This page belongs to: Advancing Women in STEM Strategy

The diversity advantage

For gender equality in STEM to become a reality, industry leaders need to take an active role. The Male Champions of Change (MCC) initiative does just that by engaging male leaders to drive and accelerate change. MCC recognises that women’s lack of retention and progress in STEM signalled persistent barriers that needed to be addressed. That’s why, with funding from the Australian Government, MCC-STEM was launched.

Photo of Tim Reed

Tim Reed. Image credit Kit Haseldon

In 2017, CEO of MYOB, Tim Reed became a founding member of MCC-STEM. When asked why he joined the program, Mr Reed said, ‘I’ve lived most of my business life like many men- believing gender equality in tech is not my issue, that it is a pipeline issue. I became a Male Champion of Change when I realised it is everybody’s issue.’

‘Talent is distributed evenly across men and women. Yet when you look at those that reach the highest positions in tech, and almost any industry, it is overwhelmingly men. A system that has been built by men, and works for men, drives these outcomes,’ says Mr Reed, ‘it is time we addressed this and created systems that work equally for men and women.’

Mr Reed believes it’s important for everyone to step up and play a part in helping address gender inequality in STEM, but much of this responsibility sits with men because they are the people who control these systems and can drive change. ‘For a long time it felt like the best thing to do was to step aside and let women lead the way with regard to gender equality. However, I now believe that standing beside women to speak out about gender equality, and more importantly act on it, is not about speaking for or saving women, it’s about men, who are still in positions of privilege, being accountable for gender equity results,’ says Mr Reed.

Being a Male Champion of Change has also affected the way Mr Reed sees the world. ‘I’m now far more aware of the impact of the images we portray, of the language we use and how it is perceived differently and what we expect of one another in the workplace,’ says Mr Reed, ‘I grew up in Australia believing we live in a meritocracy, and then one day it struck me that it was easy for me to feel that way, because I’m a white man. I don’t want to be responsible for perpetuating a system that continues to produce such biased outcomes. I want everyone to start with an equal chance.’

MYOB have implemented a number of methods to improve gender equity since joining MCC-STEM. Gender targets were set for teams and regular gender pay gap analysis is conducted to determine the progress being made against the targets. MYOB’s parental leave policy has been strengthened and is equally accessible to men and women. The business has taken a number of steps to make sure flexibility isn’t just a policy on paper but is a real option that is supported and adopted throughout the organisation. MYOB also launched DevelopHer, an internship for women wanting to become programmers. ‘As a technology business, we recognise a diverse workforce is a key competitive advantage. The same goes for our economy, which is why we need inclusive leadership to ensure women are supported to thrive at all levels of business,’ says Mr Reed, ‘MYOB is just at the beginning of our journey. We’ve committed ourselves to challenging traditional gender roles in our business and taking real action in the pursuit of gender equality in the workplace.’