According to a recent study by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, while information technology is one of the fastest growing industries, women are leaving the field at an alarming rate. At the mid-career point, for example, approximately 56 percent of women are leaving the field, more than double the rate for men. In an increasingly interconnected world in which progress depends on mobilizing the talent of and providing opportunity to women as well as men, and in an industry where innovation is a key asset, losing access to such a significant portion of the talent pool is a risk companies can ill afford to bear. So what steps can companies take to stem the tide?
In order to truly capitalize on the skills and perspectives that women bring to the workforce, companies need to institute a comprehensive, systematic approach. It’s not enough to recruit women; companies must integrate robust policies and programs in order to retain them. These initiatives need to provide women opportunities for advancement and the skills- and leadership-based trainings needed to seize the opportunities. Recognition of work-life balance challenges needs to be addressed in policies and programs, and management must create an atmosphere where using such programs is not viewed as detrimental to career progression. Proper accountability for and measurement of implementation strategies is critical, as it allows leadership to identify areas of success and of continued challenge. Commitment from the top is essential, as it sets the tone for the entire workforce.
Through its endorsement of the Calvert Women’s Principles® and its work on the companion Gender Equality Principles Initiative, Symantec has demonstrated its commitment to gender equality. While the company continues to face challenges, it is taking the necessary steps to identify and address those challenges, recognizing that women are a source of competitive advantage in the global workplace and marketplace.
Amy Augustine is the Diversity & International Labor Relations Manager at Calvert Group, Ltd