Some of the world’s most prominent tech companies have joined forces to support LGBTQIA members of the Australian tech industry, with Atlassian and the local offices of Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and LinkedIn forming the InterTech Australia initiative.
The initiative will provide networking opportunities and events, as well as partnerships with non-for-profit LGBTQIA organisations to provide more inclusive workplaces in the tech sector.
The initiative was launched at Atlassian’s Sydney offices last week, at a time when LGBTQIA rights have been thrown into the spotlight as Australia prepares for the federal government’s postal survey on same-sex marriage.
With homophobia shown to be costly to both workers and employers, affecting not only employees’ mental wellbeing but the culture and sense of inclusiveness in workplaces, InterTech’s initiative comes at an important time for Australia’s tech ecosystem.
InterTech Australia is an offshoot of InterTech UK, which was launched in 2014 by Facebook staff member Jan Hoffman.
Co-organiser Haylee Brittliffe, who is also a senior technical recruiter at Atlassian, told our friends at StartupSmart that InterTech Australia started with a series of discussions seven months ago.
— InterTech Australia (@InterTechAU) August 31, 2017
“The idea was originally launched in Ireland by one of my co-organisers [Jan Hoffman],” Brittliffe explains.
Hoffman worked at Facebook in Ireland, and when he moved to Sydney he found there was no similar LGBTQIA support group for tech employees in Australia.
— Kara Hinesley (@karahinesley) August 31, 2017
“He drove it from the beginning, and two of us from each company [Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Google, Atlassian] have been meeting up fortnightly since March,” Brittliffe says.
“It’s all about connecting and supporting LGBT people in the tech industry, and also our allies,” she says, adding that workplaces that promote diversity and inclusion are inevitably more successful and innovative.
“We really want to make sure that everyone brings their whole self to work: happy staff makes a happy company.”
While Atlassian, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn are the founding members of the initiative, Brittliffe says the organisation is “definitely going to invite other companies to be a part of it” in the future.
She says InterTech is now looking at running events on a quarterly basis, which will be open to the public and hosted at the offices of each of the founding companies “so people can get to see those office spaces for themselves”.
Brittliffe also encourages startups and smaller companies to become involved in the initiative and see it as a key way to share knowledge, support networks and advice.
“I think its great for smaller startups to get involved [in InterTech] so they can learn from the diversity and inclusion programs we’ve run [at Atlassian]” Brittliffe says.
“Becoming diverse is easy as a smaller company — they can learn from a lot of our [Atlassian’s] challenges as a large company in that space.”
This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on StartupSmart.