Tech leaders unite against sexism: A crowdsourced solution

- March 11, 2024 2 MIN READ

Good news from the startup and tech sector off the back of International Women’s Day. Hundreds of Australian tech leaders have joined forces to produce a new resource, Addressing Sexism in Australian Tech & Investment.

The initiative spearheaded by Elaine Stead, founder of Human VC, calls for the sector to take a stand against sexism, bullying, harassment, and abuse. Joining Stead on her mission is PR agency Third Hemisphere and a who’s who of the startup and VC sector, including Blackbird, the Australian Investment Council, Southern Angels, and ANDHealth Operations Director Jenna Polson.

A living document for continuous progress

Stead says Addressing Sexism in Australian Tech & Investment is designed to be a dynamic resource. The document compiles industry codes of conduct, reporting mechanisms, and enforcement measures. She says it will serve as a practical guide for companies seeking to confront sexism who may lack the necessary resources or expertise to do so effectively.
“When we put out a public request for input to this industry-wide resource, many people proactively asked ‘how can we help?’. Yet in the ensuing forty-plus conversations we had, it became clear that many tech sector leaders had no idea how to address the problem, and weren’t aware that they were contributing to the issues themselves in various ways,” Stead said.

Breaking barriers to addressing poor behaviour

Stead suggests the resource may never be completed—instead, it will be a living document with continuous collaboration from stakeholders. The hope is that the document will serve as a blueprint to reduce the barriers to tackling poor behaviour within the tech and startup sector. Stead believes many small companies, despite having good intentions, often lack the resources and training to address the issues. By providing a free central resource, the initiative aims to empower startups of all sizes to foster more inclusive and respectful workplaces.

Industry-wide approach to a complex issue

Hannah Moreno, founder and managing Director of Third Hemisphere, suggests that an industry-wide approach to combating sexism is essential.
“An industry-wide problem needs an industry-wide approach to finding a solution. It also shouldn’t fall solely to victims to solve an issue they didn’t create,” Moreno said.As public scrutiny on sexism in various sectors continues to intensify, Moreno says taking a proactive approach becomes essential. By actively participating in initiatives like Addressing Sexism in Australian Tech & Investment, startups not only demonstrate their commitment to fostering inclusive environments but also mitigate risks associated with public backlash and reputational damage.

“Getting on the front foot and joining this movement is not just the right thing to do: it is the best way for companies and individuals to avoid being penalised by the public, media, and capital markets,” Moreno concluded.

You can download the resource here.

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