In 2017, diversity was a massive issue both in Australia and worldwide.

In the United States, tech companies began facing up to the fact that openly supporting tolerance and diversity simply wasn’t enough.

These companies began practicing what they preached- finding ways to treat diversity the same way they’ve historically treated innovation- making it a priority throughout the organisation.

Australian Tech Companies Working Hard for Diversity

In Australia, 46.2% of all employees are women, but this drops to 28-31% in technology roles. And just 14% of executive roles are held by women in the tech industry.

The good news? In Australia, tech companies are working hard to attract women. NAB has approximately 2,400 technology staff. The company has increased the number of women it has in senior leadership roles in technology from 18% to 27% in just two years.

Aussie software company Atlassian has also been a leader when it comes to diversity and launched a number of specific initiatives and programs to attract top female talent. As a result, the proportion of female graduates at Atlassian has climbed from 17% in 2016 to 55% by the end of 2017. Atlassian has also been a long-time supporter of marriage equality and illuminated the company’s headquarters with love hearts and rainbows in the lead up to the same-sex marriage referendum. This communicated that LGBTQ employees were more than welcome as staff wore ‘Love is Love’ t-shirts and proudly flew rainbow flags.

Envato is another Australian tech company that works to address workplace diversity in a meaningful way In 2015, the company was awarded the Coolest Australian Company for Women, in the JobAdvisor annual Coolest Companies in Australia competition. And the company also made it to the top of the ‘Diversity’ category in 2016.

Envato launched the first LGBTI technology meetup in Melbourne, and the company both measures and reports its own diversity metrics publically. It also focuses on a balance between work and parenting.

The Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

Diverse teams foster creativity, learning, and innovation. When you have a diverse workforce, employees come from a wide range of backgrounds. That means employers are able to offer customers more solutions due to the new processes and ideas brought into the business.

Employees from different backgrounds all bring a variety of solutions when it comes to achieving a common goal. As more ideas are suggested, the chances that they’ll find the best possible solution are improved. Employees are also attracted to companies that already have diverse workforces since it’s obvious that they don’t practice employment discrimination. Potential candidates want to see that employers are treating their staff fairly, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or religion.

Not only is diversity good for business when it comes to ethics, but it’s also great for the bottom line. McKinsey followed up their 2015 “Why Diversity Matters” study with the analysis of more than 1,000 companies located in 12 countries. The “Delivering through Diversity” report revealed that companies with the most ethnic diversity in executive roles are 33% more likely to have achieved above-average profitability than the companies with the least ethnic diversity.

The same was true for gender diversity. Those measuring in the top quartile were 21% more likely to report that their profitability was above-average than the companies in the lowest quartile.

One way some large organisations are combating a lack of diversity? Unconscious bias training. By bringing awareness into the equation, people can make more conscious decisions. As part of the process, companies openly discuss factors that contribute to unconscious bias. Another option? Running a program that makes CVs anonymous. That way, names are removed so there is no bias based on whether the applicant is female or male.

However you choose to focus on diversity this year, it’s crucial that you’re planning to devote attention and resources towards creating a diverse workplace.