need new ways of making this happen; we need to address some of the challenges women can face during their careers, such as taking time out to be a primary care giver or to pursue other interests.

One way forward is a new program we have developed to specifically help talented and experienced senior people to return to the workforce after a period of at least two years away.

Participants will have the opportunity to join our business in a valued and challenging role, with additional support and guidance to make a smooth transition back into corporate life. We’re currently working on placing 14 successful candidates in the pilot program in one of our major business units; if successful, it’s a model we hope to roll out throughout the business. The passion and calibre of the applicants was amazing with many shared stories of the significant challenges of trying to re-enter the workforce after an extended period away.

  1. Encouraging different generations to bridge the technical skills gap

Like most organisations, we have a clear gender imbalance in some areas of our business: bringing more women into roles where there is a known significant gender imbalance in the job market is an ongoing challenge.

We’re taking a number of approaches – both short and long-term – to drive applications and target active female job seekers right now, to reach women at early stages in their careers or at a university level, and to invest in generational programs to encourage more women to choose a technology-focused career path.

Investing in education initiatives like ‘code clubs’ for girls in schools and digital making parties focused on building STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and digital citizenship skills in grassroots communities, classrooms and public libraries across Australia makes a difference.

  1. Actively seeking different thinking

Innovation and the ideas to disrupt the status quo to drive diversity and inclusion can come from anywhere in the organisation – top down from the leadership team, bottom up from the front line, and everywhere in between. The challenge is to bring the great ideas to light.

One way we’re nurturing different ways of thinking about gender equality is through Brilliant Connected Women, a vibrant and active network of almost 3,000 Telstra women and men who champion gender diversity and equality.

Part of Telstra’s Diversity and Inclusion program, the network is open to all employees and connects women at all levels through networking, mentoring, educational forums and events, and a focus on transforming our environment to further the inclusion of women.

None of these actions will bring about gender equality on their own – and nor do we intend stopping here. In the same way digital technologies are revolutionising our world, there is a need to search relentlessly for better solutions to support diversity and inclusion.

In a world where change comes from a bias for action and bold ideas, one thing we cannot do is get comfortable.

More CEOs named Joan than John? How VR may tip the balance

Tech4Good

Posted on January 25, 2018

3 min read

There’s a reason why the Remarkable Accelerator has such a bold name. In part it’s the Remarkable ideas behind each of the program’s tech4good startups. But mostly, it’s the Remarkable people making these ideas a reality. With applications closing soon for the 2018 program, we want to share these Remarkable Stories. This is Annie’s.

Annie Harper isn’t someone you could easily forget. In Silicon Valley, she was known as the blue-haired hacker (not to mention a feisty cage fighter). Now based in Sydney, she’s a surfing, salsa dancing, rock-climbing tech entrepreneur.

But there are one or two times even Annie has felt invisible.

“I remember sitting in an audience last year while our co-founder Brennan was presenting on our startup Equal Reality,” Annie explained. “During the presentation, Brennan pointed me out in the crowd as his co-founder while talking about my virtual reality graphic animation.”

“Straight after the presentation, a man came bounding up and shook the hand of the man next me – congratulating him on his work and wanting to learn more. It hadn’t occurred to him that it was the 5’5″ blonde girl to his right who was the animator,” Annie laughed.

It’s ironic that this was exactly the type of unconscious bias experiences that had inspired the 32-year-old alongside partners Brennan Hatton and Rick Martin to create Equal Reality – the world’s first interactive diversity and inclusion training using high-end virtual reality (VR) technology.

Annie met Brennan three years ago while both working in Silicon Valley. She’d taught herself to code and was at Intel’s RealSense lab building brain-computer interface prototypes. At the same time Brennan was pioneering augmented reality (AR) technology, creating virtual worlds and communities, and founding his own companies in AR and VR.

Equal Reality - Remarkable Tech VR startup

The pair connected through their passion for adventure and the outdoors – on weekends you’ll find them canyoning, rock-climbing or even abseiling from bridges. But there was something deeper that brought them together. They both possessed a niggling feeling that they could use technology and their skills for social change. And it was a feeling they couldn’t let go of.

“When I first said to Brennan that sexism exists in our industry, he was surprised – he hadn’t seen it,” Annie said. “We talked about the unconscious biases people don’t even realise they bring to the workplace, stereotyping various groups of people, such as people with disabilities or those from different ethnicities, and yes, male-to-female biases.”

“We know these biases lead to discrimination, but how do you prevent them? How do you prevent something that people don’t even know that they do? We realised that VR technology was the perfect way to make an impact.”

There’s no doubt understanding personal unconscious biases can be hard through a PowerPoint presentation or corporate seminar. But through the immersive experience of VR, Equal Reality allows users to step into someone else’s shoes and feel the impacts of unconscious bias.

“We want to help companies shape their culture through high-end VR technology and experiential learning,” Annie said. “Equal Reality gives people the lived experience of different ethnicities, ages and physical impairments, helping them to understand their own prejudices through the eyes of others.”

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, an experience is worth a thousand pictures.”

11 teams, 72 hours, one goal: building tech solutions for people with disabilities

Tech and Innovation

Posted on December 13, 2017

3 min read

TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers), is a global non-profit movement bringing together people with disabilities and ‘Makers’ to develop open source assistive technology to address everyday challenges. After its successful debut in 2016, TOM: Melbourne was back for a second year running from 1-3 December.

TOM: Melbourne was a three day ‘marathon of making’ in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology to develop affordable, assistive technology that addresses the needs of people with disabilities.

Teams of Makers – engineers, product designers, innovators and problem solvers, were connected with Need Knowers – individuals with a deep understanding of a specific disability or challenge, to develop hardware and software prototypes.

In collaboration with communities, organisations, and corporations worldwide, TOM brings together social activism, open innovation, and open source to work directly with people in need to address areas where market forces fail.

TOM inspires the tech community to use their skills for good and make a positive impact. There were 11 challenges which consisted of things that able-bodied people take for granted, but addressed the needs of people with disabilities, from being able to dry yourself independently, being able to play golf, stirring boiling liquids in a pot, going fishing, or just being able to draw independently.

Telstra Labs supported the event as a TOM Change Maker, assisting with judging and mentoring, and a team of Telstra graduates formed Team7 to tackle the Seeing Eye Dog harness challenge.

Harness handles for Seeing Eye Dogs vary in length depending on individual users, meaning specialised handles with varied lengths are required to be made for every user. Furthermore, Seeing Eye dog harnesses have the potential to incorporate technological features. Can the Seeing Eye Dog harness be redesigned to be both ‘smart’ and adjustable?

The team took on both problems and made many prototypes of the adjustable harness over the 72 hours, testing it with their Need Knower, Sif, as well as adding a Bluetooth button to the harness which was able to trigger different events on the Need Knower’s phone, from starting navigation, answering calls, or being able to find friends nearby using an app developed over the weekend.

As part of the closing ceremony, Sif was able to demonstrate the new handle and described how much of a difference this will make to her life. In fact, every Need Knower said something similar about each solution, which reinforces the whole purpose of the event.

Team7 was made up entirely of current Telstra Graduates, including Elise Ajay, David Andersson, Josh Hart, James Coburn, Mathew Greaves, Ben Tutone and Taylor Brown.