Inclusive innovation leads to diverse outcomes
Inclusive innovation leads to diverse outcomes
Digital inclusion is one of the three themes of the annual Digital Innovation Festival. DIFvic actively encourages underrepresented voices and diverse stories from across the Victoria to be part of the festival. Read more about how our vibrant tech ecosystem is championing diversity.
Diversity of ideas and people are at the heart of innovation. Including different voices and perspectives in the development process, can deliver surprising results. Diversity and inclusion are increasingly becoming differentiators in business as consumers become aware of who makes and manages the tech they use in their daily lives. Yet the tech sector that creates ground-breaking solutions does not always represent the society which uses them.
To fully realise technologies' transformative potential, everyone needs to be a part of shaping the digital economy. In order to create an inclusive tech ecosystem, organisations and individuals need to be engaged. At the macro level diversity means that all sectors have a seat at the table: business, entrepreneurs, not-for-profit and government. At the micro level individual groups need to be represented and collaborate to create positive change.
Change is central to innovation and is essential to progress. The Victorian tech ecosystem is proactively addressing the issues of equity across a range of initiatives lead by LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency. Focusing on how we go about creating a diverse workforce and empowering underrepresented startup founders. They supported Change Catalyst to create a toolkit that offers best practices for making the tech industry more diverse and inclusive.
Encouraging allyship is another way to drive positive change. An ally is any person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole. According to Sheree Atcheson Award-winning Diversity and Inclusion Leader in her article in Forbes, everyone has the ability to be an ally as privilege is intersectional - white women can be actionable allies to people of colour, men can be allies to women, cis people can be allies to members of the LGBTQI+ community, able-bodied people can be allies to those with different abilities, economically privileged people can be allies to those who are not and so on.
Gender in tech
Diversity in the tech world has focused on gender, given the stats it’s not surprising. In Victoria, women are estimated to represent around 20 percent of the State's ICT industry and 30 percent of the workforce. Women continue to be underrepresented in ICT roles, significantly lower than in other professional occupations. Women comprised 28 percent of the national digital technology workforce; a figure that has remained unchanged since 2015 ACS: Australia’s Digital Pulse (2018)
However, the 2017 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index listed the top 50 cities globally for women entrepreneurs and found Melbourne ranked 17th place for its ability to foster women entrepreneurship. Networks that support women in technology are thriving and the Melbourne chapter of the global Girls in Tech are back with their Catalyst Conference.
Geelong Youth Innovation Summit 2019 (Sat 11 May) and the girledworld WOW STEM Expo Summit 2019 program has been curated and designed just for Australian high school girls and early tertiary women, empowering, educating and equipping them to make informed decisions about their individual career pathways with the new World of Work front of mind.
Supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds
LaunchVic is Victoria’s startup agency and is committed to the development of a globally-connected, diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem. Their third funding round supported programs that improved access and participation in the Victorian startup ecosystem for first-generation migrants and refugees. Another program supported entrepreneurial programs for Aboriginal Victorians, including Barayamal is the world’s first indigenous accelerator is looking for 5 innovative Indigenous startups to give a funding total of $50,000. See a list of the organisations who are delivering real benefits on the ground.
Migrants and refugees are important contributors to successful startup ecosystems. They are known to have high-risk appetites, having started a new life in a new country – often with no capital, no credit history, no assets, and no security. The risk-taking that defines a migrant’s experience often continues as they embark on entrepreneurial journeys to establish themselves.
According to Startup Victoria diversity is the key to success and diverse leadership yields better business performance. Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and our startups should be the same. Here in Victoria, we want to challenge the norm and lead by embracing diversity in our startups - starting from the top.
Startup Victoria Pitch Night: Diversity and Inclusion on Tue 28 May will focus on diversity and showcase both leaders and up-and-coming startups that are led by Women, Migrant and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander from any industries. Startup Victoria are proud to partner with LaunchVic to showcase 4 diverse startups, as they pitch to a panel of hand-picked, expert judges as well as our usual community of founders, startups, investors and more. They will also be pitching to win the amazing Startup Victoria Prize Package.
Championing the underrepresented in the digital economy
Melbourne is proudly home to the #TechDiversity awards which raise the profile of those who are building inclusion in the digital economy: to share their stories of courage and commitment, and to amplify their achievements, and to inspire others to act. #TechDiversity supports the increased participation of underrepresented groups and embraces women, people with a disability, people who recognize themselves as LGBTQI, Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, people of colour, older people, and those who may face discrimination around their religious beliefs.
The 2019 #TechDiversity Awards are open for nominations launching at RMIT on 15 May. Nominations display outstanding expressions of leadership, behavior, commitment, and courage – key touchstones that embrace inclusion and drive diversity. 2018 winners include Grad Girls a 1-year program run by Vic ICT for women for female university stem students to discover and understand the pathways available when taking the next step in their career. If you are raising awareness and creating change through diversity initiatives or programs nominate by 30 June. Who knows, we may see you in the spotlight at the #TechDiversity Awards Gala Dinner on 12 September. Save the date!
#TechDiversity is a great example of collaboration in action. It is an initiative spearheaded by a core committee of volunteers representing Mia Consulting Services, Method9, Nexec Leaders and MizTee. This core committee is supported by a wider team representing a number of industry groups and businesses – including the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Australian Information Industry Association Victoria (AIIA), Vic ICT for Women and the Victorian Government.
Who's in the spotlight?
Events are a great way to explore ideas, learn new skills and build networks to challenge the status quo. Many high-profile conferences, events and taskforces lack gender balance, despite there often being no shortage of qualified women. It is estimated less than 15% of panelists in Australia are women. Less than 12% of experts cited in business newspapers are women. Such optics have consequences. There has been push back against #manels, all male speaker panels. The Panel Pledge seeks gender balance at every forum and the tech sector is responding.
Change Catalyst has created a guide to inclusive events and recommends creating programming that speaks to your local community and is oriented towards the topics and conversations that will best serve your audience. Look outside your normal circles to find diverse voices and no matter what your event programming, be sure to provide guidance to your speakers, presenters and facilitators to ensure that your content is created with an inclusive lens.
Walking the talk, TechInclusion returns to Melbourne this year convening the tech industry to focus on solutions to diversity and inclusion. The theme this year is “Voices of Innovation” – featuring diverse, underrepresented voices building the innovative technologies and cultures of our future. Presented by Change Catalyst and LaunchVic it's an open invitation to learning new solutions, meet diverse people who care, be stretched in a safe environment, and gain new tools and strength to advocate for change. A highlight will be the interactive session focusing on allyship in tech.
This year's program features some great speakers including: Dr Manisha Amin, CEO at Centre for Inclusive Design; Aiman Hamdouna, Founder & Ceo At Hatch Quarter Pty Ltd; Gian Wild, CEO, Founder at Accessibilityoz and Michelle Sheppard, Transgender Community Liaison Officer at Fitted for Work and more.
If knowledge is power, then Melbourne Knowledge Week is your personal charger. MKW is packed full of interesting talks and events to help grow your mind and feed your curiosity. So make sure you check out what's on between 20 - 26 May around the city.
DIF2019 Digital Inclusion program
The DIF Team recommend all Event Partners read the Creating Inclusive Events Guide and consider how to make diversity and inclusion as part of how they approach their own DIF2019 event. All events are encouraged to make all efforts to achieve a gender-balanced program and consider other dimensions of age and international and local experience.
"Remember: Diversity and Inclusion is a journey, we’re all learning. It’s okay to make mistakes in the process. Listen and learn from the community and continue to improve. Congratulations on taking the first step! " Change Catalyst
The DIF Team actively seeks underrepresented voices and diverse stories from across the Victorian tech ecosystem. We work with event partners to identify speakers from diverse backgrounds and the DIF Hub program has an open EOI for speakers. If you’re interested to be a speaker please make sure you register or if have an event that focuses on diversity or inclusion sign up and post it to the DIFvic Online Events Hub.
This year’s DIF Hub program will have dedicated Women Changing Tech Day and Digital Diversity Day to showcase the amazing people and solutions that are making a difference. Check out the program and spend some time outside of your comfort zone, open your mind to possibilities and step up and make a change for good.
The DIFvic Online Events Hub digital inclusion events across the state from tech help and coding for kids in libraries, Meetup groups for female entrepreneurs and more are added weekly. You can sign up and create your account, for event alerts to receive a #DIFlist of digital inclusion events to your inbox.
About our author Kelly Hutchinson, Digital Innovation Festival Manager