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International Women’s Day: Being bold is in our DNA

Posted 1 year ago in Xero news by Rachael Powell
Posted by Rachael Powell

Happy International Women’s Day! At Xero, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate all the incredible women who work hard everyday to ‘Be Bold for Change’ – this photo shows just one of them. It’s also a chance to stop and reflect on all the cool things we’ve achieved in terms of encouraging more women into the tech sector and Xero. We’ve been really committed to this for some time now and although we know there is still lots more to do we’re definitely heading in the right direction.

A few of our great stats:

At Xero ‘changing the game’ is part of our DNA so ‘being bold for change’ comes naturally to us . We have seen some positive change, particularly in the last few years, of women across the business globally. Our executive team are 50% women, and 40% across all our people. We are also above the industry average in a number of areas, including product and platform, where a quarter of our staff are women (compared to the industry average of 15%). Getting more women into the technical side of our business is a key priority for us and we are making great headway.

Why is diversity and inclusion important at Xero?

Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • Accepting and treating everyone equally and with respect is what our Xero #human value is all about.
  • We need to reflect our diverse customer base to ensure we build products that speak directly to them.
  • It’s a social imperative – our people will be more engaged, motivated, high performing and happy.
  • Diversity rives better business outcomes by leading to greater innovation, economic performance, and shareholder value (McKinsey’s research highlights that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers).

What’s our approach?

We have an unwavering focus on encouraging more women into tech and helping them to flourish once they get here. However, we have never taken a ‘tick the box’ approach, or believed that setting hard targets is the answer. For example: we have always made the decision to recruit and promote people based on merit rather than reaching quotas, as we know that our success as a business relies on appointing the best people for the job. We just need to be sure that there is no bias, conscious or unconscious, at play when we make ‘merit-based’ decisions.

Our approach, therefore, has been to focus on proactive strategies that will ensure we continue to lead the way in the tech sector when it comes to gender diversity. This is reflected in our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for 2017 which includes a heap of great stuff we are rolling out globally.

Here are just a few of the things we have in play:

  1. Ensuring diversity and inclusion, as a strategic business priority, led from the top.
  2. Having a global approach to flexible working.
  3. Diversity and inclusion training for all Xero staff (including unconscious bias training).
  4. Strengthening the number of women leaders we have across the business.
  5. Ensure our employer brand reflects the importance of diversity and inclusion at Xero and we attract from a wider talent pool.
  6. Bolster ‘women and tech’ initiatives and events globally (e.g. Code Like A Girl, Tech Girl Movement, League of Extraordinary Women’s Tech Formation: Run the World conference etc.)
  7. We’re going to appoint a Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager to drive our focus and initiatives forward.

Beyond gender…

Finally we know diversity is a broad concept, but we have actively chosen to put particular attention on gender at the moment. Our vision for Xero is much broader than just referring to people in terms of categories (e.g. gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality etc.). But rather we want to develop a culture and environment where everybody working at Xero feels like their personality, perspective, slang, background, and stories matter and are embraced as much as everyone else’s. Only then do we all have the opportunity to truly flourish. Cheers to that!



March 9, 2017 at 1.10 pm

Inspirational read – thanks Xero for identifying and sharing the importance of gender diversity, and most importantly, for walking the talk.

Rachael Powell
March 13, 2017 at 11.11 pm

Thanks CareerMum! We are not where we want to be but certainly on the journey!!

March 27, 2017 at 2.54 pm

All of the Product Managers in Xero Business — the people that are supposed to represent customers — are all white males in their 30s, please explain how that is showing any diversity.

Rachael Powell
May 11, 2017 at 4.15 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment. We are making good progress but there is still a LOT more we want to do. Hence why D&I is now a strategic priority led by our Executive team with clear accountability for it, we have developed a comprehensive D&I strategy, and appointed a Diversity, Inclusion and Community Manager Bindy Edelman to drive work in this space forward.

We know that the product side of our business is an area we need to particularly focus on – it’s a problem for the tech sector in general. (Currently we have 27% females globally on the technical side of our business whilst the industry average is approx 15% female.) However we are committed to leading the charge and the Executive team’s level 1 action is ‘Lead diversity and inclusion inside Xero and across our community’. One of the first things we have committed to as a part of our strategy is running in-depth 2 hour Diversity and Inclusion workshops (includes unconscious bias) across the business. Bindy has our Product teams as one of her first priorities.

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