Intuit Australia is consistently ranked as one of Australia’s best places to work and the global company achieves this by supporting its staff with great initiatives – including supporting women in tech and leadership roles.
These initiatives have obviously worked and as a result, at Intuit, women comprise 45 per cent of the workforce and 50 per cent of the leadership team.
As well, the company prides itself on providing a fun, welcoming and engaging environment for its staff and supporting them in many different ways.
In Australia, the woman driving these supportive initiatives is Natira Drayton who joined Intuit Australia late last year as the new Country Manager. With more than 20 years’ experience driving growth and digital transformation in business, Drayton has gathered a crack team around her so she can keep forging ahead by implementing these major initiatives to support women in tech and her staff in general.
“I think at the core of any leadership opportunity, it’s really about serving people,” she adds. “So, that’s my approach. It’s like, how can I serve our employees and our customers to the best of my ability? A lot of the initiatives we use come out of that passion for making sure our employees are doing the best work of their lives. Sounds cliché but, it’s definitely our focus.”
The Tech Women @ Intuit Initiative
Intuit runs a Tech Women @ Intuit initiative globally. The company recruits, retains and advances women at all career stages, with development resources for potential hires and opportunities to grow for existing employees.
Drayton says one of the first things they did for this initiative was part of International Women’s Day back in March: “We had a panel of women we interviewed – both our employees and our customers – about their journey as women in the workplace. We had appreciation notes all over the walls. It was really lovely.
“But one of the most important things we did was a methodology called Design for Delight. As part of this we posed a question to more than 30 employees who wanted to join in this kind of think tank session.
“We said to them – how can Intuit Australia become best-in-class at attracting and promoting women in Australia? We said we want to know everything. And the team actually came up with a hundred different ideas.
“We had all the ideas on boards all around the room. It was amazing. We looked at all the ideas things. We decided to sponsor three initiatives.So, the first one was about looking at our global hiring policy and making that not just about women, but making it a general, gender neutral policy.
“We made sure our job descriptions were really reaching out to women, not just men. And we did have to make some changes. We made sure we had women representing those panels so we were seeking diversity and making sure that we were giving everybody an opportunity,” says Drayton.
A mentoring and sponsorship program for women @ Intuit
“The second initiative was our mentoring and sponsorship program for women. So how can we match mentees and mentors? Both people are going to get something amazing out of this relationship if we do it right,” she says.
“So, we really looked at how we can retain and advance women throughout our workforce. And not just here in Intuit Australia, but looking for mobility within the global company because a lot of people are interested in that – maybe COVID’s changed that.”
Drayton added she thinks mentoring women is important but she also wanted to find sponsors for women: “… because that’s a kind of a different thing. It’s about really making sure that you’re accountable for the promotion of this person. And when I say promotion, I mean getting their name out there and making sure they’re aware of opportunities which are coming up.
“I want men and women sponsors. It’s not just women. I want sponsors across the business. So, we’re implementing this at the moment. And as part of that, we’ve actually used a coaching program and we put all of our sales and marketing leaders through it which was a one-to-one virtual coach that is external to Intuit, where they can use that time for whatever is going to help them advance their career. And we’ve got so much positive feedback from that,” she says.
Working parents @ Intuit Initiative
The third initiative Drayton implemented was the Working Parents Initiative. For this, Drayton looked at ways to make coming back to work an amazing, enjoyable experience for working parents.
“We looked at it and realised it has to start before they come back to work, not the day that they come back to work. So we’re really looking at what we can do to make sure that experience is amazing for those people. I’m pretty passionate about that,” she adds.
All of these initiatives make working at Intuit different to working at other companies. The end result is Intuit creates an attractive work culture so it’s an exciting place to be and this attracts people to working at a place like Intuit.
Helping small businesses survive COVID-19
Drayton says the staff at Intuit made the transition to working under COVID-19 restrictions fairly easily because, as Drayton says: “We’re a tech company – we’ve actually found it pretty easy to transition to Zoom and to connecting virtually.”
But because COVID-19 has made running a small business more difficult over the past few months, her staff have been extra busy helping their customers cope with all the new regulations, as she says: “With small businesses really struggling or not able to work, we’ve been able to provide the tools, the tips and the support to make sure that they can keep their businesses running in some way.”
According to Drayton, one of the main issues for small business right now is their cash flow and she says by being able to give their customers a tool which helps them monitor, not just what their cash flow is today, but predicts what it will be in the future – is going to be really important.
“This is what small businesses are facing right now. So, understanding how they can access things like JobKeeper is so important. And we can show them how to get a really simple report that gives them the comparison they need to be able to go and enroll in JobKeeper,” she says.
At this critical time, being able to streamline JobKeeper applications has been a lifesaver for some small businesses because it’s kept their processes flowing and got them on top of their finances at a time when they’d normally be in crisis.
Drayton agrees saying: “Also, helping their advisors be efficient in that, as well, is really important. So definitely the small businesses need to be able this information.”
Phone calls to Intuit have definitely increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Drayton says: “Definitely it’s been what we would call a peak season. I think in Q3 alone, we had more than 30,000 calls and more than 200,000 self-help hits on our micro site so it’s been phenomenal.
‘Chat with Nat’
Another initiative Drayton implemented at Intuit is her ‘Chat with Nat.’ She describes it as: “… a relaxed open forum held once a fortnight, for anyone in the business to ask questions or discuss their thoughts and concerns – often over coffee! This approach ensures everyone’s voice is respected.”
This is an initiative Drayton brought in personally because: “I just wanted to make it feel very approachable like just being able to have a chat. And I don’t care what the topic is. I’ve had people come in and say, hey, I’m a woman over 50 and I’m thinking about where my career’s going next and I just don’t know how to approach it – all the way through to, hey, I had this great idea for a partnership opportunity. Do you reckon this is something I could pitch to you?”
The ‘Chat with Nat’ has worked so well it’s one thing which Drayton and her PA have decided is “not allowed to move in my diary because we have to have that time available and make sure that people get that time that I’ve committed to them. So, I love it. Really, it’s one of the things I look forward to the most, probably because I never know what I’m going to get!”
Drayton schedules a ‘Chat with Nat’ at least once a month: “We have an open section and people can just book whichever time within that section that they can make. It’s all sort of private, like one-on-one though.”
“It’s amazing. We get some great ideas from it. People come to me and say they don’t like how we’re doing X, Y, Z and I say, okay, do you have an idea of how we can solve it, because you’re the person that’s dealing with it every day? We’re very lucky to have that time with them, she adds.
Accidental Counsellor training initiative
Because those employees at Intuit who are on the front line answering calls from customers every day, Drayton brought in Accidental Counsellor Training to facilitate helpful conversations.
“A lot of our staff are hearing really sad stories. And I think especially recently as we’ve been in a lot more of a virtual world, it’s hard because they might not be able to leave this at work – because their work is actually now in their home,” she says.
“So to help their employees handle their emotional responses to their work – so they compartmentalise it and say, okay, that was my working day – this is now my home day, we’ve added in our counselling training,” she adds.
“It teaches them how to listen with empathy and that sort of thing. But it also trains them to manage that conversation with the customer as well. Because you want that customer to absolutely feel heard.”
But as Drayton says in conclusion, she’s the lucky one: “I’m very, very, very lucky to work with the team, the team that we have. And we welcome more like-minded individuals to join us.”
Find out more here.