Microsoft and a group of its partners have formed the Male Champions of Change Microsoft Partner Group, representing 300,000 employees, to accelerate the technology sector’s push for gender equality. 

Women currently make up 29 per cent of Australia’s technology workforce and there remains an 18 per cent gender pay gap in technology occupations. The hard won gains are a risk of evaporating during the COVID-19 crisis, according to industry research. 

A group of Microsoft’s largest partners will be foundation members of the group and include Data#3, Datacom, Dicker Data, Empired, Ingram Micro, Insight, Interactive, Rackspace, Synnex and Thomas Duryea Logicalis.

Steven Worrall, managing director of Microsoft Australia, will sponsor the MCC Microsoft Partner Group which includes CEOs or MDs of the foundation partners. 

Elizabeth Broderick, former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner and founder of Male Champions of Change said, “The Male Champions of Change strategy is about male leaders stepping up beside women to lead with action to advance gender equality. While no two MCC groups are identical – being shaped by business, social, and industry considerations – they all have at their heart a deep commitment to driving diversity and inclusion.

“This approach is a major innovation – where leaders within a business ecosystem are taking charge to change that system. Technology is transforming every industry on earth. It is critically important that women are part of that transformation.”

Globally, Microsoft has committed to making a 1 per cent increase every year in employing women. The local MCC cohort will commit to similar goals to improve the gender diversity within the ICT industry in Australia.

Rachel Bondi, Chief Partner Officer, Microsoft Australia and Co-Chair of the MCC Microsoft Partner Group said that the group’s formation was critically important given the challenges women were facing during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The first meeting of the group decided to fast track on three priority action areas – building flexible workplaces, developing new approaches to attracting and retaining women in the sector, and leveraging equality to encourage successful transformation. Working together we can have an important multiplier effect and help to accelerate the entire Australian tech sector’s drive for inclusion and diversity,” Bondi said. 

“As more of our partners come on board, the conversation regarding the importance of tech sector diversity and inclusion will be amplified; new programs to encourage women into the sector will emerge; capability will improve and corporate cultures will become more inclusive. Together we can strive for gender equality across our industry and serve as a diversity beacon for other sectors of the economy.”

According to research from McKinsey & Co, inclusion and diversity are at risk in the COVID-19 crisis despite being critical for business recovery and resilience. 

Vlad Mitnovetski, CEO, Dicker Data said, “The entire working landscape has fundamentally changed because of COVID-19 – but the challenges associated with ensuring gender diversity are if anything magnified. As we emerge from this pandemic, there is a real opportunity to reset our workplaces, to build in greater flexibility, create new career pathways and increase opportunities for women.

“We have established working groups to look at these priority areas and find ways to enact important and necessary change,” he added.

Steven Worrall noted that finding ways to encourage gender diversity is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. 

“Research reveals that gender diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to financially outperform male-dominated peers while in Australia, the Grattan Institute has estimated that adding 6 per cent more women to the workforce could add $25 billion to our GDP,” he said.

“I’m proud that so many of our partners are invested in creating positive change in gender equality in their organisations and within the broader ICT ecosystem. MCC provides a platform to drive disruptive action across the whole of the tech sector and create better workplaces for everyone.”

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