In this interview, Letitia Hope, a representative of ISPT, speaks about their continued support of initiatives like the Women Leading Tech awards that showcase great stories and successes, highlighting pathways for women to enter the tech industry.
ISPT sees advocacy as everyone’s responsibility in the industry and sponsors the Women Leading Tech Advocacy award, which recognises a company’s initiatives to scale up opportunities for women to enter and thrive in tech.
Their redesign of 477 on Pitt Street, in Sydney’s burgeoning Tech Central precinct, reflects the company’s vision of lifestyle working as a crucial component of Tech Central, and they strive to add to women’s lives, progression, and wellbeing. This includes a variety of initiatives to support tenants’ wellbeing, such as a STEM-focused school holiday program, the EPIC Paw Club, a wellbeing room, and a deck designed by Indigenous landscape architects.
It’s been just less than a year since we first sat down with Letitia Hope, partnership specialist at ISPT. Now we’re back with Hope to find out just how ISPT’s innovative development has been championing diversity, nurturing tech talent, and reimagining the workplace for women.
B&T: We’re delighted to have 477 returning as a sponsor for the awards this year. What drove the decision to continue your support?
LH: Initiatives like the Women Leading Tech awards give a platform for so many great stories and successes to be heard, and we really just want to shine the light on those incredible stories.
The more people see and hear great stories, and they’re not always the big unicorn stories, the more it showcases diverse pathways for women into tech.
Do you think initiatives like the Women Leading Tech Awards are still relevant to the tech industry?
The stats haven’t changed too much in a year. The representation of women in tech is still around one in four. So, yes, I think anything that’s helping us positively change that representation, not just for gender, but for diversity in all its dimensions makes the awards very relevant.
What was your favourite part of last year’s awards?
That it was such a large gathering of supportive people. There are so many elements of tech, and it was great for people to be celebrating and recognising all those essential components, and to just truly be happy for others.
We also heard that after the awards, the recognition led to new job opportunities and other different opportunities. That’s the other great thing; it’s not just the night, it’s what comes from the night.
477 is sponsoring the Advocacy award this year, which is very exciting. What’s special about this award to you, and to 477?
The thing about advocacy is everyone in this industry can play a part in encouraging and facilitating more women getting into tech. That’s what we see as really important, because the more we all do that, the more opportunities will open for women and other underrepresented groups.
And what makes a company stand out to you as an advocate?
It would be the impact of the company’s initiatives to really scale up opportunities for women throughout their careers to enter tech, or even cross over into tech from other sectors. Also, whether we can learn from the ingenuity of those initiatives and if there’s scope for it to be broadened, or even adopted by other organisations.
When we last caught up, 477 was in the process of being reimagined as the talent incubator of emerging entrepreneurs, many of whom are women. You mentioned: “What we’re focused on are places that enrich, excite and energise people.”
Do you have any updates about its development for us?
Our redevelopment works are due to be finished at the beginning of May, and the transformation is really exciting! The people within the precinct are so focused on making it a success and achieving the goals of the Tech Central precinct, which is to be the most inclusive, sustainable, and welcoming incubator of incredible minds.
There are so many parts of the building that have been created to invite the tech community in and have heralded in tech neighbours to the precinct, which is the main thing for us. You may not have a presence in that space as a tenant partner of 477, but you can certainly come in and utilise the space and its facilities to collaborate and connect, and contribute to what can be created when people get together within Tech Central.
For example, the ground floor of 477 has undergone a total transformation as well with The Verandah inviting visitors inside via its airy arrival space, draped in greenery to maintain that inside/outside connection. We’ve also got lots of open areas to ensure that it’s a great space for incubation, collaboration, connection, and collision of tech and arts. For example, our beautiful, heritage space, called the “collider space”, which will be amazing for events and expos.
All of these shared spaces will cultivate a connected community, which is at the heart of 477’s reimagination. Visitors and tenant partners alike can use The Sitting Room for informal meetings or enjoy the Sun Deck for a sun-drenched escape from business as usual settings to socialise and unwind.
You also mentioned, “A key part of Tech Central is to bring lifestyle working to play by introducing epic innovators that are adding to women’s lives, to their progression and their wellbeing”.
What sorts of initiatives have been set in motion since we last spoke?
We’re doing lots of collaborating and co-creating with our tenant partners within 477 to develop both formal and informal ways to encourage people’s well-being.
We’ve implemented a subsidised STEM-focused school holiday program with a parent’s room as part of the amenity to support families and ensure they can flourish both in their personal and professional lives without having to make any sacrifices. We’ve also initiated our EPIC Paw Club at 477 so there’s no need to leave furry friends at home. We’ve already seen the difference it makes to our tenant partners having their four-legged companions welcomed at 477; it’s certainly a win for wellbeing at work.
There’s a a well-being room that will be used for classes we provide, whether they be more traditional learning through to HIIT and dance classes, plus Peloton bikes for people to access on-site as part of their well-being practises. We also engaged Indigenous landscape architects to help design our terrace garden, who have created such an incredible outdoor space. We know that it’s so important to have that for people to seek a bit of respite in their day, or just offer a different space to work in and enjoy the daylight.
We’re also creating ‘Flex Co’ as one of our new Flex by ISPT offerings, which will be for shared working providing spaces for people to come in, such as collaborators or consultants and be part of the 477 community in a more casual way. We understand that people work quite differently now and need this variety to be able to deliver great outcomes. There’ll be meeting rooms for this purpose, but also quiet rooms and library areas in that space for people to use for different styles and types of work, socialising or collaborating.
One last question; I’m curious what would define success for you as an innovator that is championing women in tech? What should like organisations be striving towards?
I feel for us at 477, if we can see that it’s a place women in tech are coming to and want to come back to. But beyond the walls of our tenant partners; if these women really want to be a part of the community and what we’re offering as a whole precinct.
If we can see women feeling and knowing that they have a safe place to connect and develop to reach their potential in the industry, that will be a great success for us.
The 2023 Women Leading Tech Awards are on tonight at the ICC Sydney, Grand Ballroom. Stay tuned to find out who our prestigious prizewinners are!
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