To recognise International Women’s Day, we took the opportunity to reflect on the advances made and the continuing need to strive for equality, particularly in the technology field and to celebrate the amazing women of tech who inspire us.
This year, we invited Victoria Kluth, the Founder and CEO of Australian software start-up, Araza. Victoria is an entrepreneur who founded Araza just six years ago and swiftly created a leading Australian IT consulting, technology and systems business. The philosophy that drives Araza is that an open culture and diversity creates better performing teams. She has been recognised as an industry leader in Westpac’s Top 20 Businesses of Tomorrow and nominated for Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 2020 and more.
Victoria set us the challenge to be individual champions of change – her obsession on how one person can make the difference that can change the world. Her philosophy is to think, act and deliver more opportunities and equitable pathways so that technology companies can benefit financially and creatively through hiring and developing people from diverse backgrounds and experience. For her, our potential for innovation is created by the richness of diverse perspective – without it we are limited.
Talking openly and candidly about the unintentional bias of recruiting in your own image, Victoria encouraged everyone to think about the role we can all play. A key opportunity is to think about the locations your ads appear in and ensuring diversity in the candidate process. “We need to be conscious of our recruitment practices so that we bring in brilliant talent and create diverse teams,” says Paul Perrett, CEO of MessageMedia. “It’s about providing opportunity and being open–minded“.
More than anything, Victoria challenged us to act better today for a more equitable world for the next generation. Her takeaway message was that the choices we make today have the potential to limit the diversity of tomorrow, and to ask: why are we afraid of diverse teams?
Following Victoria’s discussion, the team watched ‘Losing Lena’ – a documentary centred on the movement to remove unintended biases by removing a single image that has been long made technology development an uncomfortable and male-dominated space that excluded women.
The ‘Lenna’ image has been used since 1973 as the standard test in image processing and as part of the development of the JPEG. It has been called ‘Tech’s Original Sin’ – a cropped image taken from a men’s magazine, that has since become one of the most used test images in computing history. The thoughtless choice of the image at the time has since left a pervasive and unintended barrier to millions of women to joining tech.
The fifty-year legacy of Lena was that women are made to feel invisible and excluded from the realm of technology, and how this legacy is still with us. It is through singular actions, like retiring images such as Lena that we can create more inclusive technology spaces where diversity, and the innovation it brings, can thrive.
Like Victoria and the Araza team, the ‘Losing Lena’ campaign is challenging all people in tech to take one small step towards reducing gender biases and creating a more inclusive technology industry and workplaces.
For our team, it opened up wider discussions about increasing diversity and the major benefits it can have for advancing technology, business and society.
US Channel Partnership Manager, Erin Reynolds said: “We’ve come a long way but there is still a lot more we can do to encourage and support women in tech.”
Finally – it’s the words of Emma Callum, Key Account Manager that sums it up, “It’s great that as a business we can see that we’ve come a long way, and that’s the first stage to bring a positive change. Everyone is accountable and can do something to make tangible and meaningful change”.
So – what is the one difference that you could make?
If you are interested in watching the Losing Lena documentary, you can find it here: https://nxt.to/xD6MTCd