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APAC Diversity – Guest Speaker Series

By Jessica Kirk – SDR, DocuSign Australia

Katie Dufficy, APAC Director of Communications, Salesforce

Friday afternoon. Pizza, beer, and laughter came from the kitchen. Katie Dufficy arrived in our Sydney office to kick off DocuSign APAC’s diversity guest speaker series.

I was looking forward to meeting Katie, the APAC Director of Communications at Salesforce – our biggest partner company. Katie has over eleven years’ experience in communications and public relations, working for both B2B and B2C technology companies. She currently leads a team of communications professionals across Asia Pacific and takes the lead on the external communications for Salesforce’s equality programs in the region. She also sits as a committee member on two of their equality focused employee groups: Outforce and Salesforce Women’s Network.

Katie’s passion is women in technology and so her talk was focusing on gender diversity in business. I was interested to hear about Katie’s experiences with these initiatives at Salesforce, and what we could learn from them. I asked Katie to tell us a little about the current equality initiatives at Salesforce. She began by explaining Salesforce’s commitment to the Age of Equality and its 1-1-1 corporate philanthropy model.

Salesforce firmly believes that as customer and employee populations become more diverse, they demand Equality-driven businesses. Inequality, in all its forms – Gender, LGBTQ, Racial or otherwise – is an issue that every company must address for its own benefit and to create a better world. They believe businesses need to focus on closing the Equality gap with the same energy put into creating new products and markets. Katie highlighted that is the role of business today to have a voice and to help usher in the Age of Equality for all.

Katie explained that through these models, Salesforce spent $3m globally to eliminate differences in pay between men and women and Salesforce APAC has publicly pledged its support for marriage equality in Australia and developed a bespoke training course to address unconscious bias. Through Salesforce.org (the philanthropy arm of the business) Salesforce regularly runs sessions where they bring girls from schools all across Sydney into the Salesforce office to promote STEM as a career and introduce them to what it’s like working for a tech company.

This talk’s focus was gender equality, so I wanted to understand that particular framework better in asking my next question on Australian business and why gender equality is so important.

Katie posed to the office, “Did you know there is a study that demonstrates there are fewer women in top management positions in Australia than there are men named John, David, or Peter?” You can read more on this here.

Katie explained that the industry average for technology is a 70/30 ratio of women to men in the tech industry, which dips significantly lower when you look at senior levels of the industry and business.  She also highlighted that Salesforce publishes its diversity data at Salesforce.com/equality

“Why is tech driven by men?” asked one of our employees.

Katie believes boys are traditionally steered towards gendered ideas of what careers for men and women should be. An employee agreed, stating a personal example of how her husband recently encouraged their daughter to pick a ‘girl’ profession when she declared she wanted to be a firefighter when she grew up. Another employee stated that she believes paternity leave policies she’s had to deal with before in the tech industry have inhibited her and fellow women’s roles within the company.

So, I asked, what are some of the actions Salesforce has taken to level the playing field?

Katie spoke of the role of the Salesforce’s Women’s Network an Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family) groups entirely employee-led which is seeking to break down gender inequality at Salesforce. For them, it means implementing 50/50 ratio of men and women on the Women’s Network committee, seeking a diverse 50/50 recruitment ratio pool of men and women per advertised position, industry leading paid paternity leave for both primary and secondary carers, a commitment to review pay across the board each year, and addressing the unconscious biases we all have. “For example, women cleaning up the table after meetings in boardrooms.” This drew an awkward laugh from the office, following an email in which our female executive assistant had kindly requested – again – that we all clean up after ourselves so it does not fall on her. “Sorry!” the office called out at her.

In what ways could our office, and the larger DocuSign APAC, become involved in driving gender equality and other diversity and inclusion strategies?

“Speak up and show up.” Katie stated firmly. She understands these are difficult discussions to have, and offers the advice to not take unconscious biases as a malicious attempt when speaking up against prejudice. “Treat it as a healthy discussion where both sides can learn?” offers an employee. Absolutely, agrees Katie.

Katie stressed that no one – and no company – is perfect, and to acknowledge this, yet strive to be better. She also highlighted that tech companies can come together and learn from each other and perhaps lead the way for other male-dominated industries.

Furthermore, she believes, the task also falls to management to drive equality and address inequality. Its an employee up and leadership down model.

During Q&A, a question from the audience, “What called you to be championing equality within your work life?” Katie said it is in part due to her strong upbringing from her mother. She also said it was the enjoyment she gets from working on something she is deeply passionate about where you can start to see the change you want.

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