Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
REA Group Limited
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
REA Group (ASX:REA) is a digital advertising company that operates Australia’s leading property websites and real estate websites in Australia, Asia and the US. With 1,500 employees across the globe, our technology community represents circa. 400 employees.
A cross functional working group was established with representation from across the REA Group internal technology community, people & culture, marketing & communications. The following people have been responsible for bringing the program to life and launching it successfully, internally and externally:
- Ali Wood
- Bree Dickson
- Kate Scrim
- Lucy Murray
- Nicole Dunn
- Shannon Rowe
- Sonia McVeigh
- Alana Shepherd
- Irene Chan
- Louise Alphonso
- Rachael Bhadury
- Lucy Beresford
- Ruth Young
- Craig Templeton
- Olga Goloshchapova
- Stacy Sterling
- Tammy Tantschev
- Tomas Varsavsky
- Vanessa D'Souza
- Erinn Nash
- Vidya Narasimhan
- Anna Fiofilova
- Stacey Fernandes
- Nathan Reeves
- Stefan Casperz
- Adam Richmond
- Simon Hedt
Senior HR Business Partner
Program Manager - Technology Community
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Late last year, a team of passionate people from across the REA Group business got together to re-imagine our approach to diversity in technology. Their challenge: how to address a serious imbalance whereby women make up half the population yet fill fewer than one in five tech jobs.
After all, we know diverse teams are smarter, more innovative, make better decisions and build better products. But to build more diverse teams, we need to encourage more women to consider a technology career.
For the last 3 years , women in technology represented 19% of the total REA technology community. We had taken some steps to enable greater diversity and inclusion at REA, however there was an appetite to take proactive action to improve the current gender representation in technology at all levels.
The objectives of the program therefore were to:
- Increase participation of women in technology at REA
- Retain and engage women in technology at REA
- Accelerate progression of women to senior technology positions at REA
The program contains three distinct strands:
- Springboard to Tech has been established to enable more women moving into technology roles.
- An Accelerated Leadership Program has helped emerging leaders develop their leadership skills, and the
- Women in Technology Mentoring Program supports career development, including helping people develop greater self-confidence.
How would you say diversity is embraced within your organisation or sector? Are there diversity initiatives in place or are diversity approaches new to your sector?
The technology community are taking bold steps to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords at REA Group. They are essential ingredients to the success of our business. The Women in Technology Program is another example of how we’re determined to foster an environment where everybody matters.
REA's Women in Technology Program differs to other industry programs as it not only creates pathways into technology for women, but it also removes barriers to enable all women to thrive at work.
One of REA's values is "Keep it Real". We don't expect anyone to fit a certain mould - we accept everyone for who they are, quirks and all. REA strives to be a welcoming, inclusive, flexible and diverse workplace for everyone.
Some of the diversity and inclusion initiatives delivered at REA Group over the last two years include:
Our people have told us that spending time with their children in their earliest months is important to them, and we know, particularly for women, having children can be a challenge when balancing their career aspirations. Equally, we want to provide opportunities for men to play a greater role in the early stages of their children’s lives. That is why in 2016 we launched our industry-leading, gender neutral parental leave offering:
- Six months leave at full pay for the primary carer (20 weeks paid at the commencement of leave, 6 weeks paid on the return to work)
- Three months paid leave for the secondary carer (6 weeks at full pay, 6 weeks at half pay)
- Superannuation paid for the entire period of leave (paid and unpaid) up to 12 months
- Flexible return to work for four weeks at 75% of agreed work hours, but at full pay.
We recently launched a formal Flexible Working Policy. This sets the standard that it’s always okay to have a conversation about working flexibly and it’s not just for parents. We recognise that there are different ways of working - People have lives outside of work and we want to support them where we can.
REA has been recognised externally as a White Ribbon workplace (through White Ribbon Accreditation), by making changes to foster a culture of equity, anti-violence and mutual respect for all our people. We’ve introduced guidelines to support staff who may be victims of domestic violence and we’ve introduced a sensitivity training program to help people managers recognise and act when someone may be in a violent relationship. We’ve encouraged each other to challenge gender stereotypes for both men and women, and promoted respectful language via our Language Matters campaign. It shone the light on why the language we use matters and how it is linked to gender inequality (see video attachment).
We've invested in our senior leaders through unconscious bias training and removed gendered language from our job ads.
REA's diversity and inclusion networks include: Spectrums of Equality, a network that enables people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (as well as their friends!) to come together to share information, support each other and to ensure we maintain a comfortable and fully inclusive environment in which we can each reach our full potential at REA. Our Girlapalooza network enables women in digital (as well as their friends!) to come together to share information, offer support and connect as a community.
This year we launched an internal 6 month campaign: "You're my kind. Because you're kind" - to foster a culture of kindness and empathy. Connections matter at REA. We want to create a sense of belonging for all; where unique differences are appreciated and respected. So it’s important that we truly live and breathe our values, in every interaction that we have. You’re My Kind. Because You’re Kind focuses on increasing awareness around the subtle behaviours and commentary in everyday interactions that can actually have a significant impact on each and every one of us. It encourages us to stand up, take action and call out the behaviours that don’t feel quite right.
DevOps Girls Community Program
DevOpsGirls started 2 years ago with a bunch of enthusiastic REA people who wanted to make a difference in diversity in Tech, particularly with women who are interested in DevOps. After running two highly engaging bootcamps we realised that to scale the initiative we needed to broaden the reach outside of REA. With the great response we have had from the industry DevOpsGirls has become a part of DevOpsAustralia, with ongoing sponsorship from REA.
The breadth of diversity and inclusion initiatives have removed a lot of the barriers that women have traditionally faced when navigating a technology career. REA strives to to be "the place" for women in technology.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
The women in technology initiatives were sponsored by Tracey Fellows, REA Group CEO and Tomas Varsavsky, REA Group's Chief Engineer who leads the technology community. We also had support from the broader IT Leadership Team.
A cross functional working group was established with representation from both women and men in technology at all levels, people and culture, marketing and communications. The cross functional group co-designed the 3 strands:
- The Springboard to Tech Program
- The Mentor Program
- The Accelerated Leadership Program
The Springboard to Tech Program is a paid apprenticeship and scholarship (for those with no prior tech experience), open to women who are either new to the technology industry, are considering a career change to technology or have taken a career break and are keen to return. The objective was to create pathways for women to enter or re-enter a career in technology.
We have incubated 5 roles with the sole purpose of investing in 5 women to enable them to develop technology skills as a developer or systems engineer.
We have removed the barriers to entry by enabling flexible working, paying a full market competitive salary from entry to the program, and for those new to tech, we have paid for them to attend the 3 month General Assembly Bootcamp to learn software development. The women learn on the job supported by a their direct leader, a mentor and the squad leader with a personalised development plan. They are surrounded with support to ensure that they have the best opportunity to succeed.
The Accelerated Leadership Program has helped 7 emerging women in technology leaders develop their commercial acumen and leadership skills to prepare them for their next career move. The program ran for 6 months and consisted of six executive coaching sessions (1:1) and six group sessions with the executive coach and some of the REA Executive Team. Through the group sessions they developed skills such as building their personal brand, understanding company strategy, understanding the financials of the business and developing their confidence. The 1:1 coaching sessions were tailored to the individual's personal development and career needs. The cohort also developed a shared sense of community and support through the experience.
The mentoring program supports personal and career development, including to help our women in technology develop greater self-confidence and a feeling of inclusion at REA. All women in technology are invited to participate in the program. REA offers training and support for the Mentors and for those being mentored to set everyone up for success.
The Women in Technology program is complemented by all REA's diversity and inclusion initiatives including parental leave, flexible working, diversity and inclusion networks and community initiatives, leadership development, white ribbon accreditation and cultural inclusion education and campaigns such as "Your language matters" and "You're my kind. Because you're kind".
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
REA has invested in diversity and inclusion initiatives for many years.
They showed leadership by recognising that they needed to do something different, specifically for women in technology, in order to get a different result.
REA has taken destiny into their own hands by creating pathways for women to enter and/or re-enter a technology career and/or advance their technology careers. We've removed barriers for women at work with programs such as our gender neutral parental leave, flexible work practices and fostering an environment of inclusion where everyone matters.
The program was developed late in 2017 and officially launched by REA Group's CEO, Tracey Fellows in February 2018. It has the sponsorship and support of the REA Executive Leadership Team, especially from Tomas Varsarvsky, REA Group's Chief Engineer.
The program has already resulted in behavioural change across teams by surfacing gender diversity as a priority for REA. Over the last 6 months REA has experienced greater representation of women in technology from 19% to 25.9% and engaged in open discussion company wide to educate everyone on the initiatives.
REA is committed to leading the change for women in technology, by increasing and sustaining gender representation at all levels.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
Committment to diversity and inclusion is not a new concept at REA and therefore these was an openness to, and support for, the women in technology program from the outset.
That being said, we recognised that our women in technology participating in the program had experienced a personal change that we wanted to support and reinforce. To help sustain the benefits of the changes, we engaged the Executive Coach that delivered the Accelerated Leadership Program to run both group sessions and 1:1 sessions with the senior technology leaders to develop the mindset to reinforce and support the changes.
We also hosted an "Ask me Anything" session with the entire company to discuss diversity and inclusion in technology. No topic was off limits, which encouraged people to discuss the changes in an open and constructive manner. The conversations continue on a slack channel #women-in-tech and are supported with information available on our REA internal community page.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initiative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
The investment in the program will be ongoing and we have committed beyond this fiscal year. We have committed to 5 Springboard-to-tech positions once the current cohort meet their development goals and transition from associate to either Developer or Systems Engineer roles at REA. We have committed to another Accelerated Leadership Development program in 2019 and the investment in the mentor program will continue.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
Celica Rowley, Associate Systems Engineer at REA Group. Celica was one of the first participants in the Springboard to Tech Program. Having taken a career break to raise her family, we're investing in Celica to transition her back to work in tech. Celica featured in a newspaper article when the program was launched in Feb 2018. She can share her insights with you with four months experience in the role.
Mobile: +61 488737372
Olga Goloshchapova, Technical Lead at REA Group. Olga was one of the first participants in the Accelerated Leadership Program. She has been promoted to a more senior role since leaving the program.
Mobile: +61 433642774
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
At REA we believe a workforce with a diversity of ideas and experiences is more creative, more effective and fuels disruptive thinking. Diversity is particularly important in our business because our products and services must engage consumers in every market and sector and because we are a truly global company operating in Australia, Asia and North America.
We aim to recruit talented people from all backgrounds and provide inspiring and inclusive workplaces where they can and will thrive.
With proactive action, the representation of women in technology has increased from 19% in December 2017 (when the Women in Technology Program was launched) to 25.9% in June 2018. This represents a 6.9 point increase in the last 6 months.
You can read about Celica Rowley's experience on the Springboard-to-tech program here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/rea-steps-up-to-help-women-returning-to-the-workforce-fill-the-skills-vacuum/news-story/f02fd00ffdc62525b9711c96b9656db8
We recently had a senior female Tech Lead successfully apply at REA having read the article by Celica Rowley in the Australian. This demonstrates that the program is attracting female technology talent.
Of the 7 women who commenced the accelerated leadership program in January 2018, one has been promoted to a more senior technical leadership position and all have taken proactive action to grow their careers. They've cited increased confidence, greater commercial awareness and acumen as outcomes of the program. They have also valued the sense of community and inclusion that they have experienced.
Technology teams are striving to address gender representation by making conscious efforts to take proactive action when hiring new positions at REA. The program has normalised gender diversity as a priority at REA.
In the May 2018 REA Group Employee Engagement Survey:
- 95% of the circa ~ 400 employees that represent the REA Technology Community agreed that REA invests in creating a diverse and inclusive culture.
- 93% of the REA Technology Community agree that their manager is creating a diverse and inclusive working environment.
- 89% agree that they are comfortable to be themselves at REA Group
- 92% of the women in the REA Technology Community are engaged.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
The Women in Technology Program has put the issue of gender diversity in the spotlight without putting individuals in the spotlight. The program has normalised gender diversity as a priority at REA.
The program has created a greater sense of inclusion and community across the REA women in technology community resulting in greater confidence and engagement.
We recently hired an external female Senior Technical Lead at REA, who approached us having read the article about Celica Rowley in the Australian Newspaper. This hire demonstrates that internal programs such as these attract highly talented women to REA.
REA hiring managers are now striving to address gender representation in their teams by making conscious decisions to take proactive action when hiring new technology positions at REA. Together with the program, this has resulted in a significant increase in representation of women in technology at REA in the last 6 months.
The education and internal campaigns to promote an inclusive culture have increased people's awareness at work and given them the permission to call out behaviours respectfully that are not inclusive. The positive results are showing through the engagement survey.
It's demonstrated that with proactive action, behaviours can change and results can be achieved. This has created an appetite to pro actively address other diversity minority areas at REA.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
The global technology community is having an impact broader than their own companies to address gender under representation in technology. We're inspired by the women in technology programs at companies such as MYOB, Envato and NAB. Their investment in diversity initiatives is commendable and delivering results for the greater good of society.