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Students #workwithpride to secure spot in international inclusion initiative

18 June 2018
Our students pitched to over 200 global leaders
By taking a fresh approach to an old problem, a team of University of Sydney students won the opportunity to present a business pitch at Pride and Prejudice, a major international LGBT+ inclusion conference in Hong Kong.
A team of University of Sydney students

Akshat Marwah (BCom), Bill Chan (BCom/LLB), Kieran Pain (BCom/LLB), and Nikki Liang (Arts/LLB) pitched to over 200 global leaders at the conference, including representatives from the World Bank, the United Nations, Goldman Sachs, American Airlines and ABN AMRO.

Pride and Prejudice is a global LGBT+ conference and forum for influential business decision-makers, government policy-makers, and innovative thinkers to discuss and address the economic and human costs of discrimination against the LGBT+ community.

The students received the opportunity after being shortlisted as one of three finalist teams in The Economist and Goldman Sachs’ #WorkWithPride competition, which invites young professionals from across the Asia-Pacific to propose innovative initiatives to promote LGBT+ inclusion in and outside their communities.

“The team and I were really excited to present on such an important issue. At a fundamental level, no one should be arbitrarily made to feel like an outsider because of things like gender, sexuality, race or ability,” said Kieran. “The fact that 53 per cent of LGBT workers feel the need to hide who they are at work shows that unfortunately, this exclusion still goes on.”

The team has proposed a Virtual Reality (VR) training app that puts users into the shoes of an LGBT+ fictional colleague to experience workplace interactions from an LGBT+ perspective and trigger an empathetic response in the user.

The app, to be called Denouement, aims to disrupt traditional methods of diversity and inclusion training by offering a more affordable and effective solution. Denouement refers to the final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.

According to the team, VR has a 75 per cent information retention rate, while traditional teaching methods yield a 10 per cent retention rate. Their research also showed that whilst a two-hour diversity training session can cost $2,500 in the current market, the VR alternative would cost only the price of the headset – as low as $10.

“The culture at The University of Sydney really fosters innovation and solutions leveraging emerging technology and helped us take a fresh approach to an old problem,” said Bill.

“It’s great that the Business School supports clubs and societies which encourage us to participate in these extra-curriculars too – our team wouldn’t have come across this competition if it weren’t for the FMAA (Financial Management Association of Australia),” added Nikki.

The Sydney team were sent to Hong Kong to participate in the #WorkWithPride mentorship programme. They are required to present a minimum viable product to The Economist and Goldman Sachs in September.

“We feel very lucky to have been chosen as a finalist,” said Nikki. “It’s a tremendous privilege to be invited to attend and present at the Pride and Prejudice conference.”