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The team at KJR says winning the inaugural AIIA Diversity Award has led to opportunities with new clients. It’s also reaffirmed its belief that diversity and inclusion is integral to solving real world problems, creating brighter futures and boosting staff morale.

While tech is at the core of KJR’s service and expertise, its people drive its purpose. And when those people share the company’s long-held commitment to diversity and inclusion, good things happen.

Some of these good things come by way of industry recognition ­– such as being the first winner of the AIIA’s Diversity Award, sponsored by DELL Technologies.

KJR’s Marketing and Project Officer Amy Lepinay and QLD General Manager Graham Cummins at the iAwards 2023 gala National Ceremony.

“The recognition has been a real catalyst for new opportunities with clients that weren’t there previously,” says Brett Lyndon, KJR Strategic Business Development Manager. “Our work in this diversity space opens up conversations with prospective customers which we otherwise would not have.”

Other good things stem from collaboration within KJR’s diverse team of about 120 people, including some 100 consultants, which hail from 28 different countries and speak 15 languages between them.

The good things ramp-up again when the KJR team is unleashed to work on programs aligned to its CSR charter. Brett says programs are focused on using technology for a positive social, environmental and economic impact, and creating sustainable futures for disadvantaged communities.

Diversity instilled from the “get-go”
The mid-sized consultancy with offices in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and clients all over Australia, was thrilled to win the Diversity Award, especially being up against much bigger companies.

Talent and Culture Manager Sheemal Visun says key to this achievement is the vision for diversity that KJR founder and chairman Dr Kelvin Ross instilled into the KJR leadership team from “the get-go”.

“He wanted everyone to feel that they are well-respected and heard and valued,” she says. “The leadership team has been coached up to say, ‘it’s not about the business, it’s about the people’.”

“So, if you take care of your people and you make them feel respected and valued, they see the business as more of a collective, a community, a home.”

This approach – and the chance to work on innovative projects for a positive impact ­– garners more good things, including the ability to retain valued staff.

Programs that elevate people and tech
In recognising KJR as a deserving Diversity Award winner, the AIIA took into account the excellent programs that KJR has instigated.

Sharing expertise with Indigenous communities and businesses
Amy Lepinay, KJR’s Marketing and Project Officer, says KJR is a founding member and major sponsor of the Indigenous Australia Datathon. The annual two-day “hack-athon” is a favourite among staff who enjoy the unique “two way” learning opportunity of helping Indigenous people solve problems they face on country.

“There’s a lot to learn from the Indigenous communities,” says Amy. “They bring their own knowledge, own approach and way of thinking.”

Just some of the solutions developed include using drones and drone data to address fire risks and feral pig populations. While another solution automatically converts a ranger’s handwritten notes into documents so the ranger can spend more time on country.

The KJR team work with Indigenous communities to solve problems they are facing on country.

The annual Indigenous Australian Datathon is one of the KJR team’s favourite events. Photo: Indigenous Australian Datathon.Partnering with like-minded businesses
KJR partners with various organisations aligned to its charter. There’s Substation33, a social enterprise that recycles and repurposes used hardware and e-waste and also focuses on employing people with disabilities and from marginalised backgrounds. KJR donates re-purposed hardware for its staff to use.

There’s also Salty Monkeys, a Torres Strait-based First Nations-owned and operated business that works to clean up ocean debris and creates clothing from recycled waste.  KJR is helping the team use drones and AI to map the area that needs to be cleared.

Supporting a pipeline of women in tech
As a way to encourage more women into tech, KJR works with the Queensland University of Technology to build tech communities for women and support more women into tech positions.

“The idea is to have that safe space where women who are into technology can really get mentoring from sponsors and our team, and to network and get industry experience,” says Amy.

One third of KJR’s staff are female, higher than the industry average. Sheemal says while KJR doesn’t commit to formal quotas, there’s a constant effort among leaders to create an environment where all staff feel “safe to put their best foot forward” when career opportunities arise, and to create opportunities for people who strongly believe in KJR’s business and values.

A goal worth for reaching for
Sheemal says the team is still riding high from the win and want others to experience the good that both awards, and diversity and inclusion brings.

“Hopefully we can motivate and inspire smaller firms who are doing amazing things to also share their great work and go forward for awards.”

Find out more about the Diversity Award and how to submit your entry.

Entries close 5pm, Friday 31 May, 2024