TAL looks for opportunities to boost women in tech

Internal Women in Technology forum looks at getting more women into data careers

Australia’s largest life insurer, TAL, is working to boost the ranks of women in IT both within the organisation and in the tech sector more generally.

Within TAL, a monthly Women in Technology forum brings together people from across the company to plan initiatives that can provide more opportunities for women in IT.

The forum brings together a range of women who work in technology functions across the company, said TAL general manager of IT solutions delivery, Caroline Rockett.

“Through that process we come up with initiatives we think we can bring into TAL, or have TAL be part of, as means of encouraging females to become part of IT,” she said.

“From my perspective, having a diverse workforce is not just about the moral and social aspects of it — it just makes good sense,” Rockett said.

“Having a diverse workforce gives us different experiences and perspectives, and this leads to a better environment; and a more, I think, holistic decision-making process.”

“It opens up a lot more innovative thinking,” she added.

One recent project has been a series of ‘Data Girl’ events in Australia. The original Data Girl concept was launched in the Czech Republic by Czechitas and Keboola.

Recent Melbourne and Sydney Data Girl events were made possible through a partnership between TAL, Keboola and Yellowfin and were held in the insurer’s offices.

“We work with them to run a series of workshops and invite female participation, opening it up to allow women — and not just women at TAL but any women — to come along to learn more about the data world,” Rockett said.

“It’s a workshop for women that demystifies the world of IT,” she added. “It’s particularly targeted at women with a non-technical background and gives them insights into the world of data and the complexities behind it. It also gives them, I think, an opportunity to think about data as a way of stepping into the technology world.”

This is the second year that the Data Girl workshops have been run in Australia.

The insurer is “absolutely” looking to run further workshops, Rockett said. “I think this will be a long-term investment approach for what we’re doing in terms of the women in technology space.”

Backing the workshop is just one initiative being pursued by TAL to boost the percentage of women in IT, she added.

The monthly internal forum is a chance to review existing initiatives and consider further opportunities, she said. The group is currently considering whether there are any ways to deliver additional support to working parents at TAL, she said.

“We are also taking a much more targeted and structured approach with internships as well as grad programs,” she added. “TAL formally, from an IT perspective, only entered into a graduate program as of last year.”

Rockett said the forum was looking at the recruitment process to find ways to increase gender balance.

Another ongoing priority is looking for ways to increase the number of women studying technology, potentially launching projects focused on primary or secondary students.

“That will then create more opportunities to bring women into technology careers,” she said.