Envato is the world’s premier marketplace for creative assets and creative people. Millions around the world use Envato’s products to buy files, complete educational courses, hire freelancers or learn the skills they need to build websites, videos, apps, graphics and more.
Building a creative a dynamic business like this requires a focus on the inner workings of staff – particularly in the toxic environment where unofficial manifestos are sent to Google staff, where management is unsupportive of staff needs, and businesses collapse due to bad attitudes.
We spoke to Envato’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Abbie Burgess, about the myriad ways she champions diversity and seeks to make the wider tech sector more inclusive.
Explain what Envato does, and why that’s relevant for young Aussies.
We are passionate about helping independent creatives all over the world to earn a living doing what they love, and to date have paid out more than $500 million in earnings to our creative community.
There are so many creative young Australians around the country doing wonderful things in the digital realm and we play our part in helping both creative authors and potential customers complete their projects. For makers, we provide a way for them to get the song they’ve made, the video they’ve shot, the graphic template they’ve created or the WordPress plugin they’ve built out into the world and available for people to buy.
For customers, we help provide a library of incredibly high-quality items – or the skills of fellow creatives for hire! – that they can use to build what they need.
How did Envato start?
Envato started in 2006 as FlashDen, an online marketplace created to provide people with a place to buy and sell Flash files for their web projects (and more), and for the authors of these to be paid a fair rate for their contribution. Co-founders Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Ta’eed and Jun Rung worked as freelancers as they bootstrapped the company and the rest, as they say, is history!
Obviously, the needs for creatives have shifted a lot since then, and the Envato Market has evolved accordingly. We now offer marketplaces that service websites themes and templates, and plugins to support these on. We offer stock audio, video and photos, as well as an incredibly large number of graphic elements and 3D objects.
On top of this, we provide a subscription service offering unlimited downloads on a monthly basis, a freelancer-for-hire marketplace, a suite of related tutorials and courses and, increasingly, website hosting and creation.
Considering the global disruption regarding inclusion in the tech industry, what does diversity in the Australian tech industry look like?
With a topic like diversity and inclusion, there is always going to be room to improve. At its best, diversity is about giving everyone a fair go and providing staff with the freedom and support for them to be themselves at work. We know this boosts creativity, increases innovation and, on a day-to-day level, just makes the office a more interesting and fun place to be.
If there’s one thing we can take out of the reports about Uber’s culture, or the incidents stemming from 500 Startups, it’s that a meaningful company culture starts at the top and is reliant on trust, autonomy, and flexibility of its people, while also actively sourcing and responding to employee feedback. It’s a continuous loop.
What is being done to improve this, at Envato and more broadly?
I work hard to ensure everyone across all levels of the company are comfortable with, and embracing of, difference and individuality within our workplace, while being respectful and supporting the need and perspectives of everyone in the Envato community.
Most recently, this has involved the establishment and activation of a whole-of-company Diversity and Inclusion roadmap, focussed on three key themes: gender equality, LGBTI and mental health support.
We have discrete programs of work planned for each, including:
Once implemented, the changes have the capacity to positively affect more than 300 staff and, perhaps in the long term, help drive equivalent conversations outside the company and across the sector.
What still needs to change?
As above, there can be more done across the domestic tech industry to drive changes in diversity and inclusions practices across the workforce, and report publicly on the results of these.
You can read more on my thoughts about this here.
What’s the most exciting new technology you’d like to incorporate into your day-to-day?
Do I have to pick just one thing? Augmented reality, Virtual reality, Machine Learning, and Automation – to name just a few!