Bold moves towards gender parity

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“We’re over it.”

The message at last night’s #BOLDmoves Dinner Spectacular in Melbourne was clear. Enough is enough – it’s time for a little less conversation and a lot more action when it comes to gender parity in Australia.

“If you came here tonight to hear a business case about why diversity works, I’m sorry, but you’re going to be disappointed,” said Chris Skipper-Conway, Chair of the Victorian ICT for Women Network (VicICT for Women). “We’re over it.”

“#BOLDmoves is … part of a new leadership program designed to shift gears on the diversity front,” continued Ms Skipper-Conway. “To move the focus on diversity from talk to action. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m tired of talking about it. I want us all to move and get into the action.”

Moving the diversity agenda forward

VicICT for Women is an industry-driven initiative which aims to further the entry, retention and progression of urban and regional women in the ICT industry. Last night’s #BOLDmoves gala dinner served as the springboard for a think tank to move the diversity agenda from talk to action. A range of speakers was curated for the night by event creators Seonaid Porter, VicICT for Women Board Member, and Liz Doherty, Creative + Strategy consultant.

The challenge of gender diversity is prevalent across many industries, and remains very real in IT, where more than 50 percent of women leave corporate life by their mid-30s. Half of those who opt out leave technology careers all together.

Across the board, companies are making changes to increase their share of senior female talent. Government and industry groups are providing a groundswell of support for talented and innovative women to leave corporate careers to become entrepreneurs.

The case for disruption

The business case for gender parity has been explored and proven time and time again, but the rate of change is slow. In the same way that biodiversity boosts environmental productivity, gender diversity creates a more robust and sustainable business ecosystem that is able to adapt to constantly shifting parameters.

“The business-as-usual mindset that we’ve all be circling around for years just won’t get us to reach gender parity,” said Ms Skipper-Conway. “Scarily, it looks like if we carry on doing what we’re doing now, it will be somewhere like 2095 before we achieve it. That’s a wake-up call to everyone. Quite frankly, it’s too long to wait and most of us won’t be there.

“We must disrupt this business-as-usual mindset and shift the gears to achieve the diversity targets. Ultimately, in times of disruption, success will go to those visionary leaders who are prepared to make bold, strategic moves.”

Bold ideas

The night’s speakers included Wendy McCarthy AO who put forward her bold target of “50:50 by 2020”. “Education is the only game in town,” said Ms McCarthy. “Educate girls, educate women, educate communities and everything changes. That’s real change management.”

Dayle Stevens spoke of her bold pilot of international study tours for NAB’s Women in Technology Program and Infoxchange’s Tegan Kop gave everyone food for thought when putting social justice and technology on the evening’s agenda.

MYOB’s Creative Director Stanley Johnson put the focus squarely on making sure #yourworkmatters as an employee value proposition, and Fiona Triaca from Naked Ambition and Paul Velonis from Elabor8 stressed the importance of using design thinking to overcome the challenges of achieving gender parity.

Last night was about showcasing the real heroes in diversity – the ones who are getting on with leading real change. The way forward is about leveraging existing experience and experimentation to get on with achieving a bold 50:50 by 2020 vision.

Find out how you can get involved with VicICT for Women.

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