The long-term benefits of technological diversity products and organization

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The technical brothers are not known for their embrace of diversity. The software industry in particular is notorious for its culture of sexism and white monoculturalism. The rot, so to speak, has been causing problems across the industry for years, from sexual harassment lawsuits to code bias.

With diversity hiring seen as a “major trend” in HR for 2022 and job openings plentiful, now might be a good time to reconsider your hiring policies and talent metrics to fill those gaps. , improve your company’s diversity metrics, employee satisfaction, and long-term. retention.

Ali Wood is a Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist who works to ensure a scalable, diverse and forward-looking technology community within the REA Group.

The Group has made a lot of effort over the past five years or so to build a solid diversity and inclusion policy. Ms. Wood says much of this work began under former executive director Tracey Fellows.

REA formed a program called Springboard to Tech in 2018 to try to address the gender disparity in their workforce.

Ali Wood and Rob Cumming of REA

The program consists of a 12-month paid placement with on-the-job and formal training and mentorship and is designed to inspire women to transition into a technical career or re-enter the workforce after taking time to raise children.

“We also had a group of executives at the time who were incredibly passionate about gender equity,” Ms. Wood told InnovationAus.

“It’s really encouraged and challenged us as a business to start thinking about this from a different perspective. Not just through the lens of social sustainability – yes, it’s the right thing to do – but through the prism of “it will actually be a source of competitive advantage for us in the long run if we can do it well”.

Research shows (and has shown for some time now) that diversity is not just about “doing the right thing”; there are clear and proven business benefits.

“I came to REA as a leader,” added Rob Cumming, Information Security Manager at REA Group. “We have built-in programs that help support our leaders in inclusive thinking. I think it really comes from the top down.

Mr. Cumming said having a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion from leaders instills a culture in the rest of the organization that values ​​those attributes.

He said focusing on truly getting to know individual employees, “learning from failure” and more generally just “adding vulnerability to the culture” are all things that can help break that typical “bro” culture if commonly associated with the sector.

Ms Wood agreed, but said training, support and coaching are only part of the picture. “Yeah, it’s about equipping leaders with the skills they need to have really good conversations and create that safety within teams,” she explained.

“But it’s all the other pieces that you put in place as an organization that mean there’s this psychological safety in place for people to raise questions, discuss these things that are maybe sometimes uncomfortable. “

By this she means a space not only to learn the skills, but also to practice those skills in real workplace interactions, noticing what works and what could have been done better.

In this way, creating a safer and more inclusive workspace can take time and rehearsal, but when everyone is included in the process, it can be done effectively.

Ms Wood said the company renewed its efforts to promote the Springboard program this year and received an overwhelming response.

“I think we had 220 or 230 applicants, which is a huge increase from what we had in previous years,” she said. “And that has allowed us to place more women in the program this year and to diversify the types of women that we bring into this program as well.”

And diversity isn’t just about gender, of course. The program is just one example of efforts to attract talent from diverse cultural, socio-economic and entrepreneurial backgrounds. “The more prospects you get, the better the quality of the product,” Mr. Cumming said.

“For example, we had someone who was previously a mortgage broker on our team. REA recently purchased Mortgage Choice. There you have someone who is sensitive to how this business is done and who is really helpful.

“Particularly in my team, where we integrate a lot of security products and tools into new businesses that we buy or into other parts of the business, empathizing with those teams and understanding their products. and what they build.

“And being able to get this improvement in security, in maturity through REA, through those kinds of collaborative conversations, really, really helps my team achieve our goal, which is to improve the security maturity of our REA. “

TechDiversity is a member of the Editorial Board of InnovationAus.com.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

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