Tech Diversity Awards
Inspiration from the Tech Diversity Awards.
Tech Diversity Awards
Last night, I was honoured and inspired to be in the audience for the Tech Diversity Awards at Sofitel Melbourne On Collins. I have a special interest in the awards, as a long-time client (advisee) and admirer of Deirdre Diamante, who co-founded the Tech Diversity Foundation along with Soozey Johnstone. Deirdre is currently on the Salsa Board, and someone whose opinion I value very highly.
The Tech Diversity Awards started in 2017 and are run by the Tech Diversity Foundation, which was founded five years ago. The Foundation supports increased participation of underrepresented groups in the digital economy, such as women, people with a disability, people who recognise themselves as LGBTQ, indigenous Australians, people of colour, older people and those who may face discrimation around religious beliefs.
There were many great presentations during the evening, including the keynote address by Harriet Green, CEO of IBM Asia Pacific. However, I was particularly moved by Deirdre’s genuine and heartfelt introduction. She talked about the unconscious bias she’s experienced in her life, starting from childhood. How she always felt like she was a bit behind her brothers, a bit behind her male colleagues, a bit behind her male friends. And how she’d felt like a fraud in business at times, like she didn’t belong. I videoed her speech, and here is part of what she had to say on the why.
“A lot of it is because I’m a girl. A lot of it is those countless little quips we hear as we grow up. Little things like ‘Oh wow, you’re really smart, you think like a guy’ or ‘Oh, congratulations on getting your little science degree.’ I always tell my children other people’s words and actions don’t dictate who we are but the thing is, sometimes we let them. And if we let society put us in these little boxes...then it can be really hard to feel valued.”
“To me Tech Diversity is so important because it’s making every single person feel valued for who they are. So I will always struggle with feeling under confident. It takes a toll on me. And sometimes I get really sad thinking about that little girl but being in Tech Diversity demonstrates to me how many people there are in our community that are determined to make a difference.”
“So we want to raise people’s consciousness about that level of bias that exists in our society, we have to be aware of the impact of what we do and what we say, as well as the impact on our broader society. At the heart of it Tech Diversity is about courage and it’s about raising awareness.”
Deirdre explained that the awards are a way to inspire organisations to make long-lasting changes around diversity based on the examples set by others. “The awards give us a platform to inspire others. To make others realise what’s possible and what they can achieve.”
And what better way to know you’ve had your vision for inspiration realised than when a senior executive stands up at your event and tells their story on how Tech Diversity inspired them to make that change. Steve Hodgkinson, CIO of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, reflected on how his exposure to a previous Tech Diversity event compelled him to action change “because I can”. Upon telling his story, Steve went on to individually and proudly acknowledge each member of his diverse team by not embarrassing them at all to stand up :)
We’d like to congratulate the following Tech Diversity Award winners:
- 2019 TechDiversity champion: VIC ICT 4 WOMEN
- Business: Project Evolve at nbn – nbn
- Education: girledworld Pty Ltd – girledworld Pty Ltd
- Government: Innovation Catalyst Global | FindHer – CSIRO
- Media and Advertising: Go Girl, Go for IT – Go Girl, Go for IT
- Peoples’ Choice: Australia’s Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders – Deloitte Digital
I’d like to thank Tech Diversity for the work they’re doing. They’re really creating awareness and raising the profile of tech diversity. They've inspired many people and organisations and I’d like to personally thank Deirdre for her role in Tech Diversity and for her touching speech.