Airtasker’s Tim Fung: Leaders Must Work Harder on Diversity

Airtasker’s Tim Fung

Tech entrepreneur Tim Fung is passionate about diversity with the company he founded 11 years ago, Airtasker, built upon it. As CEO, he says creating an inclusive culture is fundamental to business. Speaking at Qantas magazine’s Think. event, held at harbourside restaurant Sala in Sydney’s Pyrmont, Fung explains how the tech industry can do better.

“Leaders need to slow down, do the research to understand how DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] applies to their business and be authentic. If you’re talking in platitudes to tick a box on a DEI checklist or to meet ASX standards, that’s toxic,” says Fung.

The founder acknowledges the tech industry isn’t renowned for gender diversity. “Particularly in Silicon Valley, where the people making the investment decisions tend to come from one kind of cohort. It’s a pretty entrenched boys’ club, which sadly I think is going to take quite a long time to unwind.”

Airtasker’s Tim Fung

A challenge to tech leaders seeking to recruit women in software engineering, says Fung, is that the majority of graduates are male. It takes intentional effort to try to level the playing field. “At Airtasker, we take proactive actions to change the marketing channels when we go out to recruit; we use different advertising boards and we’ve sponsored women in tech events and female coding academies.”

Fung sees diversity and inclusion as central to successful innovation and he’s invested in bringing diversity training into Airtasker – though he concedes providers “vary in quality”. Still, it helps to move the needle. “That training definitely cascades down through the organisation and builds awareness of some of the biases that exist in how we operate our business. Creating awareness of those biases is super-powerful in its own right.”

Airtasker’s Tim Fung

Fostering a strong DEI culture is also vital to the company’s long-term success, says Fung. “We’re a pretty small organisation and for us, inclusion means being able to bring your whole self to work and feel you’re in a safe space to do your best work.”

While cognisant of his own privilege, Fung says his experiences of exclusion have informed his thoughts on the importance of DEI. “I’m a male, I went to a good school, I was born in Australia, so I’ve got a lot of privilege and I’ve felt pretty lucky.

“But there have been moments when I’ve stepped back and realised that I actually have been excluded from a network. I didn’t even know what I was missing out on until it was put in front of me.”

Think. is a thought-leadership event and content series, presented by Qantas magazine and in association with LSH Auto Australia – the country’s leading Mercedes-Benz dealer group. Find out more about LSH Auto Australia.

SEE ALSO: Lisa Annese: Leaders Can Make a Business Case For Diversity

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