As part of the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission we visited the office of Atlassian, a highly successful Australian startup company.  One of the most valuable speakers from that session was Aubrey Blanche, the Diversity and Inclusion Head at Atlassian.  She sparked lots of great discussion about diversity, and how to do it right.

Some of the takeaways from her talk:

  • Atlassian doesn’t have diversity ‘quotas’, they have ‘targets’.  Sometimes many minorities who are hired feel as if they were purely hired because of their gender/race etc, and not on merit.  This tack helps avoid false expectations.
  • There needs to be diversity across the board to make sure that there isn’t a huge emphasis and obvious difference from people who are different from the majority.  As mentioned in the Atlassian diversity report, if someone is the only woman on their team, they can struggle with a sense of belonging.
  • Different employer packages attract different people, there needs to be great rewards across the board that appeal to a range of different people.
  • Diversity isn’t about getting ‘more women’ in STEM, it’s about staying true to the meaning of diversity – Getting people who are diverse, in background, in ways of thinking, in different perspectives.  Teams can solve problems quicker when there are people with diverse skill sets on board.

I think there’s been fantastic value in ‘female only’ opportunity and reward programs, however, we need to know when the goal has been met and it becomes appropriate to open up these types of programs to everyone.  Data collection and analysis is critical in this and we need to be able to recognise how far we are in reaching those milestones.

There’s more great reading and learning about diversity in action on the Atlassian Diversity page.  Another one of the resources that was mentioned for further reading was  Diversity and Complexity by Scott Page.   Looking forward to many more thoughtful and engaging discussions during our stay in the US!