Vic ICT for Women
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Vic ICT for Women #BOLDMoves Committee: Seonaid Porter (Lead), Lyn Murnane, Alice Porter, Mary Turss, Lynne Farrell, Peter Ryan, Liz Doherty
Elabor8: Paul Velonis (Lead), Kim Ballestrin, Dipa Rao, Brianna Landry
Vic ICT for Women Board Member & #BOLDMoves Lead (volunteer) & IT Professional
Seonaid Porter & Paul Velonis
Seonaid - as above, Paul Managing Director Elabor8
Overview - a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Women make up only 19% of Australia’s booming digital/tech industry, with even fewer in leadership roles. However, improving headcount isn’t enough. Research tells us women are unhappy in these digital/tech careers, with 50% of women in tech corporate careers leaving by their mid 30s, and most leaving the tech industry all together. We need to address the challenge of retaining women in the IT industry long enough for them to thrive and take on leadership roles.
Established programs to address gender imbalance have not produced the adequate progress. If current efforts continue, gender parity will not be achieved until 2095.
BOLDMoves is a collaboration between Vic ICT for Women & Elabor8, two groups who were inspired to work together to disrupt the “diversity program” mindset and shift gears to reach our diversity targets.
As leaders in Agile workplace transformation, Elabor8 professionals are trained to solve complex business problems during rapid change and disruption. The #BOLDMoves team have adapted Elabor8’s skills is Design Thinking and Complexity theory (Cynefin) to deliver a cross-industry, cross-discipline, peer support framework to create high impact diversity initiatives to see more women lead in technology.
Actions / Initatives - Detail the actions implemented to achieve the project or initative
BOLDMoves is a safe-to-fail trial run over 12mths.
The #Boldmoves team redesigned VicICTforWomen’s traditional annual gala dinner to create an interactive showcase of high impact diversity initiatives. This night had a strong theme - we all have a role to play, and need to think differently if we are to reach our goal of gender parity “50/50 by 2020”. In addition to the 280 attendees, we used social media to spark a broader conversation. That night #BOLDMoves trended with over 580 twitter posts reaching 110,000 twitter feeds.
The gala dinner was the springboard for the #BOLDMoves Think Tank innovation workshop, sponsored by Vic Government’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, and facilitated by Elabor8’s innovation consultants. This was an industry first in applying complex innovation facilitation to workforce diversity challenges. The output was 50 new initiatives.
These 50 new initiatives became the focus of the third, and highest impact segment of #BOLDMoves program. Elabor8 host monthly meetups, where organisations collaborate around the ideas from the Think Tank, and continue to learn, trial, plan & share learnings.
The completion and ultimate goal is the #BOLDMoves whitepaper, highlighting the learnings and amplifying the successful programs to the broader business community
Approach - Detail the approach that was taken on the project or initative
Our motto is: Diversity is good for innovation and innovation is essential for diversity.
BOLDMoves is a 12 month program to enable participants to design safe-to-fail initiatives to trial in their own organisation and then share the learnings. This allows successful initiatives to be amplified and for unsuccessful initiatives to be dampened, adapted and trialled again. This is explored further in Elabor8’s blog
The #BOLDMoves participant community have a role to amplify ideas worth sharing, and use meet ups, active social media presence and a #BOLDMoves specific online collaboration space to seek out and showcase initiatives like ANZ’s iCreate , DiverseCityCareers, Peoplebank’s Next100Women, and MYOB’s DevelopHer program.
A number of fantastic ideas for attracting young women to tech careers have also been exchanged with VicICTforWomen’s GoGirl community.
Follow up / response - Details the follow up or response to the project or initative
The #BOLDMoves program saw larger scale experiments kick off quicker than any of us expected. Both within the meet ups and by other leaders who were inspired to take action. The gala dinner inspired many leaders in the room, including one large corporate re-writing IT procurement KPIs to mandate gender ratios and PWC inviting their clients to an evening to discuss how to promote more women in tech.
We are now half way, and have a number of active initiatives being trialled, these include:
- Blind CVs for shortlisting & rewriting ads to be more female friendly
- Inviting school teachers and career advisors to shadow senior IT leaders
- Inviting a group of female Year 10 students to spend 5 days over 5 weeks learning first hand about technology careers before choosing their VCE subjects.
- Cross industry personal coaching programs
- Numerous cross company & cross industry secondment programs in planning
- These #TechDiversity awards are a #BOLDMoves initiative,
Most importantly, #BOLDMoves is creating awareness that TechDiversity is a complex business challenge and requires a brave yet scientific approach to creating change.
This July, a sister movement will launch in Sydney called #EqualityHacks with Geek Girl Dinners
Action to overcome resistance - Details the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative
- Quickly building a community with new skills. Emerging innovation practices like Cynefin & Design Thinking are still not widely understood so we were fortunate to have some amazing thought leaders volunteer their time, and many of the participants now use these practices daily.
- Keeping initiatives small and safe-to-fail when so many organisations are keen to make their mark.
- Few precedents of cross industry trials by volunteers. For these trials to take off, we needed to promote self organisation both across companies and within them. This took some time to foster, and was part of our experimentation as organisers.
- Leveraging partnerships. Cross industry collaboration has been the challenge and also the strength of the #BOLDMoves community, we have an inclusive culture and work to avoid duplication or waste through competing initiatives.
- Resistance to IT lead diversity initiatives by traditional HR professionals. The best successes have been from organisations who partnered with their HR teams. Most of these initiatives could not have been organised as traditional HR programs only, they require sweeping changes in procurement and industry partnerships involving volunteer effort, industry associations and require serious networking and executive sponsorship.