At Biarri Networks two of our core values are the Freedom to Innovate and Positive Impact. Innovation thrives when different viewpoints are heard, explored and valued, and at Biarri we aim to create and support a culture where teams actively seek and safely explore different views. We strive to have a positive impact on each other, our business, our community and our planet in everything we do. To this end, we must work to ensure that those who make decisions for the future of our company and our industry represent the broader team and society at large.
Women in STEM careers currently make up less than one third of the workforce across Australia and the US1,2. Australia’s STEM workforce report1 notes underrepresentation is due to “systemic challenges in society and the workforce.” These challenges begin early with stereotypes that deter girls from studying STEM subjects at school and then extend into the workplace. Regardless of their level of interest and aptitude for STEM, women often have fewer opportunities due to a range of factors from biased hiring practices, reduced consideration for career progression, and pay inequality, to a lack of flexibility in the workplace to accommodate career disruptions. These systemic challenges have a compounding effect for people in multiple minority groups such as women of colour.
While emphasizing the inequalities that still exist for women in STEM, these findings also offer a clear pathway to action by highlighting key areas employers can focus on to move towards a more inclusive environment for all employees. Many companies and organisations are already working tirelessly to promote equality within the industry﹘we want to be part of changing the status quo.
Since 2018, female representation at Biarri Networks has risen from around 21% to a current representation of 33%, which is also reflected in our senior leadership team. We are proud to have some incredible female leaders including Galyna Safonova, Lisa Mayo, Jhemina Villanueva, and Mollie Nycum-Duvjak, who each bring a unique, valuable perspective to Biarri Networks. From designing the work flow processes that ensure top notch customer service, to building business functions and leading teams, we celebrate the achievements of the women across our team while recognising that we must continue to work to ensure we have female leaders present companywide.
A key challenge we face as we work towards having a more diverse team is generating a diverse candidate pool during our hiring process, particularly for senior technical roles. We recently began asking our recruiters to intentionally seek out more female candidates for advertised roles. To manage any personal biases that may influence decision-making during the hiring process, our interview panels openly discuss and challenge each other’s assessment of candidates for the role/candidate fit. While it is pleasing to see the number of women completing STEM degrees increasing1, there is still work to be done. To that end, Biarri sponsors university prizes for Women in Mathematics to provide encouragement and extra support as they prepare to move into careers in STEM.
Biarri Networks is also taking practical steps to create internal frameworks that promote equality for everyone on our team and respond to systemic challenges faced by minority groups. These include:
- Implementing a salary matrix across the company to provide a framework for equal pay by role
- Offering flexibility at work to accommodate differences in personal situations
- Providing support, mentoring, and coaching for all our employees during weekly or fortnightly one on one meetings
- Developing and rolling out clear and detailed career pathways for some of our larger teams (Over the coming year, we plan to extend this to the wider company)
As a company at the intersection of the Telecommunications Engineering and Technology industries, we are acutely aware that some perspectives are still missing from the table. Within Biarri Networks and the broader industry, these perspectives will remain absent until we consciously and deliberately take steps to include them.
These initiatives lay the groundwork for equality internally, but we recognise that our work has only just begun. We have a lot to learn as we continue our work to develop and maintain a culture at Biarri Networks where everyone can thrive. Each step we take towards equality is positive and critical, but until we see a healthy diverse balance of people walking through the doors to work at Biarri Networks each day, we know there is more to do.