As part of our Women in Events month, this special feature spotlights AV company dplr who are leading the way for Gender and LGBTIQA+ inclusivity in our industry.
15 years ago, on one of her first days working in the AV industry, Liz Astey was keen to jump in the back of a truck, to learn, meet new people and start a long and exciting career.
“I remember this old guy told me as I was packing a truck, he goes, ‘you know women shouldn’t be in this industry, they just shouldn’t,’ and I thought to myself ‘What are you talking about?! I’m doing the same amount of work as everyone else and able to lift as much as you!’”.
Liz has worked in the events and entertainment industry across outdoor festivals, theatre and music, making her way up from site crew to production director, continually rolling up her sleeves to challenge the long-held views of women on worksites.
“It’s a very poor reflection on what the industry looks like today because I think it’s really encouraging and inviting now; it’s definitely getting better. But I think people need to be more active in their hiring of diverse candidates and not pick the person that’s right in front of them,” she adds.
dplr on site at Carriageworks Bay 17
Nowadays Liz heads up dplr (pronounced “doppler”), a Sydney-based production company specialising in events, technical, creative and live streaming, envisioned over a pint of beer three years ago by Liz and her business partner Andy Lysle. After being mates for many years, they decided to combine their expertise in production operations and technical management to create dplr and bring into practice the vision of a more inclusive workplace, employing talented individuals of diverse backgrounds.
dplr employs eight full-time staff, and a casual workforce with anywhere between 20 to 40 people when not in a pandemic. The company actively celebrates that 50% of employees are women or gender diverse individuals and all staff are supported to excel in their jobs. Liz is also very proud that dplr is leading the way by being the only technical company in Sydney run by a queer woman (that being her!).
“I want to create more opportunities for people who are female or who are part of the LGBTIQA+ community. I want to make sure that any person from any walk of life can feel like they can walk into our company and say, ‘I would like a job, this is what I want to do,’ and we go ‘okay let’s put you on a trial’”, Liz tells Gig Nation. “I want to be the person that’s saying yes, let’s make opportunities, let’s find the right job for you and support you to defy stereotypes.”
“Being queer and being in this industry is awesome” Liz continues. “I’m very lucky to be who I am and I’m lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people. We’ve been very careful and very particular about who gets to join our team because we want them to align on our company values.”
Liz with some of the dplr team
Creating an inclusive workplace environment is just another integral part of dplr’s blueprint and their hope is that their team can bring their full selves to work, where everyone feels listened to and they can have a laugh every day.
“We don’t want dplr to look like any other company; we want it to reflect the world around us. We have created a supportive work culture from the top down – as senior managers we try to lead by example, treating everyone with respect and imbuing our personalities within everything that we do. That’s what we want dplr to reflect” Liz says. “We are incredibly proud of who we are in the industry, and we are incredibly proud that we sit a bit different to everybody else.”
Not only is dplr at the forefront of transforming the face of the AV industry, it also leaped head-first into the great pivot of events and festivals into the digital space. At only three years old and with half of that time in a pandemic, dplr has managed to pivot quickly and successfully in order to respond to local restrictions, now with a focus on live streaming to produce performances, seminars, talk events, school ceremonies, funerals and much more. By working closely with former and new clients, Liz says that dplr has been able to weather the storm precisely because of the open-minded nature of its hand-picked staff.
“Ultimately it’s what kept us afloat and what made us expand during the pandemic. We got really busy with live streaming towards the end of last year and our workload increased so much that we needed to expand our workforce by two full-time staff, which was unexpected but a testament to what we are doing in the industry,” Liz says.
dplr on the job