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Tag: diversity-and-inclusion

Young women bridging the digital divide in north-west Tasmania

Telstra Foundation

Posted on November 12, 2018

4 min read

A new digital inclusion strategy enabling young women to be change-makers and bridge the digital divide is taking shape in north-west Tasmania.

As the world moves forward with the next industrial revolution, tech skills are critical to a young person’s future and their ability to adapt and be innovative in an ever increasing digital landscape. Big hART’s Project O enables young women to learn new skills and create new employment pathways, building confidence and aptitude in digital media.

Whilst there was some improvement in north-west Tasmania evidenced in the 2018 Australian Digital Inclusion Index Report, digital inclusion in the north-west is still amongst the lowest in Australia, with economically disadvantaged communities across rural Tasmania having high exclusion rates.

Kimberley Chaplin, 15 from Wynyard in north-west Tasmania, is just one of the young women involved in Project O. With very limited computer access at home and school, Kimberley has joined Project O as she says it gives her more opportunities and gets her out of the house. She hopes to one day become an engineer and is hoping to learn programming, engineering software, and also film editing as part of the program. 15 year old participant Kailee Hanson had the opportunity to be mentored by Hobart filmmaker Eliya Cohen as part of Project O, learning about camera techniques, lighting and also working with editing software, Kailee said “I want to learn editing because it’s a form of art and it’s cool.”

Also supporting the young women is 17 year old Izzi Ward, who has come through Project O and is now a mentor. ‘It’s great the support Project O has in the community”, said Izzi, “It really creates a sense that there’s powerful women around you, supporting you.”

Through the program, young women participate in innovative, highly engaging workshops in graphic design, animation, augmented reality, virtual reality, drone-piloting, sound production, podcast creation, blogging, filmmaking, entrepreneurship, digital media and more. This will culminate in a series of high profile events engaging the community. These are run by the local young women, promoting them as capable, confident and digitally savvy.

Genevieve Dugard, National Director of Project O, says that Project O’s approach is not a one-size-fits all program but one that is tailored to each young women’s interests and needs, providing them with experiences and opportunities they would not normally have, led by strong female mentors. “The aim of our digital inclusion strategy is to equip these young women into the future with not just tech skills but also a confident, creative and entrepreneurial mindset, growing future young female leaders and business owners which will in turn strengthen the economy of north-west Tasmania”, says Genevieve.

Speaking at the launch of Project O’s digital inclusion strategy, 7th October 2018, at Table Cape Tulip Farm in Wynyard, north-west Tasmania, Robert Morsillo – our Digital Inclusion Senior Specialist – talked about the importance of being connected, having a sense of community and contributing creatively to society. “I commend Big hART and Project O and the amazing hard work of these young women who make it so special, “said Robert, “We want everyone to be able to thrive in our increasingly digital world and digital economy. Inclusion is really important for everyone – for jobs, for accessing government services and it can also be a lifeline.”

Project O is an initiative of Big hART, Australia’s leading campaigning arts organisation, which won the Telstra Business of the Year and Charity of the Year in Tasmania in 2017, and is led by 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Scott Rankin. Project O’s new digital inclusion strategy is being rolled out in Wynyard and Smithton in NW Tasmania, Frankston Victoria, and Roebourne in the Pilbara in Western Australia.

Tackling technology challenges and improving business through diversity

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on October 12, 2018

5 min read

A panel of female technology leaders at Telstra Vantage 2018 discussed the ideas, techniques and actions that will attract more women into the industry.

With a gender distribution of roughly 25 percent women to 75 percent men, the technology industry still has considerable work to do to be more diverse and inclusive. But Westpac CIO of consumer bank Anastasia Cammaroto said we’ve at least reached the point where it’s an accepted fact that diversity and inclusivity are the right thing to do.

The question now, then, is how to do it — how do we address this gender imbalance, at every seniority level, and reap the benefits of diverse teams and diverse leadership in technology organisations? And how do we navigate these challenges while also steering our way through the fourth big industrial revolution that’s underway right this minute, with 300 years of technology advancements crammed into just the next three years?

For panel moderator Katherine Boiciuc, enterprise operations executive at Telstra, it’s the technology businesses that achieve diversity and inclusivity that will thrive in this period of unprecedented transformation. And for Telstra COO Robyn Denholm, it’s precisely this transformation that should be the catalyst for the change we need to see in our workforce across the board.

Making tech careers more appealing to women and girls

Part of the solution for doing that, she added, is to leverage all this exciting new technology to add a cool factor to the industry so that more kids might then say “I want to be that nerd”, study STEM subjects and make their way into technology careers.

Cammaroto had much more to add on the long view. Westpac set a goal of 50 percent women across all roles, she said, and 10 years later they’ve made it. But achieving this goal took a serious look inwards.

Getting more women into technology and developing them into highly-skilled leaders is not as simple as saying you need them. It requires much greater inclusivity in the phrasing of job advertisements and workplace behaviours and biases, as well as a conscious effort to set role models for the types of values you have in your organisation.

It also means reaching out to girls about the technology pathways they could take in their careers. Westpac has started to run work experience programs for girls at underprivileged schools for this very purpose — because, as Elizabeth Hunter, chief HR officer and shared services at Incitec Pivot, explained, “if they can’t see it, they won’t be it.”

Hunter said that we need to make it clearer as an industry that there are many more kinds of jobs and roles than just being a coder sitting in a room and not talking to anybody all day.

Then once young women enter the field, she added, they need mentors and sponsors who will see their potential and be prepared to give them a go — to help them advance their career and to give them a voice to reframe their roles and step up.

Diversity improves business outcomes

Denholm noted the importance of empowering men to empower women as a practical way to address the gender imbalance. This has had “amazing” results for Telstra in a short period of time, she said, and more broadly the panel agreed that the results of having even a small amount of diversity in your technology teams will speak for themselves.

There’s considerable data to suggest that diverse teams are more profitable, more productive and better problem solvers than non-diverse teams. This goes for diverse leadership, too, with diverse executive teams 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than non-diverse teams.

The panel had plenty of anecdotal evidence to support these numbers. Denholm has been the only woman in many executive teams over the years, for instance, and the men on those teams have often commented that just having that one woman’s presence improved the team dynamics. Similarly, in a previous role in financial services, Hunter learnt that the most profitable team at the firm was also the most diverse.

But Eglantine Etiemble, the CIO of Dulux, cautioned that, for all the many benefits diversity provides, it is also harder to manage diverse teams. You need to work on yourself as an individual and a leader, she advised, to transform yourself and to understand your bias. Only then will the transformation follow.

Hunter echoed the sentiment. Assumptions are often wrong, she said, “So check your assumptions, find out if they’re true, and you might find that a whole new world opens up.”

Greater diversity to tackle the challenges ahead

Business is changing tremendously fast. A whopping 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t exist yet. And these new jobs are likely to require diverse skill sets across our industry.

Christine Russo, technology sales executive at Telstra, said that the future of sales — and all professions — lies in softer skills like humility and empathy and abundance. For that, she said, we need to think about how to build teams where ego is left at the door.

Women leaders also need to think about and choose carefully how to “lean in” to create conditions for women to be successful, she added, while Boiciuc likened diversity to the high school dance. “You can invite everyone to the high school dance,” she said, “but there’s a difference between being at the school dance and being asked to dance at the school dance… So how many people are you inviting to dance?”

We’re proud to be among world leaders for gender equality


Posted on October 5, 2018

2 min read

Our ongoing commitment to gender equality has been internationally recognised twice in the last week.

We’ve been listed in the top 200 companies globally leading the field for gender equality in 2018 by Equileap, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to accelerate progress towards gender equality in the workplace.

Each year, Amsterdam-based Equileap ranks over 3,000 companies in 23 countries on gender equality based criteria such as leadership, gender pay equity and flexible work practices. In 2018, we’ve been ranked 62nd on the list.

Australia had the fourth highest proportion of companies in the Top 200 (36 per cent). The countries with the highest proportion of ranking companies were Norway (43 per cent), Israel (40 per cent) and Belgium (38 per cent).

And in the same week, Andy Penn has appeared in the second annual HERoes Champions of Women in Business lists, published by The Financial Times.

The HERoes lists celebrate company leaders who are passionate about gender equality and actively support women in business. All of those on the lists were nominated by peers and colleagues, with the nominations then reviewed by a panel of judges.

It’s fantastic to see that Andy has been ranked eighth out of the top 50 Male Champions of this year’s list, which includes leading businesspeople from all over the world. We are the only Australian company ranked in the top 10. Andy’s inclusion is on the basis of his personal commitment to gender equality both within Telstra and externally as a Male Champion of Change.

We can all feel proud that Telstra is being recognised internationally as an organisation that cares passionately about diversity and inclusion – there has never been a more critical time for us to focus on the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

You don’t have to be a Male Champion of Change to make a difference. We can all play a role in amplifying women’s voices and celebrating their achievements.

Nominations are now open for the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards, which celebrate women in leadership who are transforming the way we do business. The program, now in its 24th year, continues to recognise outstanding women who are achieving business success by doing things differently.

Participation starts with a simple nomination. Anyone can nominate – friends, family, employees, colleagues, clients, customers or yourself. You can nominate here and nominations are open until 8 November.

Digital inclusion in 2018: the nbn improves access, but issues remain with digital ability and affordability


Posted on August 29, 2018

4 min read

Although the digital economy generates extraordinary social, cultural and economic benefits for Australians, we know that these benefits are not equally shared. Over two and a half million Australians are not online, and many more are not able to take full advantage of online services.

As the internet has become the default medium for everyday exchanges, information-sharing, and access to essential services, the disadvantages of being offline have grown. Being connected is now a necessity, not a luxury.

The 2018 Australian Digital Inclusion Index, released today, provides the most complete picture yet of the nature and extent of digital inclusion in Australia. The Index, drawing from five years of nationwide survey data, measures three critical dimensions of digital inclusion: access, affordability, and digital ability. As a source of evidence and a guide for action, the Index shows us where digital inclusion is improving and where more needs to be done.

The 2018 Australian Digital Inclusion Index data shows digital inclusion is improving in Australia, with gains made across all three dimensions in the past year. That is good news.

The biggest improvement over the past 12 months has been recorded in the Accessibility measure. This dimension captures if, how, and where people access the internet and the data allowances they have at their disposal. The 2018 Index results show the nbn is beginning to have a range of positive impacts on this measure.

The uptake of nbn broadband services has risen substantially since 2017, particularly in locations such as Tasmania where the rollout is well-progressed. The nbn improves digital inclusion in several ways including by enhancing access for those households switching because the nbn is generally a better access technology than previous options— notwithstanding the policy arguments over whether it is optimal.

The Index data also shows two other positive effects of the nbn rollout: first, the rollout appears to be encouraging households previously without fixed internet to connect; and second, households with nbn connections have higher average data allowances.

Although access gains are important, connectivity does not equal digital inclusion. An important consideration is whether these access gains will translate into more productive and rewarding online activity. We need to make sure Australians are able to make the most of their improved access. So supporting people in developing confidence and capabilities online is critical. The digital ability dimension of the Index measures people’s attitudes to technology and capacity to engage in online tasks. The 2018 results show that, despite some progress, online skills remain low.

The expansion in access has also had affordability repercussions. The affordability dimension of the Index captures how much data we are getting for our dollar, and the proportion of our income we spend on internet services.

Over the past few years, Australians have benefitted from better value for money internet services as the cost of data has fallen. However, because people are doing more online and purchasing larger data allowances, they are spending a larger proportion of their household income on internet access.

For most middle income and better-off Australians, this is unlikely to be a problem. But for lower income households, especially those on fixed incomes, affordability is an important issue and one that clearly diminishes their level of digital inclusion.

Income is just one factor that influences digital inclusion. Indeed, the 2018 Index results show that geography, age, education, and employment also continue to define access to and uses of online resources. In addition to low income earners, those not in the labour force, those who did not complete secondary school and people aged over 65 recorded low digital inclusion index scores in 2018 – and the bad news is that some of these groups are falling further behind.

The value of the Index lies in the assistance it can provide in targeting and shaping future policy and action. In addition to reporting on the latest overall results, the 2018 Australian Digital Inclusion Index Report takes a special look at digital inclusion for three groups: single parents, residents of the remote Indigenous community of Ali Curung, and the deaf and hard of hearing community. These case studies illustrate the complex ways in which digital inequality is experienced, and how it might be addressed.

You can download the 2018 Australia Digital Inclusion Index here.

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.