Elabor8’s journey with Gender Diversity and BOLDMoves

Elabor8’s Gender Diversity Challenge & our involvement in Vic ICT for Women #BOLDMoves initiative.

Here at Elabor8 we are firm believers in Gender Diversity. Since our inception we have strived to establish a diverse consulting base, and as is probably the case with many other companies our initial efforts centred around attracting more women into the recruitment funnel. This didn’t provide much success as so few women are graduating with an IT degree which was one of our key hiring criteria.

A few years ago we stumbled across a solution of sorts, after receiving a few referrals from colleagues in the digital and multimedia industry. We hired some women who didn’t have the usual qualifications we looked for but were a natural fit to the way we work. They were a massive success for both Elabor8 and our clients. They adapted quickly and also brought a new set of skills and experience to our team that expanded and enhanced our consulting offering and value proposition.

We amplified this approach and it began to have a positive effect on our diversity stats. It wasn’t long before we reached a ratio of 45% women to men and we were excited, we weren’t far away from the magical 50% and began readying the press releases. Then about 6 months ago we had a hiccup, we lost a few of our women at the very same time as we won a few large contracts that meant we needed to scale up our recruitment rapidly. All of a sudden our 45% turned into 35% almost overnight and this set off the alarm bells.

Our solution to diversity needed constant focus, and it didn’t scale particularly well.  We realised we needed to broaden our approach, press reset, focus on what we wanted and figure out how to get there.

Bold Moves

To approach this challenge we did what we do best, we gathered a group and used our innovation approaches.  We looked across the employment lifecycle in themes Attract—>Retain—>Develop—> Promote, mashed together some divergent ideas and a number of great initiatives dropped out.

Out of a backlog of 30+ initiatives the top four selected were:

  • Investigate Salary Parity and we are happy to tell you that the women on average were paid equally or in some instances even marginally more than the men
  • Make the company friendlier to Women; so we reviewed and changed our messaging across our job advertisements, marketing collateral and website.
  • Improving Work/life balance is always top of our list to review and keep competitive and this continues to be so, now with a stronger focus towards goals such as flexible working arrangements and conditions for women going on maternity leave and returning to work.
  • Get more involved in Women in IT forums to both promote our awesome women consultants and also to showcase Elabor8 as a great place to work to attract more women to our company.

This last initiative to ‘get more involved in Women in IT forums’ brought us to Seonaid Porter from Vic ICT for Women whom we supported last year with the Leadership Hacks event.  When we approached Seonaid to sponsor and get more actively involved with this years #BOLDMoves initiative Seonaid challenged us to think about how we could use our innovation techniques to help solve the Diversity problem for the whole industry as part of the #BOLDMoves program.

A new approach to gender diversity

Gender Diversity is a complex problem and these are wicked problems. They are best characterised as problems where there are so many influencing factors that analytical approaches don’t work. You are unable to predict with any accuracy what effect a potential solution will have until you try it. To innovate around complex problems you need to take an experimental approach.

When designing a process for the #BOLDMoves ThinkTank we looked to our innovation principals to guide our approach.

In order to ensure we were Goal Driven, the first thing we did was run an Impact Mapping exercise to both determine the Smart Goal and also understand the stakeholders who could influence the outcome and were invited to participate.

Impact mapping to discover goals and influencers

Impact Map

Bold moves think tank

The next step was the #BOLDMoves Dinner Spectacular where we gathered inspirational thoughts, ideas and opinions from 300 inspirational and influential attendees from across the Melbourne IT community.

We took all the Inspiration generated at the Dinner Spectacular and synthesised it into insights to be used in a Collaborative Discovery session, our ThinkTank, to ideate and create Safe to Fail Experiments.The feedback and support to be involved has been overwhelming.

We now have a ThinkTank of 50 business leaders across 26 diverse organisations ready to help design and run their own SAFE to fail experiments.

What is a safe to fail experiment?

Safe to fail experiment

We will publish the experiments created at the ThinkTank so that everyone can test them in their organisation and feed the results back to the wider community on a regular basis, successful experiments will have their activities amplified while unsuccessful experiments will have their activities dampened or altered.

Safe to fail wheel

What can you do?

Start talking, get involved and start making changes in your organisation.

We know the Elabor8 approach to innovation and SAFE to Fail experimentation works, we need you to take action. If you succeed, tell us about it, if not we want to know that too, success comes from trying, each failed experiment brings you and the people you tell closer to a solution that works. Together we can help turn our communities into IT powerhouses through successful diversity programs which bring with them better innovation, stronger growth and most importantly a more successful, happier team.

Introducing Elabor8 think tank facilitators.

Dipa Rao

Dipa has worked in IT for nearly all of her career and have been with Elabor8 for almost a year. Women’s rights and gender equality have always been of a keen interest to her, and in an effort to make a contribution she has volunteered with organisations working with towards gender equality and empowerment of women.
The opportunity to work with VIC ICT for Women was is an exciting intersection of personal interest and professional skills, and she is looking forward to being part of creating innovative ways to experiment with and solve the issue of the lack of gender diversity in IT.

Eva Offermans

Eva comes from a Digital Production and Digital Project Management background and has worked for small businesses as well as well known blue chip clients. She is passionate about coaching and facilitating agile teams, where she co-transforms projects, teams and individuals. She’s a true believer in happy teams delivering more and better quality work.

Jenny Ramirez

Jenny is a Senior Agile Consultant with more than 10 years’ experience working for large enterprises, such as Australia Post, GE Capital Australia and PDVSA (the 4th largest Oil & Gas Company in the world). She has built a great reputation as a team player and team builder. Her achievements have included delivery of multi-million dollar projects as an Iteration Manager, Agile Business Analyst, and coaching Business Owners, Product Managers and Delivery Teams in Agile Methodologies.
Jenny has enthusiastically volunteered to be part of a bold move to increase the number of Women in IT leadership though VIC ICT for Women and Elabor8.

Jochebed Reyes

Jochy joined as a consultant in elabor8 this September. In her journey with IT, beginning from University she has come across mentors,leaders, colleagues, men and women alike that have inspired and helped her to be the person she is. This has made her a strong believer that people, regardless of gender, ethnicity and culture, given the right opportunity, outlet and support can do amazing things. It is for this reason that she has joined BOLDMoves and VicICT in their endeavours to encourage diversity and be a catalyst for change in the workplace and the IT industry.

Josh Centner

Josh is a senior consultant at Elabor8 with background in strategy, consulting, product design, application development and complex workshop facilitation. He combines standardised methodologies and tools with his unique innovative approach. This is particularly useful when it comes to the complex domain of gender diversity, which he is passionate about promoting with the belief that significant and sustainable growth comes from disruptive innovation, and innovation goes hand in hand with diversity.

Paul Velonis

Paul is a co-founder and director of Elabor8 where he also leads the Innovation Product Design service line. Paul first became interested in the gender diversity problem through his Innovation consulting where he began to notice a direct correlation between diverse teams and divergent thinking, which is one of the key steps in design thinking processes.   Paul believes gender diversity is severely impairing our ability to innovate and as such is motivated to be a positive force for change.

Alina Spektorov

Having recently joined Elabor8, Alina has welcomed the opportunity to join the BOLDMoves initiative. She is passionate about issues related to gender diversity, in particular the representation and retention of women in IT, the industry she has worked in for over 10 years.

Alina is looking forward helping encouraging gender diversity, having worked in the highly successful gender diverse IT sector in Israel she knows first hand how this positive change can help raise the Australian IT sector onto the world stage.