Photo of a room full of people facing away from the camera in an office-like room, showing a person speaking at the front of the room

Last week we hosted five incredible speakers and a room full of inquisitive minds at our workshop 'Diversity in the innovation ecosystem’ in partnership with Committee for Melbourne, as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week.

We set out to share learnings about the importance of cultural diversity and inclusion through stories from our speakers and interactive group activities, with a goal to generate ideas and model methods that attendees could take back to their organisations.

We’d like to thank everyone who came along, the Paper Giant event team for all their hard work, and our speakers, Lesley Gillan (ACMI), Lynn Nguyen (Scope Australia), Calvin Cordle (NAB), Mario Visic (Envato) and Ruth De Souza (independent consultant).

Here’s what happened

We opened the session by sharing our reasons for organising this event.

“We care a lot about inclusion and diversity, but we do not claim to be experts on these issues. Like most other small businesses, we’re grappling with the challenge of creating an inclusive and safe workspace for a diverse range of staff, contractors, clients and other stakeholders. We put this event on because we want to support each other to have these tricky conversations and to learn from and with others.”

And more broadly: “We know that diversity fuels creativity and innovation. We know that we’re facing unprecedented environmental and social challenges that we need to address together. So how can we make our teams and organisations more inclusive and safe for a diverse range of people?”

Lesley talked about the journey ACMI has started in including, acknowledging and celebrating First Nations people in their planning, workforce, and curation. ‘Support from the top’ and self-determination are the key principles guiding this work.

Photo of a woman holding a microphone in front of an audience, with a screen behind her which reads "Acknowledging and Celebrating First Nations People"

Lynn from Scope Australia recommended understanding exactly why diversity and inclusion are important to you. Everyone will have different reasons. For Lynn, it’s because she’s often the only non-white female in the room.

Calvin Cordle from NAB shared his experience inheriting a team of 200 bankers that were 100% white male and how he worked on diversifying the gender in that team.

Mario talked about the Apprentice Developer training program he is running at Envato, which has a focus on diversity by accepting underrepresented groups, starting with women.

Ruth, as rapporteur, reflected on the speaker’s presentations, sharing what stood out for her and offering some provocations or questions for attendees to consider, including this quote:

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
— Lilla Watson

More than a panel presentation

After the presentations, we offered a choice of five small group activities to participate in. Each group used a co-design tool or method that aims to support action-oriented conversations. Each tool or method is something you can take back to your organisation to have conversations there.

Legoplay

We asked people to use Lego to answer the question: What does inclusion look like in your work?

Photo of a pile of coloured lego blocks spread over a table, with people surrounding the pile making things
Photo of a small scene created in lego, beside a pile of lego blocks, with a person holding an iPhone to use the torch light feature to light up the lego scene

The resource used for this activity was Lego Serious Play (TM).

Storyboarding

The free downloadable scenes sets we used for the storyboarding activity were from SAP.

Photo of a table with scissors and simple illustrations of buildings and people, with one such illustration being cut out by someone

Round robin

We created a scenario and worksheet specifically for this workshop, based on the method of round-robin brainstorming.

Photo of a group of seven people sitting around an office table, mostly having discussions in pairs

Challenges & opportunities

This activity involved two concentric circles: the person in the outer circle shares a challenge, then the person opposite them suggests how to address it. The circles rotate and repeat. Half-way through the activity, the roles of the inner and outer circles and swapped, so everyone has a chance to be on both the challenge and opportunity side.

Photo of a group of people standing in front of a whiteboard covered in coloured post-it notes

Open discussion

We also offered attendees the option to have free-form discussion on the topic of diversity and inclusion, rather than joining one of the group activities.

Co-design resources

For more on co-design methods, see:

What are you going to do next?

Here’s what you told us:

Photo of several pink and yellow post it notes on a whiteboard which read "Using lego to start conversations", "More active sessions in workshops!" and "Get my team to drive the change and become the enablers"

And for us?

Paper Giant are currently undertaking a cultural competence review and continuing to support other organisations in their endeavours to embed cultural safety and address inequity.

We strive to continue evolving our organisation for the better, while sharing our journey and what we learn.

Further reading

Over many months of preparation for this event, we found ourselves sharing articles and ideas within the event team, which has culminated in a list of Diversity and Inclusion References (view-only Google Doc). We wanted to share these more broadly, so have opened it up to be a publicly viewable document. This will continue to evolve over time, and we welcome any feedback or suggestions.


This event was part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 20–26 May 2019, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne. Paper Giant hosted this event in partnership with Committee for Melbourne.