It's only two weeks to go until our Melbourne Knowledge Week workshop Diversity in the innovation ecosystem on May 22. This week we chatted to our fourth speaker Mario Visic, Developer Mentor at Envato about his motivation to champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Mario has always been passionate about software engineering. Since 2017, he has been running the Apprentice Developer program at Envato. This fully paid apprenticeship program takes aspiring female software developers and trains them up to become junior developers at Envato. They hope to expand it to other underrepresented groups in future.

Mario, why is diversity and inclusion important to you?

When I was younger I decided to go to university to pursue my passion and study computer science. The only factor that went into the decision was “what might I enjoy doing professionally for the rest of my life?”. At the time this seemed obvious to me – why would you need to ask any other questions? Now I realise that what I had at the time was privilege. I never had to ask, “will I be safe in this industry?” or “will I be treated as an equal to my peers?” Diversity and inclusion are important to me because I would like to live in a society where my experiences aren't a privilege, but the norm for everyone.

When did you first feel like the work you are doing in this space was starting to make an impact?

My proudest moment was when our first two apprentices graduated from the program and moved into full-time developer positions at Envato. It was sad not to see them every work day, but I was so happy that I was able to help them start their new careers as software developers.

Where would you recommend people look for resources to build their practice and understanding of this topic?

I think one of the most important things you can do in a community, especially if you are in a majority group, is to work to ensure that the environment is comfortable for everyone. I recommend speaking to people that may look or behave differently to yourself, or just have a different perspective to you. Further your understanding of the struggles that others have to go through – struggles that you may not have personally gone through yourself.

Book your ticket (free event) to Diversity in the innovation ecosystem

This event is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 20–26 May 2019, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne. Paper Giant is hosting this event in partnership with Committee for Melbourne.