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A Few Tech Companies & Their Gender Equality Efforts

Posted on 7.29.2015

The Web is flooded with discouraging statistics about the large gender gap in the workforce, more specifically, the tech industry. 

For instance, data from the Center for American Progress indicates that in the information technology field, women hold just 9 percent of management positions and account for only 14 percent of senior management positions at Silicon Valley startups. A look at Twitter, in particular, reveals that 79 percent of its leadership team is male and 72 percent is white (data from 2014).

While there are countless other reports that show little to no movement in women being represented in not only top executive roles, but also technical roles, all is not lost. Companies around the country are stepping up to the digital plate to not only diversify their current workforce but also their recruiting efforts in the future. 

InsideSales.com

With its first annual Coding Camp for girls in the books, InsideSales.com is dedicated to providing hands-on instruction to teach girls to code as part of its commitment to encourage more women to enter the field of technology, specifically coding, which InsideSales.com relies heavily upon for its services.

Nestled in what is increasingly referred to as the "Silicon Slopes" (the Salt Lake City, Utah metropolitan area comprised of various well-funded high-tech companies), InsideSales.com has a stake in introducing a lot more female candidates into the talent pool. The company's CMO Mick Hollison says, "From a business standpoint, it's rock solid. We need more coders. It's a huge win for us to instill in the community and ultimately recruit from the seeds we’ve grown."

InsideSales.com also recently partnered with University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University to provide four scholarships for the upcoming school year to students studying computer technology. In addition, scholarship recipients will be given an internship during the summer of 2016, where they will take part in the planning and execution of next year’s Girl’s Coding Camp.

Microsoft

While Girls Who Code is a separate nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors, Microsoft rode its tailcoat to bring the summer camp to Redmond, Washington (Microsoft's headquarters) where over seven weeks, 20 female high school students participated in intensive instruction in robotics, Web design and mobile development.

Along with sponsoring the Girls Who Code camp in Washington and being a strategic partner with The National Center for Women & Information Technology, Microsoft offers its ongoing DigiGirlz High Tech Camp for girls to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry.

While all of these efforts are certainly positive, they may just be a drop in the digital budget, as Microsoft's own diversity numbers are dismal - 76 percent of its overall workforce is male, while only 24 percent is female

Google

Not only supportive of International Women's Day (March 8), Google's Women Techmakers is a global program and brand for women in technology. Led by Women in Technology Advocate Natalie Villalobos and a global team of Googlers, Google's Women Techmakers have a variety of initiatives, including boosting female attendance at the company's I/O event. This CNN article states that Villalobos helped increase the number of female I/O attendees from 16 percent three years ago to 25 percent this year by offering mothering rooms, a new code of conduct and free childcare for all parents.

What's more, Google is a strategic partner with The National Center for Women & Information Technology. It should be noted, however, that in 2015, Google's workplace consists of 70 percent male and 30 percent female (overall), with the technical roles overwhelmingly (82 percent) held by males (compared to 18 percent females). The non-tech roles start to even out (53 percent males and 47 percent females), but leadership roles are once again male dominated (78 percent male to 12 percent female). 

Pinterest

While tech companies like Microsoft and Google are admitting they have a lot of work to do when it comes to diversifying their workplace, Pinterest is publicly sharing its 2016 goals for doing just that. Here's what Evan Sharp wrote in this blog post regarding the news:

"By sharing these goals publicly, we’re holding ourselves accountable to make meaningful changes to how we approach diversity at Pinterest. We’ll also be sharing what’s working and what isn’t as we go, so hopefully other companies can learn along with us. Over time, we hope to help build an industry that is truly diverse, and by extension more inclusive, creative and effective."

Some of Pinterest's initiatives include:

+Increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30 percent female.

+Increase hiring rates for full-time engineers to 8 percent underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

+Increase hiring rates for non-engineering roles to 12 percent underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

+Implement a Rooney Rule-type requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position.

Pinterest plans to achieve these goals by expanding the number of universities it recruits from, provide training for all employees to prevent bias, and support training and mentorship programs. Here is a look at Pinterest's current diversity numbers:

Some of the Rest

While Apple is a lifetime partner of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and its diversity numbers look similar to most tech companies (see image), its new "perk" for coverage of its female employees freezing their eggs comes with mixed reviews.

On one hand, supporters believe this "perk," along with "generous" (by American standards) maternity leave options, are designed to keep women in tech, while proponents believe this could make it an even more hostile workplace for women who do not delay motherhood. There is, of course, health reasons for this procedure and it is a very sensitive and very personal topic for both men and women, but many believe the message Apple and Facebook (which offers this coverage as well) are sending is harmful to women. As Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, wrote here:

"Apple and Facebook's policy could scare women from attempting to advance in their careers if they want to have a family and will not solve the issues we face with workplace gender inequality."

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