Business and Enterprise |

The role of the male ally in striving for gender equality

By Matt Williams December 9, 2020

We’re working in a world that now relies on virtual connections more than physical meetings. Many are juggling careers, family commitments and more, all from home. Yet the impacts COVID-19 have brought are not the same for everyone, with existing inequalities being magnified in some cases.

It means leaders not only have to understand these differences – and the underlying drivers causing them – but become an active participant to level the playing field.

Whilst we are making progress, women still experience inequalities

It’s critical that we understand the need for action, whatever our gender.

In the UK, the pay gap among all employees is slowly getting smaller, but it still stands at 17.3 per cent. Over the course of a normal year that would mean a woman, being paid at the same rate as a man, would stop receiving their paycheck on October 29 despite being expected to work the full year.

Women also are less likely to have jobs where remote working is allowed (22% compared to 28% of men). Almost 90 per cent of single parents are women, significantly impacting the ability to work remotely during COVID-19.

All of that adds up. According to Pew Research, in many countries women are less optimistic than men that they will achieve equality in the future. It is clear something has to change.

Male allies can drive positive change

So, why should other men be actively involved in that change? If we are committed to equality then the work to achieve it cannot be done by women alone, because fundamentally every gender must have a seat at the table.

When we are honest with ourselves and look objectively, it’s very clear men and women are not starting from the same point – especially in traditionally male-dominated industries like tech.

Gender parity as a key part of an inclusive culture will help create a workplace with broad perspectives and more opportunities. That’s because, ultimately, we’re all working toward the same thing – doing great work, providing for our families, and living happy lives.

We’re more likely to do that if we can achieve better gender equality. A study by McKinsey showed that an economy where women participate identically to men would see an increase of $28 trillion dollars to global GDP. Equality is not only the right thing to do ethically, but commercially as well.

According to the Boston Consulting Group: “Among companies where men are actively involved in gender diversity, 96 per cent report progress. Conversely, among companies where men are not involved, only 30 per cent show progress.”

It is contingent on all of us not to simply be in favour of gender (and other intersectional) equality, but to actively do something about it.

My role as a male ally

The digitisation of the economy has empowered all ages, genders, and ethnicities. In order to compete, organisations need a team as diverse as society. To attract and retain the best talent, organisations must ensure that salaries reflect that diversity too.

This is an area organisations have struggled to move the needle on for years, but there are groups working to change this, including the Male Champions of Change. Telstra is a founding member of the group, which includes some of Australia’s most influential and diverse senior male executives including our CEO Andy Penn. Male Champions of Change use their individual and collective leadership to elevate gender equality as an issue of national and international social and economic importance.

Organisations that promote diversity benefit from a wider pool of insights and skills, forming more creative, resilient and high-performing teams. At Telstra, we employ tens of thousands of people around the world and service millions of customers every day. For us to do so responsibly – and successfully – our business practices have to embrace the diversity of the very same people we employ and serve.

Achieving equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace may also include addressing long-term business challenges such as shifting company culture and developing new HR strategies. No matter the scale of such undertakings, the end results will far outweigh any obstacles.

To drive change we need to bring a new mindset. This is why I choose to be a male ally: to help support a fairer industry as a male change agent.

The technology industry shapes so much about how we live, work and play. But the facts show that it doesn’t fully reflect the perspectives of so many people in our society.

On a personal level I have found that, by learning about what being a male ally really means, I am finding a new level of empathy. Professionally and personally, I would encourage many, many more men to do the same.

People | Telstra Careers |

Hacking new paths toward diversity & inclusion

By Kelly Hatton December 7, 2020

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.

Telstra Careers |

What our people with disability want you to know

By Jason Triolo December 3, 2020

Ahead of this year’s International Day of People with Disability, we spoke to members of different Telstra teams who are living with disability. We wanted to connect with them, and ask what they want everyone to know about working with them respectfully.

International Day of People with Disability is an annual event designed to raise public awareness, and more importantly, acceptance of people with disability. We recognise International Day of People with Disability, and we’re working year-round to ensure that we’re an inclusive employer and provider for our team and our customers.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to people living with disability is always to engage with them as a person first and their disability last. Respect is paramount, and we’re all in this together.

People with disability don’t need an “easy” job. Like with all candidates, each job is uniquely suited to an individual’s skills. Different roles and different disabilities come with their own challenges, and what’s important is matching each candidate’s own talents to the role that is right for them. These talents can all be applied in different ways to complete tasks, and simply saying that all people living with disability need an “easy” job is reductive. It all comes down to how you’re qualified, and what you put into the role you have.

One of the most common things we hear from members of our team with disability is they just want others to work with them the same as with anyone else. They’re our colleagues and our friends, and ultimately want and deserve the same opportunities and experiences as those without disabilities. We can all do more to foster an environment where our people who live with disability can be direct about what they need to succeed, and feel confident that they will be heard.

It’s important to remember that not all disabilities are visible. Just because you can’t see someone’s disability, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. It’s something they live and work with each day. As our team members have told us, it’s good to ask if someone needs help but it’s even better to listen to their answer. No one knows what a person needs better than the person themselves.

All of the employees featured in our video applied for or were headhunted for their current roles with us, and they’re invaluable members of the team. We work hard to create an environment within the business where everyone can do their best work. Making things more accessible is more than just a checkbox. It’s about designing products, solutions and experiences that are truly available at every step of the process.

Everyone in our team is responsible for disrupting biases and collectively driving a culture that helps create accessible experiences everywhere. To build a connected future where everyone can thrive, means we need to ensure it’s an accessible one first and foremost. That way, everyone can contribute their brilliant ideas to make a better tomorrow.

Ultimately, people with disability are just people, who live in a society that is not often designed to support their participation in it. They work to deadlines, they’re part of the team, and we alneed to work every day to ensure we’re breaking down those societal barriers to create more accessible and inclusive work environments where we can all thrive. Not just for International Day of People with Disability, but for every day.

Justin Dolman speaking at a conference
Community | Telstra Careers |

Compassion, Telstra, and carving my own path as an Indigenous employee

By Justin Dolman November 13, 2020

I grew up seeing racism and prejudice all around me, faced by myself, my siblings, friends and family. But I quickly learned that as a fairer-skinned Indigenous person, I didn’t face the same level or types of prejudice that darker family members and friends did.

I’ve struggled throughout my life with what it means to be Indigenous, and I don’t always know whether to introduce myself as Aboriginal or not. It’s common for people to lump Indigenous people together, but the differences between us can be vast.

My experience as a Telstra employee has been great though. I think there’s a good balance here between supporting Indigenous employees, while also treating them to the same as other employees.

Being myself, and not “that Indigenous employee”

What being an Indigenous-friendly organisation means to me is being able to work in a place where “diverse” employees don’t have their background in the spotlight. I’ve also seen the passion of employees across the organisation when discussing issues faced by marginalised groups of people.

I believe that creating a space like this is only possible when an organisation is committed to hiring diversely, and puts it into effect, rather than just pledging to do it.

I’ve seen Telstra make a concerted effort to reach out to Indigenous employees in an effort to combat long-term discrimination. I’ve particularly appreciated that they’ve managed to do this without making Indigenous staff feel tokenised. There’s a genuine desire to instill a diverse workforce for the benefits that this brings, not just to tick the box for diversity.

Embracing Indigenous culture with compassion and energy

We have an Employee Representative Group (ERG) called Dharrang, that represents Indigenous employees and helps coordinate events like Reconciliation Week. I was relieved to find that this wasn’t token representation – the energy levels around these events are high, and both colleagues and my leaders are very supportive and eager to learn.

Justin says Telstra makes a concerted effort to reach out to Indigenous employees in an effort to combat long-term discrimination.

The general attitude of the people around me in the office is very comfortable. Recently I was talking with a group of non-indigenous friends and the topic transitioned to Indigenous communities in rural areas. It was rewarding to see the compassion they had for Indigenous people, and that they were respectful of the many challenges Indigenous people have faced throughout our recent history. The amount of intentional and unintentional discrimination we’ve experienced means that even simple compassion like this is a breath of fresh air.

My past experiences with Indigenous stereotypes

Over the years, I’ve noticed that when someone learns I’m Aboriginal, they will almost certainly ask all about my family history. I can tell that people are usually trying to figure out what ‘percentage’ Aboriginal I am.

The less compassionate people tend to lead the conversation to support services. It’s the age-old stereotype that extends into a wide misperception that Indigenous people receive a free car, house, education, everything. Because of this, I have often foregone government support like Centrelink that my friends of all races receive. It’s almost to prove a point (mostly to myself) that my successes are truly my own.

More dangerously, I’ve faced profiling by the police and other authorities. Even when I know I’ve done nothing wrong; these situations are an uneasy experience. I’ve been pulled for “random” drug tests despite being innocent and there being zero evidence. I’ve been pulled over by police when carrying Indigenous passengers and am always given a harder time than with non-Indigenous ones.

Carving a space for myself as an Indigenous employee does mean championing inclusivity as an institution – but at other times, it’s meant knowing when to pick my battles, finding a place that will recognise me without caveats, and letting me be. It’s in this way that my time with Telstra has been consistently positive.

You can learn more about Telstra’s focus on diversity and inclusion on the Telstra Careers website.

Kyah Burke in the Telstra building
Community | Telstra Careers |

My experience as an Indigenous employee: Diversity and Inclusion at Telstra

By Kyah Burke November 9, 2020

I am an Indigenous woman and joined Telstra in 2018 through the Telstra Graduate Program, along with people from a variety of backgrounds. Today, I work in the Telstra Digital Channel team.

I have had a very positive experience with inclusion at Telstra. I have always felt comfortable and supported.

So how is Telstra doing it?

My experience with Telstra

What Telstra does so well, is ensure Indigenous employees are supported, without making us feel singled out.

Everyone was extremely supportive of me here from the start. Even during the process of applying, a member of the Diversity and Inclusion team called me, just to check how I was doing with the application.

Some Indigenous employees start their careers at Telstra through the CareerTrackers Program, which gives university students work experience over the summer. This program can then lead into the Grad Program and full-time employment thereafter.

Indigenous employees and the Dharrang Program

One of the ways Telstra is helping create an inclusive environment is through Dharrang, our Indigenous employee representative group (ERG). In Wiradjuri, Dharrang means “message stick”. The group aims to represent Indigenous voices at Telstra and give us a platform to share our knowledge, ideas, culture and heritage.

For Reconciliation Week this year (27 May – 3 June), I was lucky enough to be one of the organisers for Telstra’s online event, along with 2 other Dharrang members. We were just aiming for 50 attendees but ended up with 267! It was amazing to see the support and engagement from people across the organisation.

Forming a great Indigenous community within Telstra

Telstra has been amazing in connecting me with teams and groups across the country and being part of Dharrang has really meant a lot. Our ERG is set up to include both Indigenous people and Allies, which allows everyone to get involved in cultural and community events.

The creation of a community for Indigenous people within the workplace means building links both within and beyond Indigenous spheres – and I love how it connects us to one another, regardless of where we work within the company. I’ve also had the opportunity to deepen my own knowledge and learn about other languages and cultural practices.

Having a strong Indigenous presence throughout Telstra ensures that we’re celebrated for our skills and innovation.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful for how the Telstra community respects different cultures and lifestyles. I feel confident I made the right decision to start my career at a company that values diversity and work-life balance.

Interested in the Telstra Graduate Program? Head to the Telstra Careers website for information.