Recently, Thomson Reuters broke into the Anita Borg Institute’s (ABI) 2016 Top Companies for Women Technologists Leadership Index. This annual benchmark, launched six years ago, identifies organizations across the U.S. who are leaders in recruiting, retaining and advancing women in technical roles.
For us, the ABI recognition is cause for celebration but also a milestone on a long journey. The journey towards gender equity is very similar to an aerobatics flight – sometimes upside down, sometimes through turbulence, and sometimes forcing us to alter the flight plan while continuing to work together.
Our journey to the ABI’s Leadership Index
At Thomson Reuters, we work hard to ensure that the talent pool we have access to reflects the diversity of the communities we live and work in. And this commitment comes from the highest levels. In 2013, our CEO Jim Smith and Chief People Officer Peter Warwick kicked off the Women’s Advisory Taskforce to focus on women’s progression at Thomson Reuters.
That same year, we launched our Technology Diversity Champions, a coalition of technology employees which has since advocated for and helped launch several programs, including coaching, mentoring and sponsorship programs. A prime example has been Leadhership1, a program designed to engage and retain rising women technologists in the company. In addition, the champions have worked to change recruiting processes by researching best practices and developing gender-neutral job description guidelines for technology roles that are advertised by our company.
We also partner with leading bodies like the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) as a means to invest in our women technologists. As platinum sponsors of this year’s ABI’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, we’ll have over 100 Thomson Reuters colleagues from seven countries join the best minds in computing, from Oct. 19 – 21 in Houston, US.
A combination of leadership commitment with thoughtful and effective programs developed by employees in partnership with industry-leading researchers has helped us arrive at 27% women in our technology workforce. While that may be at the top of the industry, is that enough?
In the U.S., on an average, women constitute only 21% of the technology workforce. But technology is ubiquitous — more than three quarters (76 percent) of the ABI’s Leadership Index is made up of non-technology companies. If technology is all-pervasive, then the workforce creating and powering that technology must also be a true representation of our world.
What is especially worrying is the lack of senior female representation, especially in the fields of engineering and technology – senior-level women are at about 18% of the technology workforce in the U.S. and executive-level women are at 14%. While my colleague, Debra Walton, Chief Product and Content Officer, Financial & Risk, works to change this by asking women of all ages to encourage their peers to take an active interest in the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), I advocate for a strong dose of “gender partnership.”
If we are to achieve accurate representation of women in the technology workforce, men must become strong allies. Recent research we partnered on with ABI shows that greater gender equity leads to more innovation, higher earnings, happier employees and happier customers, benefiting both men and women.
At the Davos World Economic Forum in January this year, the head of our company’s Foundation, Monique Villa, cited a powerful statistic: “Companies with a strong track record of gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher earnings than their peers.” Data from our new financial index, launched last month, reaffirms that the most diverse and inclusive global businesses often outperform peers. As a publicly-listed company, we owe it to our shareholders to perform well. What better way to make sure we do that than by staying sharply focused on acquiring, retaining and developing talent that brings in diverse perspectives and helps us innovate?