Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia and Coder Academy
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Kristy Kelly - Leadership, Diversity, Wellbeing and OE Manager, Organisational Effectiveness, Vodafone
Natalie Moore - HR consultant - Diversity and Inclusion, Vodafone
Sally Browner - General Manager, Coder Academy
HR Consultant - Leadership
Leadership, Diversity, Wellbeing & OE Manager
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Research suggests that girls as young as 7 years old begin to “opt out” of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. We understand that this occurs for a number of reasons including a lack of female role models, peer pressure and a general misconception that discounts the broad and exciting range of STEM careers that exist. At Vodafone, we recognise that we can have a significant impact on shifting misconceptions around STEM careers and drive greater diversity within the technology industry by providing young girls and women with access to inspiring female role models and increasing educational opportunities in STEM areas.
To expand the reach of our diversity and inclusion focus into the community, in 2017 we launched our inaugural Code Next program. Code Next is a program that supports teachers and students with coding education and access to female role models in Technology to build their knowledge and confidence in STEM. Created in partnership with Coder Academy, Code Next was launched to address the current gaps in STEM education within the NSW public school curriculum and aimed to create a sustainable platform of learning and development for the students. The program was piloted in Term 4 of the school year and supported the education of 60 female high school students across three high schools in Sydney. The program will be continued and expanded in late 2018.
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?
Diversity and Inclusion is a strategic focus area for our organisation and our people are proud of the work that we do in these areas. While Code Next is an example of our focus on extending our reach to create greater diversity and inclusion within the STEM industry, Vodafone also has a number of other initiatives that support this aim. Other initiatives that form part of our Diversity and Inclusion strategy are summarised below;
CodeHER and Coding Kids
Launched in 2017, CodeHER (female only audience) and Coding Kids (gender inclusive audience) are events aimed at providing the primary school-aged children of Vodafone parents with the opportunity to engage in a 1 day session of fun and interactive STEM activities. Activities include exposure to coding, app development, robotics and virtual reality. Held onsite at our Sydney office during the school holidays, these events also allow parents to share their work day with their children and also help support parents with their caring responsibilities during the holiday period. In 2018 we expanded these initiatives to include our Hobart and Melbourne state offices.
Designed to address the gap between parents’ STEM skills and the developing skills of their children through initiatives such as CodeHER and Coding Kids, we launched Code-U in late 2017. Code-U are “lunch and learn” sessions held onsite whereby a Coder Academy educator provides our employees with hands-on experience of coding, electricity (coding circuits), robotics and app development. This program aims to provide parents with skills that they are able to share with their children. We will again be holding several Code-U sessions throughout 2018.
Connect, Code & Create
Held in partnership with Coder Academy, Connect, Code & Create is a fun and inspiring industry event that aims to bring women interested in the STEM space (both internal to Vodafone and externally) together to network and collaborate, while exploring the latest technology. A hands-on and interactive event, attendee’s at our 2017 event also had the opportunity to hear from inspiring keynote speaker, Roisin Parks CTO of Gumtree Australia, about working and innovatively in the technology space. We will look to again hold Connect, Code & Create in the latter part of 2018.
We have also recently launched our Connected We Can Network which is another exciting step on our journey towards accelerating diversity and inclusion at Vodafone. Connected We Can is a dedicated employee group focused on furthering gender equality through four key strategic pillars. One of these pillars is specifically focused on Women in STEM and will look to further progress our initiatives in this space.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
After working with Coder Academy to articulate our aims for the Code Next program, we identified the three local high schools that we would be working with for our inaugural program. It was decided that the initial program would support sixty female students from Chatswood High, Mosman High and North Sydney Girls High School to participate. To ensure that the program was sustainable, the first critical phase was to provide several teachers from each school with the opportunity to undergo fully-funded training so that they were able to provide additional support to their students going through Code Next. The training of the teachers also ensured that the running of the sessions would continue post the program and that they were equipped to teach additional students that may not have had the opportunity to participate in Code Next.
Coder Academy educators then visited each school throughout Term 4 and began running the program in a series of hands-on workshops. The program supported the student’s learning of the fundamentals of HTML + CSS, how to design and build a static website and use Ruby (a programming language to stimulate computational thinking). Students worked in agile teams to apply these skills to solve a real problem that was then built into a functioning web application. The students were encouraged to use STEM to solve “problems” within their school and the student’s ideas included solutions to canteen lines, lost property and timetabling of subjects. To provide the students with “real life” positive role models working in STEM, Vodafone employees acted as mentors to the students and visited the schools to share learnings and provide them practical insights into their roles. Throughout the program the students also went on excursions to visit other technology companies to demonstrate the broad range of exciting careers that exist in the STEM field. At the conclusion of the program, the students were invited to attend a celebratory graduation ceremony at Vodafone Central and heard an inspiring keynote speech from two advancing scientists from The Garvan Insitutute on their career in STEM. The students were then invited to present their app solutions to Vodafone’s CEO, Inaki Berroeta, our Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Milroy, and members of our Women in Technology working group.
Coder Academy’s General Manager, Sally Browner, said the Code Next program was designed with young women in mind and is centred on challenging, engaging and encouraging students’ creativity. “Girls need to be able to experience what the modern workplace feels like, the plethora of careers in STEM available to them and to meet people who they aspire to become,” she said. “I meet students from all types of schools and the most effective programs are those that build their confidence to solve problems with technology as well as showing them how those skills can be applied in the workplace.”
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
At Vodafone we aim to create an environment where all of our employees feel supported to be and proud to work for us. We additionally strive to harness everyone’s unique potential to create a diverse organisation where our employees are able to be themselves and belong. Gender diversity (and more broadly Women in STEM) is a key strategic priority for our Executive team, people leaders and our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team within HR. Gender equality is something we are very committed to as an organisation and it is embraced through sharing stories via our internal communications platform, internal newsletters, and company celebrations. This continuously ensure diversity is front of mind and is driven as a strategic focus by the wider business.
As mentioned above, as part of our Code Next program, our CEO Inaki Berrota, and CTO Kevin Milroy hosted our Code Next graduation ceremony, and were kept informed of the progress of the program. Alongside their involvement in Code Next, both Inaki and Kevin have attended our CodeHER and Coding Kids days and look forward to speaking to parents at the conclusion of these events as well as providing certificates to the children to celebrate their success.
Gender diversity is something we have maintained a deliberate focus on for 2017- 2018, which was enhanced by our Accelerate Conference in March 2018. The inaugural Accelerate Conference was a dedicated leadership conference for our top female talent, focused on how Vodafone could support the acceleration of gender equity. The Accelerate Conference was designed off of feedback from each of our business functions and included a strong focus on driving change through leadership. Our entire Executive team demonstrated their commitment to diversity at the conference, indicating its importance as a strategic priority. The Executive team also participated in an insightful and transparent panel session at the Conference in which they answered a host of questions from our female audience. As a result of the momentum created from the Accelerate Conference, as mentioned, we have recently launched our Connected We Can Network and look to use it as a grassroots vehicle for driving greater change in this area. This employee-led group consists of a representative employees from all functions and levels within the business and will focus on four strategic areas: Career Empowerment, Flexibility, Women in STEM and Best Practice. Upon launching our Connected We Can Network, we received over 100 expressions of interest from employees wanting to be involved, with a diverse representation of gender, level and business area. With a strong focus on Women in STEM, this working group will continue to find unique solutions to bridge the gap of female representation in STEM. In particular, the Women in STEM group will broaden the work of our it’s predecessor, our Women in Technology (WiT) working group, and will continue our existing relationships with universities to support the mentoring of female students in the UTS Lucy Program, participating in university open days and industry events, and continue our internal mentoring program for females that join our Technology team.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
Fortunately, given the strong support we have for diversity and inclusion at Vodafone, we have not encountered any resistance in launching our Code Next program. We are however very cognisant that, despite our initiatives in this space, there is still a significant gap in the representation of women in STEM within our industry and Australia at large. At this point in our journey, we are relentless in our focus to support our internal talent to progress into a STEM career and build on their confidence and capability whilst also extending our reach to younger generations within the community. It is our hope that through these initiatives we will have an impact on the long term pipelines of females engaging in STEM and we will have a positive impact on making the workforce more equitable and inclusive.
It is with sadness that we acknowledge that even with the amount of focus on the education of young girls in STEM and the skills needed for the future of work, young girls are still turning away from STEM due to a lack of support, role models and focus in schools. We hope to continue to grow our Code Next program specifically, as it will ensure these skills are embedded into school programs that may not have the means to run a STEM program internally. Additionally, with our partnership, young girls are able to access positive female role models. We hope that through this access to role models, participants of Code Next will be inspired by the vast opportunities that a career in STEM can offer.
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?
We have received a tremendous amount of support for all of our initiatives in the STEM space and we have committed to an ongoing partnership with Coder Academy to continue to bring these initiatives to life. As a result of the success of each of our initiatives, we will be looking to continue and, where possible, increase our reach with these initiatives including how we can broaden their impact across our Retail, Care and Corporate sites that are geographically dispersed.
In the latter half of this year we will be conducting a second iteration of the Code Next program with three new schools. We are also committed to continuing on our journey to bridge the gap between women in STEM and will also be looking to continue our support of the first cohort of Code Next participants. To support this first cohort, we will expanding our scope and will be collaborating with another Technology company to host a sponsored “Hackathon” in Term 4. The Hackathon will bring together high school students, industry professionals and representatives from our partner charities to use technology to problem solve real life challenges that these charities are facing.
Additionally, we will be again extending our CodeHER, Coding Kids, Code-U and Connect, Code & Create initiatives in 2018. We have already begun the expansion of these programs and have extended our Coding Kids initiative from Sydney-based to include an event at both our Hobart and Melbourne offices which was very positively received.
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.
- Name – Sally Browner
- Organisation – Coder Academy
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone number - 0410592050
- Role – General Manager Coder Academy
- Coder Academy were delighted to partner with Vodafone to help create the Code Next program. Coder Academy are passionate about improving diversity in the technology sector and strongly believe that young people need to be shown the opportunities in this space as early as possible. Vodafone wanted to inspire girls to see the power of coding. Coder Academy designed a Web App Development Program for girls in Years 7-10 based on HTML, CSS and Ruby on Rails. The students from 3 state high schools worked through the design thinking process and worked in teams to determine a key problem they wanted to solve. The students worked collaboratively to design and build their web applications over a 10 week school term, which were presented to the CEO and CTO of Vodafone Australia. The students were also taken on tours of technology companies where they met with women employed in a variety of careers either directly or indirectly involving coding. The feedback from the students was that they felt empowered by learning how to develop their own web application. They commented that their eyes were opened to the huge number of new careers opening up to them and they were inspired to pursue a career in STEM. Code Next is an important initiative to provide critical skills and real world insights to students who would not otherwise have had access to them. The Code Next program is going to be rolled out into more lower socio economic schools in order to further drive diversity and equality.
- Name – Maria Quinlan
- Organisation – Vodafone Hutchison Australia
- Email – email@example.com
- Phone number -0414 164 998
- Role – Head of Commercial Strategy & Governance
- As a Vodafone mentor in the Code Next program, I had the opportunity to visit the students while they were engaged in the program and facilitate a mentoring session with them. I was thrilled to be able to share my career journey with the students and provide them with advice, particularly around the learnings that I have experienced through both the highlights and challenges of my professional life. As a female working in the technology space within Commercial Strategy and Governance, I was excited to provide the students with a glimpse into the varied and interesting ways that a STEM career can take shape - it’s not simply the stereotype of a computer programmer. I was also eager to understand the perspective of the students in how they felt about their future career and the steps that they were making to turn their ideas into a reality. I believe that Code Next provides students with a fantastic opportunity to further develop their capability and confidence with STEM in general at a time when all important subject choices for tertiary study are being made. Connecting industry professionals working in STEM and female students that are considering their future career is an important step to supporting more diversity within STEM professions. When I was a graduate engineer I appreciated hearing from inspirational female STEM professionals, and it was a pleasure to be able to close the circle and hopefully inspire a new generation of females to choose a career in STEM!
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?
In its inaugural year, Code Next provided sixty female high school students with the opportunity to build their capability and confidence in coding and app development and encouraged them to consider a career in STEM. In addition, we also supported fifteen teachers from our targeted schools to be sponsored through a dedicated program to enable them to sustainably support their student’s learning. With the announcement that we will be expanding the scope of the original Code Next cohort, and also inviting students from an additional three schools, to provide them with the opportunity to participate in a Hackathon in the latter part of this year, we are excited to be able to inspire and equip more young females into pursuing STEM. As mentioned, we will also be expanding our Code Next program to three new schools in Term 4 2018.
The effect that our Code Next program has had on the confidence and education of students and teachers involved in the program is encapsulated in the below quotes;
Testimonial by a student in year 10 from Mosman High School who participated in the program:
"It helped me learn so much about coding. It was fun working as a team to solve a problem at school. I would like to do more coding in school."
Testimonial by a teacher from Mosman high school:
"The Code Next program was a great way to introduce coding to the girls to solve a real world problem within the school. The girls really enjoyed the process of making their app and were very enthusiastic to work with the team from the Coder Academy and Vodafone. They also enjoyed their visit to Amazon Web Services, talking to the engineers and were inspired to work in the tech industry in the future."
Our Director of Human Resources, Vanessa Hicks, had this to say about Code Next:
“We are very proud of what we have been able to deliver with the Code Next Program. The program not only teaches students vital skills like coding, but also raises awareness and understanding amongst young women, teachers, and subsequently families and carers, about the myriad of opportunities within the STEM fields. We are so thankful for all the hard work put in by Coder Academy, our Vodafone mentors, and especially the students and teachers who have wholeheartedly embraced Code Next. We look forward to this year’s program!”
The positive effect that our many STEM-focused diversity initiatives have had on our employees’ engagement has been enormous and is evidenced in the below quotes:
Testimonial from a parent of a child that attended a CodeHER/Coding Kids day:
“I believe this type of initiative has furthered supported diversity in STEM industries as it is targeting to get young females involved, interacting and having fun with STEM at an early age which I believe is instrumental if we want to increase diversity in STEM industries, which are typically more male dominated. By targeting this interest at an early age should ensure that they continue to have an interest through to their teens and later, providing these type of initiatives continue.”
Testimonial from a parent of a child that attended a CodeHER/Coding Kids day:
“Yes. My child always wanted to come and visit my work place. It is a great pleasure for me to show him my organisation in such a way. Going out with my child was an excellent experience for me. Also, it was nice to see that kids got attention from our CEO. I personally want to thank Inaki for his great presence during the day.”
Testimonial from a Vodafone employee that attended one of our Code-U sessions:
"Thank you, I feel really lucky to have gotten in to this session, can't wait to show my kid - think this is a fantastic thing to do at work, I'm grateful to Vodafone for it."
Running in parallel to the aforementioned initiatives, we have also maintained a strategic focus on the recruitment and retention of females in Technology at Vodafone. Together with our STEM-focused D&I initiatives, we have also seen an uplift of 3% in the representation of females within our Technology function over 2016-18.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
All of the above outcomes are an incredible achievement for Vodafone and we are so proud to be working towards increasing diversity within STEM. Specifically, the amount of people we have been able to reach within a relatively short time is something that we are incredibly proud of. The feedback we have received from our employees and also the media interest that we have received as a result of initiatives like Coding Kids and Code Next assure us that these programs have the potential to impact many more young people and encourage them to consider an exciting and fulfilling career in STEM. Feedback from our Code Next participants has indicated that many students are now considering choosing STEM related subjects at school where they may not have previously and some students have gone on to enrol in external coding programs to further their knowledge during the school holidays.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
We are inspired by several people that we have had the pleasure of partnering and working with on our journey to accelerating gender equality. Individuals such as Jenine Beekhuyzen, Founder and CEO of the Tech Girls Movement, and Sally Browner, General Manager of Coder Academy, have been immeasurably helpful in providing us with guidance on the challenges that women face in STEM industries and have inspired us with their passion for championing change for future generations. Both Jenine and Sally have also significantly impacted the scope and direction of our initiatives through finding innovative ways to link industry and education to deliver better outcomes. Their enthusiasm and hope for the future is infectious and continues to inspire us each day.
We are also continually inspired by the passion and resolve of our employees in supporting these initiatives. Employees from across our business can be relied upon to act as “champions” of diversity and inclusion and will often be proactively seeking ways that we can extend our reach in these initiatives but also how they can support future generations through mentoring, teaching and advising young people on considering a career in STEM.