This International Women's Day IWD (8th March) theme asks our workplace, our communities and each of us individually to take responsibility for our own actions and thoughts to #BreaktheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, the bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead in the industry. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, however, action is needed to level the playing field.
The Subnet Family has been working for many years to improve equality and diversity for all in the organisation, and over the last few years, we have made real advances. This year we are really kicking it up a notch, as the whole Subnet crew take it on ourselves to improve the level of equality not only for our business but throughout the entire technology industry in Australia.
This year, taking time to consider my own biases, made me think back to a conversation with a previous marketing lead at Subnet, Sasha. Generally, I thought of myself (like I'm sure many of you reading this) as a progressive thinker, someone that always endeavoured to help and support any member of the Subnet family, no matter the religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, political leaning etc. But after a conversation about gender bias, a lightbulb went off that I had never directly considered that made me think about how unconscious bias from my upbringing, privilege and general life experiences may be impacting how we think in business. How simple things like how my role, my physical stature/appearance or even my loud voice might inherently make it difficult for someone to feel empowered to speak up or disagree, no matter what I said or did.
This is when we created the Women of Subnet. This group, made up of our female employees, are given time and support to work together to empower each other as a collective to generate ways to reduce any biases in policies and procedures, discuss how we might create new inclusive programs, and how we can generally improve equality and diversity in the organisation.
This group reports directly to the Subnet Executive and Board as a single voice for all Women in Subnet. This has led to great programs being kicked off including external salary equality reviews, improved hiring process and mentoring programs, as well as the Subnet fundraising events for Women-Led and supportive charities.
This now means we have strong and powerful women working across the entire business, in every team, providing valuable input, creating direction and championing customer service. As they say, happy staff mean happy clients, and as such we have created many programs to ensure that our team continue really love working at Subnet. Some of the great programs that the Women of Subnet have called out include our flexible working environment supporting longer-term working from home (for instance after childbirth), and more flexible work times to better support their families going forward. In fact, our entire team can now work one day from home each week to ensure they can better support their own families in addition to their Subnet one.
This IWD, we have gone on the front foot to do even more for the entire Technology industry in South Australia and the rest of the country. The initiatives really stemmed from our core 'Why' as a business, which is To make a real difference through our experience and excellence and focuses on how we can improve gender diversity in the technology sector. This sector is heavily male-dominated and especially on the technical support side, is almost impossible to find a non-male resume. To achieve this we believe to get more non-male opportunities in the industry, we must increase tech-based education, capacity and visibility of the exciting technology-based roles that the industry is so desperately in need.
Our plan is focused on the following actions;
1. Improve the capacity for female-focused training, education and visibility of technology roles.
To that end, Subnet is extremely proud to be a sponsor of HerTechPath. HerTechPath is a grass-roots community of women in South Australia working in the tech sector who want to celebrate and inspire women and girls to consider rewarding and diverse careers in the technology sector. As a father of two girls, I think that this is a fantastic initiative that will promote and educate many school-aged girls to consider a career in technology and to provide ways to enable them.
2. Directly provide ways to improve the opportunities for female-led IT roles.
After kicking off our search for the first paid intern role last year, we had the best start managing to pick up the exceptionally talented Sarah Hibberd. Sarah joined our team in a new role as a Cyber Security Analyst, and in addition to picking up and running with the role, Sarah helped us understand how we could continue to improve the program and better support people coming into the industry. Sarah is now a full-time employee and that really lit the spark about how we might be able to take that knowledge and support to the next level.
This IWD we are kicking off the Subnet female-focused Intern Program, importantly for both metro and regional roles. This program is focused on attracting females new to the industry with limited experience and skilling them up both with a technical skillset and real-world know-how. We even have our first round of interns already scheduled in, with two female interns in our Forestville office and another in our Berri office starting this month. Our longer-term plans involve moving some intern based roles into full-time roles, and others continuing out into the wider South Australian marketplace to support other ICT resellers.
This program also provides a fantastic opportunity to allow a key person in the Subnet Family to step up into a leadership role, leading our continuing Subnet Intern program. The whole Subnet crew congratulate @Karen Collins, who now moves into leadership and mentoring of the new team, increasing the number of females in leadership to 50% of our Service Leadership Team and 25% of the entire Subnet leadership team. We continue to look forward to future opportunities of increasing that more in future.
3. Subnet Mentoring Program with female-led mentoring
Another fantastic idea from another of our key female employees is the Subnet mentoring program created by @Jelena Turniski, which provides one-on-one mentoring to improve the technical, business or interpersonal capabilities of all Subnet staff. With Jelena and other leaders being key mentors, this program provides a support and guidance mechanism to allow all of the team to grow and evolve.
We are proud of the actions we have already taken, and can't wait for the new programs and partnerships to continue evolving our journey to improve the equality and diversity of our Family. If you would like to be part of the Intern Program, want to talk about how we implemented any of these initiatives or have any constructive ideas on something we can do in prep for IWD 2023 please reach out.
Lets all #BreaktheBias this International Women's Day