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Gender parity

On attracting and advancing women in technology

Published on by Joyce Shen

I had the opportunity to join my colleagues in technology to honor Rick King at the Guys Who Get It Awards in San Francisco in January and had a chance to talk with Rick as we commemorate International Women’s Day. As one of the very few women executives in the industry leading emerging technology practice and strategic startup investments in a global multi-billion revenue company, I am incredibly proud of the work that Rick has championed and of Thomson Reuters.

Rick, EVP and CIO of Thomson Reuters, is a long time advocate for diversity, inclusion, and gender equality in technology functions and beyond. Under his leadership and call for action across the enterprise, Thomson Reuters has implemented a number of programs throughout the organization over the years. As a result, Thomson Reuters has one of the highest ratios of women in technology, and Rick is recognized in the firm’s effort in recruiting, retaining and advancing women in technology and its effort in helping wider communities from London to Eagan to New York to build future pipeline of girls in STEM. He also takes an active role in bringing learning and best practices from Thomson Reuters to the broader technology industry.

Joyce: Can you describe a few of the key programs that you implemented and sponsored that helped move the needle at Thomson Reuters?

Rick: I am proud to be a sponsor of our Technology Diversity group.

Our long-term strategy is to encourage leadership development for female employees and create a rate of progression that benefits both them and the company.

Ultimately, we are determined to become a best place to work for women in the information services industry. One of the keys to our success has been to find a few things that really work and stick with them.

In 2010, we kicked off a program called Leadhership1, which offers female Technologists a variety of opportunities to develop leadership skills and has proven to engage and retain rising women technologists within the company. Participants in the six-month program complete 40 online coaching sessions to build their leadership abilities and confidence. The program also involves video-aided and face-to-face meetings, and gives participants access to a private online community where they can share their experiences, best practices and other resources, and provide individual coaching.

We’ve had over 370 women go through the program to date. The numbers speak for themselves with a 96% participant satisfaction rating, a 48% increase in the strength of their network, a 38% increase in confidence regarding career goals, a 12% increase in promotions and 4% better retention of attendees.

Joyce: You said that you were accepting the award on behalf of Thomson Reuters. What are key successful factors or lessons learned that you believe helped accelerate our efforts in attracting, retaining, and advancing qualified women in technology?

Rick: Gender equity and diversity initiatives need to be grounded in company culture and values. In addition to what we’ve done in Technology, like partnering with the Anita Borg Institute to sponsor the Grace Hopper Conference – the largest gathering of women in technology in the world – and we are working with them on industry leading research as well. In addition, the Thomson Reuters Foundation is helping create a world where all women can be leaders, and our annual Trust Women conference brings leaders together to find ways to empower women and fight modern-day slavery worldwide.

Joyce: What would you like to see more from all of us and other companies?

Rick: When I started my career as a teacher and coach in Vermont, the system was designed in a way that was unequal. We’ve made so much progress since then but there is still much more to do. The range of women in the technical workforce at leading technology companies is around 10%-27% and for total workforce, it was 29%-42%. We’re proud to be at the top of both of those categories at 27% and 42%.

That’s not good enough though – It takes ongoing commitment to make a difference in gender equity and has to include cultural and programmatic solutions. If we all work together as change-makers and allies, the current challenges of gender equity could be nothing more than a topic that is studied in the history books for my one-year-old granddaughter.

Joyce:  What advice would you give to women as they think about careers in technology?

Rick: You have to follow your passions – I am a big aviation buff and one piece of career advice that I like to share is to have a flight plan – a goal. But you also have to be prepared for layovers and turbulence so find some trusted advisors and mentors – like air traffic control – that can help you along the way. One final thing is that because technology is changing so much, you have to be comfortable creating opportunities and being open to charting a new course – like Amelia Earhart.


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