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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.

Nick Di’Lodovico at REA Group explained: “We want to have an impact which extends beyond the four walls of REA Group. A lot of the work we are doing in the diversity and inclusion space is intended to benefit the community, such as our White Ribbon Accreditation or the work we are doing to be more inclusive of transgender and intersex employees.”

Envato is also focussed on supporting the LBGTI community with its program known as “Out Envato” which provides education to its people on what language is appropriate and preferred, and business policies and guidelines are written with this very much in mind. Envato is also a regular participant in the ‘Australian workforce equality index’.

Envato’s program was created by people within the business and supported by the executive team and board.

“The benefits are not just commercially sound, it’s also the right thing to do” says Envato’s Law.

He says commercial benefits are “often anecdotal, however we have seen a spike in staff engagement since our diversity programs have been launched’.

REA Group’s Di’Lodovico echoed this, saying the company had seen a 20 per cent uplift in ‘parents feeling supported in the workplace‘ and a 10 per cent jump in people feeling like we are ‘investing in a diverse & inclusive culture.’

REA Group has specific gender targets of their senior leadership team being 50 per cent women by 2018, achieving this would certainly make them an industry leader given the recent Davidson DiversIT report indicating the current industry average being a miserly 14 per cent.

Neither MYOB nor Envato have hard targets in mind for female workforce participation. Their primary reason for this is that they feel all candidates should feel they are awarded roles by merit rather than the possibility of thinking they are appointed in order to meet a company quota.

Aubrey Blanche says Atlassian do not mandate quotas but it has internal targets, and the company’s performance in this area is published on its website.

“If we truly want to make a dent in the issue we need to refocus the conversation on more meaningful indicators like team diversity and inclusiveness,” said Blanche. “That wider diversity lens needs to be met with investment in initiatives that can move those needles,” she says.

The Atlassian focus is largely on the diversity of teams rather than the entire organisation, with a specific focus in its Sydney headquarters on the distribution of women across various divisions and locations.

I am proud to be part of a technology industry that has come a long way and often leads the discussion on this issue. We have a long way to go, no doubt. However these are some excellent examples of organisations within the tech industry that other organisations and indeed other industries can learn from.

I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead, and seeing the tangible benefits that diversity will bring to our technology industry in Australia.


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