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International Women’s Day: Championing gender equality

Nicole Reid

Nicole Reid

Mar 7, 2022

Today, Tuesday 8 March, is International Women’s Day. This year, the International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias – celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for gender equality. I’m taking the opportunity to reflect, as I do every year, about the progress that Xero has made and consider our goals for the near future.

We’ve taken several steps over the last 12 months to champion gender equality. These include setting new targets for representation of women at Xero; extending the reach of our Women of Xero and LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs); and capturing gender diverse and non-binary options in our internal reporting.

And, our commitment to gender equality has recently been acknowledged by two separate agencies: we were named in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; and ranked in Equileap’s 2022 Gender Equality Global Report.

We’ve also made the commitment to report on our gender pay gap globally as well as our gender pay equity outcomes. This is why we’re proud to participate in the MindTheGap initiative in New Zealand. Today, MindTheGap published a list of New Zealand headquartered organisations that have chosen to, and those that have chosen not to disclose their gender pay gaps. 

While there is always more work to do, we believe our commitment to pay equity – combined with other inclusive work policies and practices – is consistent with MindTheGap’s core objectives to ensure everyone is paid fairly for their work. For more about our commitment to MindTheGap, and how we’re working to address the factors that contribute to a raw gender pay gap, see last week’s blog post.

New targets for gender equality at Xero

Last year, we set measurable objectives for representation of women at Xero at a Board level, a senior leadership level, and across the whole business. Our Board target was to have at least three female directors and at least three male directors, with an intended Board size of seven to nine directors. For senior leadership and across the rest of the business, our target was 40:40:20 – at least 40% women and 40% men, with the remaining 20% unspecified to allow for flexibility and to recognise that gender is non-binary. 

As of 31 March 2021, we achieved this target: 63% of the Xero leadership team was female, 42% of our employees were women, and we had three female and five male directors on our Board. 

While pleased with our progress, we felt that we could and should strive for even more female representation at Xero. After much reflection, we’ve evolved our objectives – we now aim to achieve 45% representation of women among our senior leaders, our people leaders and all employees by 31 March 2025. 

We will continue to work hard towards attracting diverse talent in the tech industry, with a particular focus on women in tech. Our dedicated and measurable programs of work in place will help as we work towards these targets.

Employees driving awareness around gender equality

At Xero, we’re lucky to have a passionate group of employees who are committed to driving awareness around gender equality issues, with the full support of the senior leadership team. 

We supported the launch of our first Women of Xero ERG in Australia in 2020. Since then, Women of Xero has evolved to now be present in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the United States, and Canada. In regions where we don’t have a standalone chapter, employees are supported by our broader diversity and inclusion networks to support the focus on gender equality.

These ERGs are employee-led groups that drive internal and external engagement opportunities, including hosting regular learning and discussion events in support of gender equality and diversity at Xero. They empower our women to build connections and raise awareness around gender equality issues impacting women of Xero, and the broader community. 

Our LGBTIQA+ groups have also supported our approach to gender equality, promoting awareness around issues impacting our gender diverse and non-binary people.

Championing a diverse workplace

Gender diversity is just one facet of a workplace that truly embraces diversity and inclusion. At Xero, we know that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a strength that enables us to better serve customers, attract top talent and innovate successfully.

With that in mind, we’ve recently supported the formation of several more ERGs. These are: Black Xero, Maori and Pasifika, LGBTQIA+, Asian and Pacific Islander, Neurodiverse, Indigenous, Parents, and Latinx. These groups are an important way for Xero to systematically support diversity and drive a culture of inclusion throughout the organisation in everything we do. 

As I look ahead to the next 12 months, I’m excited about further progress we’re looking to make at Xero. We know that we have more work to do, but we’re committed to doing that work not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.

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