Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Collis Ta'eed (Co-founder and CEO)
Michelle Ridsdale (Chief People Officer)
James Ross (Chief Technology Officer)
Mario Visic (Developer Mentor)
Rebecca Covington (Organisational Development Consultant and D&I Officer)
PR & Communications Manager
Organisational Development Consultant
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Envato's in-house Apprentice Developer Program was created to tackle two unique problems facing the local tech sector. Firstly, as it is only open to female applicants, the program is very much focussed on lifting the diversity profile of not just Envato, but the entire local tech sector, ensuring more willing and capable female coders have a clearer pathway to entry into a highly skilled and technical job.
And second, because it provides for 12 months of intensive, on-the-job training, the program will helps address an industry-wide skill shortage, especially amongst developer roles, and as a result could improve the local talent pipeline accordingly.
So far we've graduated two successful apprentices, who have gone on to further full-time employment at Envato as Junior Developers, and we've commenced a second cohort earlier this year with two new apprentices. We're continuing to refine and expand the program curriculum and, lead by educator and developer Mario Visic, we're hopeful we can continue to graduate even more female developers in the coming months and years, engaging them in a career in engineering at Envato and encouraging women from all backgrounds to think about software development as a possible career path.
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 incredibly well embedded as a priority area for the business at Envato. It's called out clearly in our values and has been championed by staff at all levels of the business, from the CEO and Senior Leadership (Nav) team down. Day to day, this is personified by a Diversity and Inclusion Adviser who leads the review and implementation of our D&I Roadmap, providing for distinct programs of work across three key themes; gender diversity, mental health best-practice and LGBTQI support. Some of the distinct programs of work we undertake across the business in support of our priority themes include:
- LGBTQI Ally Awareness training,
- 'TEDVato' talks focussing on mental health and LGBTQI support,
- A partnership with Code Like A Girl, that involves quarterly women’s leadership and development workshops, a series of presentations and mentor and mentee opportunities,
- Submissions to the Australian Workplace Equality Index and Workplace Gender Equality Agency reporting,
- An external remuneration review across all levels of the business, and
- of course, this Apprentice Developer Program!
We believe our approach has helped lead the way for others in the local sector, and there is a strong sense of collaboration and partnership across many other local tech companies to work together to best tackle this problem.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
The purpose of the Apprentice Developer Program is to provide mentorship for female apprentice developers who are not yet ready to be Junior Developers at Envato. We understand that in order to meet the company's growth targets, we need to undertake an expansion of our sustainable hiring program, particularly as it relates to technical roles across the business. It makes sense to us as a business, per previous answers above, that we should be innovative in how we tackle this issue, especially as it provides us with an opportunity to undertake positive and impactful work in the D&I space.
The program is broken up into immersive-style learning, where apprentices will be pair programming with the mentor on real tasks given by the engineering teams at Envato, as well as classroom-style learning. The majority of time is spent in the immersive component as we currently believe it’s the best way to learn to produce real working production software in Envato’s team environment.
To ensure the program is successful we place expectations on both the mentor and each apprentice in the program. Mentors, led by Mario Visic, are expected to take on people management responsibilities for their apprentices, organise teams for the program to visit for immersive learning, provide constructive and fast feedback to each apprentice and ensure apprentices are always with an experienced developer for immersive learning. On the reverse, our apprentices are expected to take responsibility to progress their own learning, be responsive to feedback based on their performance and present their learnings and delivered work openly and transparently.
All of Envato's engineering teams enlisted their support for the program, providing a range of problems, from simple to complex. The mentor and the apprentices attend all of the rituals of each team such as, planning sessions, standups and retrospectives. The goal of the immersive aspect is as much about learning to plan and communicate with the team as well as writing and supporting the code produced. The apprentices and the mentor will stay with the same team for a minimum of two sprints (we define a sprint as a program of work completed over a fortnight); pair programming with each other and members of the team as appropriate.
The program does not run for a fixed period of time, and continues for an apprentice until the engineering teams at Envato are ready to take the apprentice onboard as a junior developer. In practice, this means that most apprentice developers will graduate from the program to become fully fledged members of the Envato Engineering team between 6 to 12 months, dependent on the starting level of experience and rate of learning of each apprentice.
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
We believe leadership for this program was demonstrated on two levels. Firstly, from the perspective of Mario Visic, the educational leader and primary mentor of this program, here is one of the company's most senior developers leading the charge to foster a positive diversity change across an area of the business he is intimately familiar with. Secondly, from the perspective of Envato's senior leadership (Nav) team, they have been clear in their vision for D&I practices at Envato, setting up an environment where staff such as Mario can identify an area of improvement and, with executive-level support, take active steps to trial and implement potential solutions.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
There was some minimal resistance inside the company towards the initiative. This was focussed on the legitimacy of 'using discrimination to fight discrimination', asking why the company chose gender to focus on with such a program, while also querying the legality of offering roles only to women. The company's approach to respond to this was to draw on the goals and tactics set out as part of the coordinated and planned approach Envato has put in place with its roadmap to meet its ambitious D&I goals. In having an existing document, endorsed by the executive team, the company was able to demonstrate that the program was in line with the strategy that was laid out as a holisitic approach to D&I at Envato. On top of this, the support of our award-winning in-house legal team was invaluable in helping to create a safe space for not just the program to be established, but for our Tell It Like It Is value to operate as well.
Also the program would not have been as successful as it has been without acknowledging that much of the resistance it does face in the industry more broadly is passive. Potential female developers often find that first step is hard to take, and opportunities hard to find, which was front of mind when we were first developing this program. It helped influence how we marketed the program, and in what forums, to ensure we reached our target audience as directly as possible.
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?
Following a successful trial in its first year, we've extended the program into a second year and another cohort of two apprentices. And given the response to the program so far, we have already commenced discussions about expanding the scope of what we can offer in the programs third year (2019) and beyond.
Not only this, but it's helped shine a light on other diversity areas that we may not had previously prioritised, but we may now be in a position to have a net positive impact on. One example of this is a possible connection with secondary schooling careers counsellors secondary school level, providing leadership and advice on how to help guide young women who want to embark on a career in tech.
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.
Sharon Vaughan and Jaime Gunther were inaugural graduates of the Apprentice Developer Program, who have since gone on to become full-time Junior Developers at Envato. Below are some of their thoughts on the program.
What motivated me to apply? Someone is dedicated, full-time, to train me to be a developer and I get to be part of the team at Envato!? That's a no brainer. Envato’s core mission and values were in-line with mine, so the company was on my radar, but I thought it’d take me a couple of years as a developer before I’d know enough (read ‘be brave enough’) to apply for a role. However, when the apprentice roles were advertised I realised this was an amazing unicorn I just had to try for.
I’ve been privileged enough to represent both women in tech and Envato across a number of settings over the last year. Inevitably at these events, I find myself offering advice to those trying to get into tech and/or Envato. It feels so rewarding, and gives me such a feeling of excitement, to wonder what adventure each person is about to embark on after our chat. I find this ‘pay it forward’ concept one of the most engaging characteristics of the developer world.
I’ve been impressed by the culture of Envato; the openness, trust and generosity of everyone from the Nav team and CEO onwards, and how much Envato is a genuine values driven company.
Being as new as I was to the industry, i wanted to make sure wherever I ended up that I was going to get solid mentoring, to help me progress and continue to learn. The apprentice program was a perfect fit for where I was at that stage in my career.
I am a person who learns best through doing and the great part of being an apprentice was that I was able to directly apply what I was learning in a real world setting. The problems we looked at were relevant to the team and company, and being a part of that and helping to achieve certain goals is a great feeling.
It was a great experience! We covered a broad range of problems, focused on best practices and were supported the whole time. The program also gave me the confidence to transition to a junior developer role with the skills needed to become a productive member of the team.
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?
We've increased the number of employees who identify as female in the Envato workforce, and this is especially true in the realm of technical roles. Our 2017 Diversity and Inclusion update showed some steady growth in this area, but once pending the successful completion of the second apprentice cohort, Envato will have added a minimum of a further four female developers to its staffing population, improving the gender split in technical roles in just one development team at the company by a minimum of 2%.
And while it is not a primary motivator for this program, Envato is very much aware of existing research that shows that a proper, resourced focus on diversity in the tech sector correlates with a positive outcome on not just a company's financial performance, but that of individuals across a business as well. So while we are 100% committed to the idea that having impactful D&I programs at Envato is just the right thing to do, this evidence supports a wider business case as well.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
In less than a year we've added two fully-trained female developers to the local tech talent pool with a further two on their way to reaching this status. We're not aware of another program that has provided such a clear career pathway for aspiring female developers in the local tech sector, and one that gets the successful apprentices involved in critically-important work from day one. That it has been developed in house to respond to the skills shortages and particular requirements we've seen many local companies experience first hand, helps demonstrate to the future female devs of the world that not having a specific degree or extensive previous job experience is no impediment to a career in this field if they really want to achieve it. We're excited for the growth potential of the program, and the long-term impact it could have on the sector.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
We find a great deal of diversity inspiration from our CEO and co-founder Collis Ta'eed, and co-founder and company director Cyan Ta'eed, who was responsible for championing and overseeing the implementation of the original D&I Roadmap. Both have been instrumental in establishing a values-lead business from day one. Likewise, Envato is blessed with a staff community who have 'bought-in' 100% to this approach to managing the business. It's ensured that the company is not simply 'top-down' in its approach to diversity, with many staff taking the lead on D&I initiatives across the business. For example, Envato's LGBTQI staff group "Out @ Envato" was established, and is lead by, staff across the business.
External to the Envato, we've been inspired by both Canva and Atlassian's recent approaches to the issue, and believe it helps to push the local tech sector in a more positive and inclusive direction.