Diversity and inclusion are prominent buzzwords in the tech industry at the moment. At ThemeKeeper, we don’t think it’s a bad thing that companies are getting more interested in this. And for us, it’s not a fad.
Diversity and inclusion at Envato: Where we stand in 2017
The lack of diversity in the tech industry is well documented, particularly at executive level, with many top US tech companies in the spotlight. Even amongst lower ranks, large and well known tech powerhouses are seriously lacking in their gender diversity in particular. Both Facebook and Apple have only 32 percent female workforce; Uber has reported a 36.1 percent female workforce. For racial diversity, these stats are even lower.
The go-to response from large tech companies has traditionally been to blame “the pipeline” of majority white, male graduates. However, this has been challenged. Data shows that in 2014, black students in the US received 9.7% of the bachelor degrees in computer science, but make up only 3 percent of the top 75 companies in Silicon Valley.
Ongoing criticism demands that companies can and should do more to enable a more inclusive workforce. We need to implement programs and actively encourage change to see the industry improve. As ThemeKeeper’s Founder Collis Ta’eed said at a recent all company meeting, this isn’t even about doing the right thing – even though it is – it’s a necessary and important way to conduct business.
“Employees from various backgrounds and with different life experiences can generate ideas that others may not have considered or been aware of. When tackling an issue in a project, it’s so much better that we have multiple interpretations and approaches rather than everyone contributing the same thoughts or ideas. Diversity and inclusiveness at ThemeKeeper has helped increase the productivity of our team.” – Yasmin Fatima, Reporting Analyst
For the past year, we have worked on many initiatives related to diversity and inclusion at ThemeKeeper, including dedicating a new role to diversity and inclusion. The goal is to make sure we’re doing the right thing by all the members of our team and living up to our commitment to be an inclusive workplace for all. This is, after all, one of our core values. That means making ThemeKeeper great for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or the state of their mental health.
“We’re working hard to improve ThemeKeeper for all of our team members. We don’t just want to make our workplace better though, we want to improve the wider tech industry too.” – Abbie Burgess, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
This is the third year we’ve voluntarily reported on the state of gender diversity of the ThemeKeeper team. Reporting these results gives us an opportunity to review what we’ve achieved over the past 12 months and discuss our plans for the year ahead. More on that below.
However ThemeKeeper’s D&I roadmap/agenda/focus goes beyond just gender diversity. Some of the other initiatives we have rolled out in the last 12 months include:
Developer apprentice program for women
This program is a fully paid initiative open to any woman who would like to apply. A dedicated mentor trains and equips the apprentices with skills to become junior developers, which usually takes 9-12 months, with the end goal of employment at ThemeKeeper. It’s a grassroots program developed in-house, and not affiliated with any university or external education provider. We currently have the first two apprentices completing the program at ThemeKeeper’s Melbourne HQ.
“There is a shortage of women in the industry and this can only be remedied by training female apprentices/juniors to enter the industry thereby increasing the hiring pool. The apprentice program is a great initiative to encourage/train more women into the industry.” – Jaime Gunther, Developer Apprentice
External remuneration review
An internal remuneration review was undertaken to ensure our team were being paid appropriately. This was important for us to double check so we had an external provider also review the salaries of the team in 2017. This found none of our roles reflected unequal pay according to gender.
Mental health training for managers
Workshops were held for the ThemeKeeper leadership team and all people managers around mental health. These were designed to give managers tools to support someone experiencing mental health challenges and guide them to take appropriate next steps.
“Not only did the facilitator bring great awareness of the different types of mental health problems people face in the community, but also gave us some practical tools to help us support our teams better. I particularly liked that the training highlighted that the act of really listening was one of the best ways to provide that support.” – Blake Ashley, Author Quality Manager
Pride in diversity awareness and ally sessions
It’s well documented that people who identify as LGBTI need allies from the hetero world. As such we have held a number of sessions focussing on LGBTI Ally Awareness to talk about what it takes to be an Ally and how to help the LGBTI community.
“These programs send a strong signal that an organisation is aware of issues facing the LGBTI community. This has a huge impact on how comfortable an employee feels discussing even basic things like their partner with colleagues. We all have a right to feel comfortable being ourselves at work and these programs really help drive that.” – Luke Meehan, Senior Product Manager
Partnership with Code Like a Girl
This year ThemeKeeper was announced as being an official national partner for Code Like a Girl, a Melbourne based social enterprise that encourages and supports Australian women to achieve coding jobs and leadership roles in tech. This is a year-long sponsorship that involves quarterly women’s leadership and development workshops, a series of presentations and mentor and mentee opportunities.
“We’re passionate about addressing the gender gap in tech. Working with Code Like a Girl is a match made in heaven because we come together and work on something we both care deeply about.” – Brent Thomson, Talent Acquisition Specialist
We hold a number of informal talks in the Melbourne office, some of which focus on LGBTI and mental health awareness. Some examples of talks held include a winter health seminar, a guide to building resilience, and how to have proactive mental health conversations.
Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) submission
Over the past twelve months, we worked hard to ensure all types of diversity and inclusion are celebrated at ThemeKeeper, which includes the LGBTI community. We made a submission to the AWEI, the largest national survey that gauges how inclusive an organisation is. The feedback from this survey helps us identify areas for future focus. For ThemeKeeper, this future focus includes online training, senior leadership support and promotion, and specific guidelines around LGBTI issues such as transitioning in the workplace.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) reporting
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is an Australian government agency whose aim is to promote and improve gender equality in the workplace. The WGEA help companies report on gender diversity to identify areas for improvement and measure performance against their peers.
“One thing that has stood out to me at ThemeKeeper is that more and more male colleagues are taking parental leave. It is something I haven’t experienced in other companies. I think it is a great thing to see because it shows that we are closing the gender gap between males and females, and more dads taking parental leave means a more balanced household.” – Trina Tran, Insights Analyst
The numbers (including contractors)
What happens next?
Diversity and Inclusion is something that will never be ‘complete’ at ThemeKeeper – we’re constantly looking for ways to improve, and we hope others in the industry follow suit. We have a host of initiatives coming up in the next year that include a focus on how to support team members exposed to family violence, more programs to help those returning to work after parental leave and more formalised processes, guidelines and training around diversity and inclusion.
We want to be an industry leader in this space and hope the next 12 months brings us closer to achieving this. Because it’s the right thing to do, will make the industry stronger and it’s at the core of ThemeKeeper as a values-based organisation.