Ideas

Diversity in the Tech Industry in 2016

Embracing differences and individuality within our workplace.

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What is diversity & inclusion, and why does it matter?

Diversity and Inclusion at Envato means being comfortable with and embracing differences and individuality within our workplace. It means being respectful and supporting of the needs and perspectives of everyone in the Envato community.

Diversity is a big topic in the tech industry, but it’s not a token phrase that we throw around. Focusing on diversity means that, as a company, we make better decisions, and are stronger and happier together. We know that it’s our responsibility and privilege to create an environment where talented, value-driven people thrive.

“Diversity is about giving everyone a fair go. Having diverse teams where people have the freedom and support to be themselves is better for everyone, it boosts creativity, increases innovation and, simply, makes the workplace a more interesting and fun place to be.”

– Elizabeth Enders, Talent Acquisition at Envato

In 2014, we were the first Australian start-up company to release our gender diversity figures. Two years later, we’re asking ourselves: what progress has been made?

At Envato's HQ in Melbourne, Australia.
At Envato’s HQ in Melbourne, Australia.

The short answer: we still have some work to do. We’re proud of all the work we’ve put in, and the new initiatives we’ve focused on, in our efforts to make Envato a more inclusive and diverse workplace. However, our numbers don’t reflect this progress at the rate that we were hoping to achieve. Here’s what the numbers look like this year:

diversity-without-contractors

These numbers reflect all full-time employees at Envato. As a total, 30% of our employees identify as female, and over a quarter (26%) of our leadership positions are held by women.

In 2014, 29% of our overall workforce was female, and 28% of our leadership roles were held by females. This means that we’ve seen a 1-2% increase over the past two years in these categories. We have also seen an increase in tech roles held by women, which is 11% this year (up from 7% in 2014).

These numbers shift slightly if we include contract positions within Envato:

diversity-with-contractors

A little bit about how this data was compiled:

  • The overall category refers to all employees and contractors at Envato. This year, we made the decision to include contractors in our numbers. We have contractors and remote employees around the world who contribute to the products and services of Envato. The decision to include everyone in this year’s survey results (and all future results) was an easy choice.
  • Tech refers to any technical role. Examples of this include Software Developer, Front End Developer, Service Desk Specialist, Data Warehouse Specialist.
  • Non-tech refers to any non-technical roles at Envato, such as Accounts Payable, Editor, Marketing Specialist, Recruitment Coordinator.

Where does diversity stand in the tech industry today?

We wanted to see what challenges our peers have been facing. 2014 was a big year for releasing diversity figure in the tech industry, and so we looked to see what progress others had made.

It’s a complex issue for everyone

The big players in the industry have discussed their struggles with shifting the dial too. For example, Google stated in July 2016 that white males continue to dominate their technology team landscape, with just a 1% shift on their previous year’s figures. Similarly, LinkedIn has faced challenges, as outlined in their diversity report this year.

We can only move this conversation forward and make real progress if we approaching our diversity figures with honesty and transparency. (See: value #3). We wish that we could report a positive trend towards gender parity in our workplace, but the reality is that we still have a long way to go from here. So, how do we make real progress, and enact a significant shift in the industry? According to a recent study, women are more than twice as likely as men to quit the tech industry, with the top reason being a concern for lack of advancement opportunity. Is it a pipeline problem, or a culture issue – or both?

Diversity initiatives are important for moving the tech community forward, but to enact significant changes, companies need to approach it as more than just a PR piece or an industry trend. “I strongly believe that a lot of companies get on the bandwagon of diversity seeing it as a fruitful marketing effort,” says Karolina Szczur, a front-end developer at Envato. “A lot of these organisations treat diversity as a game in numbers rather than actually discovering and understanding what it means to be inclusive, which is far more important than altering the statistics.”

Talent pipelines and mentorship programs

Some companies, like Intuit, are creating a ‘talent pipeline’ for senior roles. Mentorship programs are being put into place, with mixed reviews and mixed results. Women are applying ideas like shine theory to meeting rooms to to make sure that they get credit for their ideas – instead of having the men in the room repeat their ideas and claim them (intentionally or unintentionally) as their own. Top companies are signing pledges to invest in strategies that move diversity forward in tech, and it’s the spotlight for industry conferences and events – such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology, the largest gathering of women in tech in the world.

Going beyond the workplace

The issue of diversity in tech extends beyond the walls of the office. From hackathons and events to co-working spaces, the industry is overwhelming male-dominated (and sometimes, even inclusive only to men, as well, like this coworking space created exclusively for men in November 2016). “Women, as a group, could use a leg-up in our industry,” says Pete Yandell, a lead architect at Envato. “Men, as a group, already have one… I would love to get to a world where nobody is excluded from tech because of gender, race, or anything else that should be irrelevant. But to get there from where we are now, I reckon we’ve got to give some extra help to the groups that are excluded.”

2014-2016 at Envato: a retrospective

Envato is a values-based organization, and over the past two years, we have been actively sustaining and increasing our focus on Diversity & Inclusion.

envato-values

We take our values seriously, and use them as a sense-check for all of our business decisions and ideas. The last value – diverse and inclusive – wasn’t always one of the ones on our original list; it was added in 2015. Although the ideas behind diversity and inclusion were always present in our organization and culture, making this official shift means explicitly stating it as a focus in our values as a company.

Similarly, this year we added Diversity and Inclusion Specialist as an official role within our HR team. Again, diversity and inclusion has always been always a priority for our HR team, but creating a dedicated position within Envato for this is a step in the right direction towards making it a focus in the workplace.

“Diversity (in our hiring) means proper, balanced representation of our community in the people that serve it. If we hope to build and support products that help our community earn a living, doing what they love, then we need to be a group of people that is as diverse as they are, reflecting the cultures, genders, orientations, religions, ages, all of it, that exist amongst our authors and customers. Only then can we say that we are truly considering their point of view.”

– Adrian Fittolani, General Manager, Content Group at Envato

We are now a fully flex workplace. This means that our employees can work anytime, anywhere. We don’t think that our employees should have to choose between a career they’re passionate about, and the things that are important to them outside of the workplace – which is why our flexible workplace is critical to our plan. Our intention is to give our employees the flexibility to do all the things that are important to them.

Last year, we were named coolest tech company for women. We participated in the Australian Workplace Equality Index, and we’ve held a number of events and talks around diversity in the workplace.

These are all positive attempts to move us in the right direction, but the reality is that fixing the issues of diversity in the tech industry is more complex than simply creating new positions, holding events, or hiring more women – it’s a complicated, systematic issue that speaks to broader challenges within the tech and startup industry.

A hackathon at Envato, November 2016.
A hackathon at Envato, November 2016.

Looking forward

Looking ahead, we are optimistic, energised, and motivated to work even harder to achieve our goals. We know if we continue to do things the same way, we can expect the same results.

Here’s a few new initiatives we’re working on this year:

  • Launching the first Female Developer Apprentice Program
  • Hosting meetups for working parents
  • Delivering a successful year one Mental Health Programme
  • Capturing more data on things like internal promotions for women
  • Further supporting Envato groups like LGBTI ‘Out @ Envato’

Achieving gender parity is a long-term goal, and is only one piece of the broader Diversity and Inclusion focus at Envato. There’s still a long way to go for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, but we hope that our continued efforts, and new initiatives, will bring change not only to our workplace, but across the tech industry.

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P.S., Do you have thoughts to share about diversity in the tech industry? Learn more about writing for the Envato blog.


Abbie Burgess

About the Author Abbie Burgess

Abbie is the Diversity & Inclusion specialist at Envato.

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you Abbie.

    I too believe that diversity is not something easy to tackle since there is a far greater cause of it than just companies not hiring women or women paid unfairly.

    Countries and Education Systems around the world are also to blame. An education system that pushes women to theoretical practices whether they like it or not when they were not given a fair chance to learn or explore other areas and countries that have rooted in their tradition that women should always follow a certain path.

    Unfortunately, more will follow to the “Diversity Rules” bandwagon for Marketing purposes but all that matters is that slowly more that actually believe in it will also jump in.

    I think that the tech industry is making a real difference and that more industries should follow.

    Keep up the good work!