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How 4 companies created successful workforce diversity programs

Damien Ross | Nov. 15, 2016
The stereotypical technology worker was an introverted 30 to 50 year old male, usually Caucasian, occasionally Indian.

“Diversity and inclusion statements are useless without a ‘why’, he says. “MYOB’s ‘why’ is connected with its values, ensuring happy, better functioning teams, providing opportunities for people to grow all underpinned by sound commercial benefit.”

At Envato, the diversity challenge was driven by its people, with the full support of the executive and board. Lack of diversity is problem is not solved by organisations stealing female developers from one another, says Envato’s James.

Envato’s co-founder Cyan Ta’eed, created a program called “League of Extraordinary Inclusiveness.” This would help the organisation understand which working environment would promote inclusiveness and ‘flexibility’ was identified as paramount, James said.

Today Envato operate core hours of 10am to 4pm, where people can work remotely anytime as long as they are ‘available’.

Envato also offer 18 weeks’ paid maternity leave and they have a program that assists females returning to work from maternity leave.

Ta’eed is also one of a few notable female technology leaders sharing their stories with young females to promote technology as a career and encouraging female enrolments into STEM undergraduate studies.

Policies and words are one thing, action is another. MYOB has recently implemented its DevelopHER program and Envato has its ‘Apprentice Program.’ Both initiatives are aimed at providing opportunities for females to become programmers.

Targeting those females with an interest in technology rather than skills and experience. The MYOB DevelopHER program is a 360 hour paid internship, designed to kick start careers.

Benefits beyond female participation

MYOB’s Sullivan talked about how the DevelopHER program has opportunities for MYOB beyond addressing female participation.

“This is a program that can have application across other minority groups and creating greater diversity across the fin-tech industry,” he says.

Team diversity translates to a better design and user interface and the way a team is designed will reflect the final product, says Sullivan.

“Diversity of thought is essential in designing systems for a wider market, 50 per cent of MYOB users are female so we need to design to suit that market.”

Atlassian has built significant programs focused on promoting its brand and the benefits that fit with female employees as well as promoting stories of successful Atlassian females in their ‘Women at Atlassian’ program.

Complementing this, staff have undertaken action-oriented ‘unconscious bias’ training and changes to the candidate evaluation process focussing on ‘value fit’ rather than ‘culture fit’.

As a result Atlassian is able to boast that 47 per cent of current interns and 50 per cent of the incoming graduate class are females.

During the past year, REA Group has created targeted programs to support increased workforce participation, particularly of women in leadership and technology and the LGBTI community.


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