Why carsales Is Changing The Pipeline Of Women In Technology

Why carsales Is Changing The Pipeline Of Women In Technology

Ahead of the Women Leading Tech Awards, B&T caught up with Anthea Corridon, carsales’ executive general manager, people, to find out why the company is far more than a place to flog old motors and is changing the very fabric of the Australian tech landscape.

Lead image L-R: Nandini Jain, junior DevOps engineer; Julia Harper, head of delivery; Michelle Ohh, data graduate; Ida Kristiansson, delivery lead; Delphine De Sanglier, junior software developer; and Hilary Kirchner, junior software developer, all carsales.

Corridon joined carsales some six years ago, following a stint in London. While it was her first exposure to the world of technology, it has marked a distinct change in how she sees the world and the work she does with the carsales team to improve the lives of women in technology.

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B&T: Why does carsales offer training programs to attract female tech talent?

Anthea Corridon: We look at the staff attraction piece through two lenses. There’s the need to build a pipeline of talent to address the fact that women are underrepresented in STEM and we need more women to be interested, engaged and looking to pursue STEM careers. That starts from early education. carsales is involved in several community programs to address the root cause of underrepresentation. The other lens is retaining and developing our existing team through internal mentoring, career and soft skills development, and pathways to women in technology outside of the traditional routes.

Anthea Corridon - Executive General Manager - People at carsales (1) (2)

Anthea Corridon, executive general manager – people, carsales

We want to make sure that everybody who comes through the door at carsales has the opportunity to make a career in technology and the opportunity to develop. This means we can improve our staff retention and have them grow with us.

We’ve worked hard to make sure our employer brand is really strong in market and we’ve positioned ourselves as a digital marketplace rather than an auto company. We want to be seen as a destination for digital talent. I can personally attest to the benefits and opportunities that exist within carsales and the diverse careers we provide.

One recent initiative is a global talent exchange program with our parent company CAR Group. It gives team members from all our regions globally the opportunity to work in another market for a month. Two female team members from carsales recently headed over to Brazil and the US to work in CAR Group’s companies over there. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we’re able to extend to our people.

Can you tell us more about the employee exchange program?

We’ve had five participants so far and when they’ve returned to their home markets, they’ve provided an update in our quarterly CAR Group Catch Up run by our global executive team. They give an update on what’s happening in the business and share their experience and learnings. It has also built great connections across the businesses. So, when they have returned home, they really maintain the relationships formed in their host country.

What do the education initiatives entail?

We’ve partnered with CS in Schools for several years. It works to address that digital literacy is not taught in schools enough or at all. We need to be teaching kids far greater digital literacy. We provide CS in Schools with volunteers who lead a training curriculum and work with teachers in the classroom to teach foundational digital skills such as coding to students. They’ve really grown the program over the last few years in terms of the number of students they can reach.

We also work with intern programs focused on reaching potential hires who haven’t completed the traditional three- or- four-year degree and one program we’ve had huge success with is the Victorian Digital Jobs Program. That program looks to retrain and reskill what they call mid-career professionals — so people over 30 who have had non-digital careers. They complete a short course funded by the Victorian Government in partnership with great universities across Melbourne. The program also features a guaranteed work placement and that’s where carsales comes in. It’s been a fantastic initiative to grow our talent pool and we have retained more than 90 per cent of the interns who have joined us on placements. None of them are guaranteed a full-time role but we really invest in those 12 weeks and it’s paying off.

We’re really focused on our intern programs and we have a 50-50 gender split across them all. We also have a partnership with Kangan TAFE which has launched a digital traineeship, as well as the Monash IBL program and CareerSeekers.

What tangible measures of success have you gleaned from these initiatives?

The one I’m most proud of is the 90 per cent retention rate from the internship programs. But we also have a tech and data graduate program and thanks to our efforts promoting our employer brand and having great career development opportunities this has meant that we were able to attract a really diverse pool of candidates and we’ve hired 75 per cent female in our 2024 cohort. I’m also pleased to say that we’ve retained more than 80 per cent of our grads since 2021. Those numbers speak to the work we’ve done for our employer brand to attract great talent but, once they get here, retain and develop them.

From a broader industry perspective, there simply isn’t a strong enough pipeline of female talent in tech and digital jobs to sustain market growth. The Tech Council of Australia estimates that we will need 1.2 million people in tech by 2030 — or an extra 650,000 people. Universities are never going to provide that and skilled migration won’t be able to either. So these programs that get people into technology through alternative pathways are really important, not just for carsales but the industry as a whole. If we support them and other employers get on board, it’s mutually beneficial for all.

Thinking about the kind of tech sector more broadly, why do you think it can be hard to retain female staff in technical roles?

It’s a really competitive space with a shortage of female talent already. As an employer, you have to offer excellent flexible leave options, career development opportunities and a supportive environment. If you don’t have those, female talent is going to look elsewhere.

We offer 22 weeks of parental leave and we maintain super payments during periods of unpaid parental leave. As a result, in the last year we have had a 100 per cent return rate following parental leave. When women go off on parental leave, they need to know that they can come back to a supportive environment where they can continue to grow their careers. But we also go beyond having support at that stage. At the end of 2021, we launched Autonomy to Choose for our Australian and New Zealand team members, giving them a choice of whether they want to be in the office, hybrid or work from anywhere. We have no expectations of people coming to an office. Some companies have mandated returns to the office and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that this will unfairly impact women, as they remain the primary caregivers in society. Being able to commit to this flexibility has absolutely helped us retain talent while maintaining low turnover and high engagement.

What is carsales gender pay gap and staff turnover?

We have an 8.4 per cent mean gender pay gap for total remuneration — well below the industry average of 14.6 per cent. Voluntary turnover for carsales was 14 per cent in FY23. But it’s something that we know we need to continue to work on. Again, it comes back to female representation within the industry and our organisation. We’re really proud to have been recognised as a Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice every year since 2015 and that our leadership team within Australia is now at 40 per cent women – and we’re continuing to grow female representation at every level. But it is an area that we need to continue to focus and work on.

You’ve said that carsales positions itself as a digital marketplace, not a car site. How do you get this across?

It was something that we became more cognisant of over time — that having the word “car” in our business name might put people off because they don’t like cars. We put a lot of effort into refreshing our employer brand and positioning ourselves as a place where you can have a digital career. That’s where the tagline ‘Be a big part of something big’ came from.

We started to do a lot of storytelling, mostly via our LinkedIn, about our employees and the experiences they have had, with career development, flexible working options, returning from parental leave or their promotion opportunities. We also looked at our job ads and made sure they were positioned in a gender-neutral manner and that they spoke about the benefits and opportunities that exist in carsales.

We also created some great content that highlighted the experiences of real carsales team members and showing the diversity across the organisation. It’s been a really conscious effort, we had to talk about what it means to have a career at carsales.

As carsales’ executive general manager, people, why are all of these initiatives important to you? And how does it make you feel to be making the world of tech in Australia a better place for women?

Personally, I believe that we all benefit when workplaces have gender equity and equal gender representation. But in tech, when we are developing products and future experiences, having diversity of thought, not just gender, means that we will be developing better products and solutions for everybody.

Supporting women, particularly in tech, and encouraging them to thrive in this environment really resonates with me. Personally, I didn’t start my career in tech and while the core of my job isn’t in software development or digital design, I do consider myself a woman in tech and I have received great opportunities working in this industry. I want to encourage others to get into tech and embrace those opportunities too!

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