Champions of Change STEM Group member, Dr Evans - Women on Boards member and guest on this week's podcast In Conversation podcast with Claire Braund - was one of almost 30 CEOs and technology sector leaders who attended a virtual round table on 19 October to discuss programs underway that accelerate gender equity in their organisations.
The Champions of Change Coalition leaders have announced 12 commitments to promote female leadership in the technology sector.
During the round table, members discussed programs that create clearer pathways for women wanting to re-enter the workforce after having children.
Dr Evans described how introducing flexible working arrangements for all of Engineers Australia’s 300 staff, including men, would allow women in the traditionally male-dominant industry to avoid being disadvantaged for having to juggle family commitments.
“The risk – especially for women – of being overlooked when they take on flexibility is not as great,” she said during the round table, which was reported on by AFR reporter James Eyers, who attended the virtual discussion.
“The much wider uptake of flexible (virtual) working has meant a democratisation of contribution, enabling more women to really succeed in their careers. As a very proud engineer, it’s great to see.”
Microsoft Chief Partner Officer, Rachel Bondi said the report showed the Coalition was not just about words. “We are about action... creating digital pathways for potentially thousands of women into 2022 and beyond.”
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said: “The use of AI and machine learning is guiding the way we understand who we are, what our role is in society and the opportunities that exist for our future. But we need to disrupt the future of AI, before the entrenched inequality of the past becomes the entrenched inequality of the future.”
The Champions of Change Gender Equality and the Digital Economy plan identifies three areas of opportunity for businesses and organisations. These are to embed gender equality into the development and use of digital technologies; to build a gender equal technology industry; and to invest in women technology entrepreneurs.
The 12 Commitments to Achieve Gender Equality in the Digital Economy
Digital Inclusion and Access to Technology
1. Implement ethics processes, and include diverse perspectives, in tech product research and development cycles to disrupt bias and harmful gender stereotypes and create products and user experiences that suit everyone.
2. Contribute targeted efforts to improving access for all women to education that empowers their participation, economic security and personal safety in the digital economy.
Ubiquity and Necessity of Digital Skills and Ways of Working
3. Promote tech skills development and jobs in a way that ensures everyone can participate in the digital economy.
4. Evolve approaches to flexible working that minimize barriers and prioritise balance.
Diverse Capabilities in Growth Industries
5. Make digital skills training programs open source across the Coalition.
6. Create a cooperative talent pool for women in digital roles across the Coalition.
7. Promote women role models in the digital economy.
8. Work across sectors, including government and education, to boost women’s participation in studies, training and career pathways that equip them with skills needed in the digital economy.
9. Apply gender equality expectations on contractors supplying contingent labour.
Work that Works for Women
10. Recommit to respectful workplaces that are free of discrimination, sexual harassment and other excluding behaviours.
11. Apply a gender equality lens through right-sizing and restructuring so women benefit from these change processes.
12. Allocate funding for women entrepreneurs in angel/seed investment schemes.
Download the Champions of Change Gender Equality and Digital Economy report HERE