The Australian Computer Society reported women hold under a third of all technology jobs in Australia. More recently, the Federal government made a pledge to collaborate with the industry to bolster female participation to at least 40 percent by 2030 – currently the overwhelming male dominance estimates female occupancy at only 2 to 29 percent.
Before the work from home movement even existed, David Dicker was already the champion of flexible working arrangements and was built on a foundation of working mums. The company employs more than 500 people, and has a board which comprises a 50/50 male to female ratio.
The IT sector remains heavily male dominated, especially in executive positions. Dicker Data is part of the Male Champions of Change Microsoft Partner Group and more recently won the Diversity and Inclusion Champion for the second year running at WIICTA last week. The big vendors they were up against include HP, HPE, Microsoft, VMware and Schneider Electric. Since the introduction of the award in 2021, Dicker Data have now won it both times.
CFO & Exec Director of Dicker Data, Mary Stojcevski, has been with the company for more than 25 years as a working mother and board member. Here, she shares why gender equality is so important within her industry.
Dicker Data is known for empowering women to thrive and excel in their careers. Do you believe the success of your company can be attributed to its commitment to gender equality?
Flexible work has been available at Dicker Data and part of our culture from the outset. Our Chairman/CEO and Co-Founder, David Dicker introduced the policy in the early days of the company, as far back as the 1980’s, because it made good business sense. We are fortunate that flexibility, supporting working mums and the high representation of women is in the Company’s DNA.
Going back to when I first started over 20 years ago in 1999, there were approximately 15 women employed, all on flexible hours as most of us had young children. We were employed on a casual basis, getting paid for the hours we could work. We had the option to structure hours to suit personal and family commitments. Apart from David the rest of the workforce were women in all facets of the distribution business including sales, finance and logistics. We were employed on a casual basis, getting paid for the hours we could work which enabled us to structure our time around work, personal and family commitments. It was shortly after my starting that males were hired in the logistic roles.
The company gained the benefit of individuals who were grateful for the opportunity to return to work flexibly which in turn drove our commitment and loyalty to the business. Post Covid, whilst we are encouraging team members to return to the office in some capacity, we have certainly seen an accelerated flexibility and new hybrid options to retain flexibility for both men and women.
What do you think the sector needs to do to ensure opportunities are accessible to women and attract more women to enter tech?
The technology sector has so much to offer for women and continues to prove its resilience. Gender diversity is crucial to any workplace and while the pandemic proved workplace cultures have the capability to evolve, now’s our chance to break industry stereotypes for women to pursue study in the IT and broader STEM businesses. I believe:
- Training programs that help upskill women in STEM or general leadership and IT skills are key to driving effective career mapping opportunities and promote the role of women across the sector
- Gender equality is directly linked to workplace culture and business strategy. An inclusive, diverse, and well-structured corporate environment determines the success of how a business operates
- A performance-based culture also validates opportunity and promotion by individual merit, helping to build an ecosystem of collective achievement, no matter your gender
- Workplace flexibility is another enabler of gender equality and is solely based on trust between employees and employers to ensure that the objectives of both are met
- Flexible work hours e.g. casual or part-time options, equal opportunity, effective career mapping and the ability to arrange work from home on either set or ad-hoc days, providing work could be done from home
- Hiring and recruitment policies will help leaders be more conscious of diversity number
- Taking part in broader industry movements will encourage not only male leaders to step up beside women, but also encourages women to the lead action that advances equality, drives commitment to diversity and inclusion to the broader industry – for example Microsoft and a group of foundational members including Dicker Data have formed the Male Champions of Change Microsoft Partner Group which brings together leaders across the technology sector to committed and drive gender equality in the sector by finding and adopting innovative and disruptive ways to lower the barriers to entry to the sector, and supporting and enabling women in the workplace to thrive now and in the future.
Tell us about your path to becoming an IT Executive and CFO at Dicker Data.
I started working at Dicker Data part-time as financial controller back in 1999. At the time I had no idea I was entering one of the more exciting and growing sectors being IT and 22 years on, I’m still with the same company experiencing the growth and next era of technology. I had left a corporate city job to work in the suburbs, specifically because it was located close to home and afforded me the flexibility to be able to be available to drop off and pick up my children from school.
It was a newly created role and I was fortunate to have a lot autonomy in the role and able to make it my own, then being offered the role of CFO role in 2010 just before the company converted to a public company and listed on the ASX. Since 2007 – to present I work full-time. I have now been with Dicker Data coming up to 23 years and in that time I have been given a great opportunity to be able to grow professionally as the company has grown. It has felt like I have been working for a new company every 5 years as there have been many milestones achieved in that time frame. When I first started we had 15 females only, doing approx. $100m turnover. We now have over 800 people across ANZ and are targeting turnover of $3b in sales.
What are the major challenges in reducing barriers to senior positions and the proactive initiatives that should be undertaken to connect, engage and retain female employees?
A major challenge is the lack of senior executive support for the change initiative. However, with a change in company policies, paired with government regulation and support, a positive impact could be made.
Tell us about Dicker Data’s gender equality initiatives.
A large representation of women in the workplace, considering the male dominant nature of our industry. As the Company employs over 600 people across ANZ we have gender ration of 54% male and 46% female.
- Our approach to diversity and inclusion which is at the core of our company’s success. We invest in it because it’s gets the best outcome for the business.
- ASX300 leading Board-level diversity (4 female, 3 male execs)
- Our documented policies on ensuring we have diverse teams (gender, race, age, etc)
- Industry-leading gender diversity in what is traditionally a male dominated environment