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Women’s History Month 2023: Takeaways from Envato’s International Women’s Day Panel & Partnership With Equidi 

From an International Women's Day panel discussion to a new partnership with gender-diversity tech platform, Equidi, here's how Envato's working to empower women, reduce gender parity, and close the gender pay gap. 

Posted 20 Mar 2023
Women’s History Month 2023: Takeaways from Envato’s International Women’s Day Panel & Partnership With Equidi 

It’s Women’s History Month 2023! Throughout March, Envato is celebrating the incredible women within our organization through the lens of this year’s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” 

“This year’s IWD theme acknowledges that we need to leverage inclusive technologies and embrace disruptive innovation to help combat generational and systemic gender-based discrimination, embedded in our cultural bias for generations,” says Envato’s Global Director of Talent and People Experience, Nat Firth.

While Envato is committed to elevating women within our business and increasing gender diversity all year round, for Women’s History Month, we’ve taken significant steps toward creating a more diverse future. 

Including an International Women’s Day panel discussion and a new partnership with gender-diversity tech platform, Equidi, here’s how Envato’s working to empower women, reduce gender parity, and close the gender pay gap. 

What Is Equidi? 

Envato has officially signed on to gender equity startup Equidi, which we announced as part of our International Women’s Day panel featuring Equidi founder, Natalie Flynn. The platform provides real-time data across the business on workforce representation and pay-gap visibility, as well as goal-setting tools and performance reporting. 

“Equidi is a brand new tech platform for gender diversity. It’s the first platform of its kind, which runs through gender pay-gap models and representation across every section of a business, so you can see what’s going on, drill down into the details, and take action,” explains Natalie Flynn. “One of the challenges companies face is not knowing what to do to increase gender diversity. Equidi couples the quantitative and qualitative, highlighting the data and finding practical information that businesses can pull out, use, and implement through specific actions – such as the need for a gender equity strategy. We started this platform with the idea, ‘how do we make it simple for businesses to move forward and progress with gender equity?'” 

This exciting partnership comes just weeks after the release of Envato’s annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report, which showed year-on-year improvement in gender split across all roles and promotions in the business. In 2022, Envato gave 45.1% of all promotions to women, 53.6% of which were managers. However, there’s still room for improvement. Equidi will enable Envato to improve gender diversity, close our gender pay gap, and take action to increase representation across the business. 

“This platform will level up our intelligence across the business on gender and pay, improving our internal reporting, insights, and actions while ultimately improving gender representation,” says People Advisory Director Sally Sadler. “Equidi is the perfect fit for Envato at the perfect time. We’re excited and proud to be one of Equidi’s early adopters, supporting an Australian-grown startup here in Melbourne.”

Envato’s International Women’s Day 2023 Panel Highlights

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, Envato held a panel that brought together inspiring women from around the business to discuss everything from navigating parental leave and representation in the workplace to their advice for elevating and encouraging women in the workforce.

Featuring the insights and advice of Envato’s Briany Kalms (Head of Author & Customer Success), Kath Briggs (General Counsel), Andrea Womersly (Senior Engineering Manager), and Keri Thom (Finance Director), as well as Equidi Founder Natalie Flynn, here are some of the hardest-hitting takeaways from Envato’s International Women’s Day panel. 

1. Navigating Parental Leave

One overarching theme from Envato’s IWD panel was the monumental impact of parental leave on women’s careers. Many panelists expressed their personal experiences of the negative effects of parental leave, including judgment from co-workers, less respect for working part-time, and time out of the workforce resulting in fewer years of experience on their CV. 

“You can’t get away from the impact of women taking maternity leave and generally being the primary carers for children – it directly impacts our experience and careers,” said Keri Thom, Envato’s Finance Director. “Even if you don’t take extended maternity leave, I see many women working part-time and not putting themselves forward for more responsibility at work because they have additional responsibilities at home. 

As hiring managers, we need to look past the number of years of experience: yes, you want the best candidate for the job, but you also want someone with the skills, capability, and knowledge to do the job. If a woman has fewer years of experience on their CV because of caregiving duties, I don’t think they should be penalized for that.”

While time out of the workforce can undoubtedly hold women back, Envato’s Head of Author & Customer Success, Briany Kalms, pointed out that everyone experiences phases of “growth” and “harvesting” throughout their careers and that it’s okay to take a break from the constant growth trajectory to reap, reflect, and put learned skills and experience into practice. 

“Everyone – more so women, but men as well – will go through periods where, due to unavoidable circumstances, you’ll have to go through a harvesting phase,” said Briany. “This could be due to major life events, illness, deaths, having kids, or carer responsibilities. Looking back at my career, I’ve had high and low growth phases – and that’s okay. It’s about taking the skills and experience you’ve learned to date and being comfortable putting that into practice without constantly striving for the next accomplishment. It was a constructive mindset shift for me to be okay with that. You don’t always have to be on this constant growth trajectory and actively pursuing things – it’s okay to give yourself that time, space, and permission to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come.”

2. The Gender Pay Gap

Another key takeaway from the discussion was the topic of the gender pay gap – the glaring financial discrepancy many women face compared to their male counterparts. 

“Last year, a global study analyzed six nations’ progress on gender – and Australia came last,” said Equidi Founder, Natalie Flynn. “Our progress is focused on compliance and ticking the regulatory boxes without making any meaningful change. It’s time to take real action.” 

Natalie suggests that companies be proactive in their approach to diversity by analyzing the data, realizing the impact of their decisions, and facing the gender pay gap head-on. 

“According to the world economic forum, it will take 132 years to close the gender pay gap,” she explained. “That’s why I founded Equidi – we need to think differently. I don’t believe the gender pay gap is intentional – I’ve never seen a company say, ‘oh, let’s save money by paying the women less.’ But people don’t understand the impact of their daily decisions. We’re misinformed because the data hasn’t ever been available in real-time. Companies evaluate their diversity levels annually, but that doesn’t show their gender pay gap. All diversity-related decisions need to be proactive: not having the issue in the first place is better than trying to fix it.” 

3. A Lack of Representation in the Workplace

In Australia, the percentage of women in tech and engineering currently sits at only 12% – a disappointing figure, to say the least. While initiatives like Envato’s Apprentice Developer Program aim to close the engineering gender gap and improve diversity and inclusion, there’s still a lot of work to be done to carve out career pathways for women in tech and encourage them to succeed. 

“Back at university, I was one of four women in a class of 200 doing computer science,” said Andrea Womersly, Envato’s Senior Engineering Manager. “You see it in schools even now; girls are less likely to study maths and science subjects. And then, when you come out into the workforce, while there’s interest in software engineering, women seem to gravitate more towards the “customer facing” roles with more social interaction. Many women transition towards being business analysts, project managers, etc., which is one of the reasons why the tech industry lacks representation. Some companies even instill quotas to bring more women into their organizations, but once you’re in the industry, it can be very intimidating when your peers are all men.”

And it’s not just tech and engineering – there’s also been an inherent lack of diversity and representation across the legal industry for many decades. However, according to Envato’s General Counsel Kath Briggs, things are slowly changing as more women raise their voices and take a seat at the table.  

“I’ve been working in law for over 25 years,” says Kath. “When I started out as a lawyer, I worked in banking and finance, and essentially no women did that. You’d walk into a crowd, and there’d be 3,000 men and about five women – in my early 20s, that was quite daunting. Law firm culture was male-dominated, and work was allocated based on friendships rather than the quality of the work.

When I moved on to leadership teams, I was generally the only woman at the table. Over time, more women joined, but the conversations and decisions were still relatively homogenous, lacking diversity of gender, skill set, background, and experience – meaning we’d end up with very homogenous decision-making. It’s an absolute pleasure to find that leadership teams now are much more diverse, and as a woman, you can bring more to the table.” 

4. Finding Mentorship & Support Networks

A key piece of advice from our panelists was that women need to build strong support networks and seek out strong role models – both in and outside their fields – to provide them with mentorship throughout their careers, especially in male-dominated industries. 

“As women in a male-dominated space, you need support networks,” said Andrea Womersly, Senior Engineering Manager. I have a lot of friends who are women working in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, maths, and architecture – and all of them have had the same experience.” 

As a woman in a traditionally underrepresented industry, Kath Briggs advised women to take charge of their futures by reaching out to mentors early on and developing their networks. 

“Take control of your career – I reached out quite early on to find mentors and people in industries I was interested in – not necessarily just legal – and spent a lot of time developing those networks,” said Kath.

While mentorship can be a fantastic start, it’s been called out that women are often over-mentored and under-sponsored. In other words, too many women have mentors eager to share knowledge, but not enough willing to use their position of power to help them progress.

“We need to be careful about over-mentoring,” said Natalie Flynn. “It can be easy to default to asking women to find mentors, and while this can be helpful, we also need to start asking men to be allies, too.”

5. The Disparity in Career Progression 

Another eye-opening topic of discussion was how differently men and women progressed in the workforce and how – more often than not – men are prioritized over women for senior roles. 

“In my previous experience in the finance industry, there would usually be an intake of around 30 people in any given workplace: half men and half women,” said Keri Thom, Envato’s Finance Director. “It was an equal progression initially: if anything, women were doing slightly better. But when I looked back at the accounts, I realized that although several women had progressed to senior managers or directors, many men had progressed to the executive and partner level, which was quite a distinction. I always knew there was some gender inequality, but in my personal experience, I naively didn’t see the size of the disparity until the evidence was before me.” 

While several panelists agreed that most of the responsibility lay with leadership not encouraging or prioritizing women for leadership opportunities, women shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves forward more frequently – or leave a company if they feel unheard, disrespected, or undervalued. 

“Women tend not to put themselves forward for opportunities like men do,” Keri continued. “While it might not apply to everyone, leadership should do more to encourage women to put themselves forward for roles. And, as women, we should put ourselves out there more, too.” 

Kath added: “In my career, I’ve found that if something feels wrong or needs to change, I’m not afraid to leave. Our careers are very long, and we work for a long time, so it’s okay to leave a company if it doesn’t align with your values.” 

6. Advice for Allies: How to Make a Change

When it comes to making a change from the ground up, there are ways we can all assist in moving the needle toward a more diverse and representative future – both women and allies alike. 

“At all levels, advocacy and sponsorship are where men can play the biggest role,” says Andrea. “Support can come in many shapes and forms. For example, in my industry, some people tend to be less technical, which others see as a constraint. I’d recommend finding people who support you, and making strong partnerships – it creates more diversity, teaches new skills and compassion, and helps things come together more easily. It’s a win-win.”

We hope you enjoyed the highlights from our recent IWD panel. While you’re here, Meet the Women Creating Diverse Content on Envato Elements, read more about Envato’s Partnership with Equidi, and check out our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report for 2022 to see how Envato’s working toward a more diverse future. 

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