An inclusive culture is key to unlocking opportunities for women who are studying and working in technology, and holds the potential to double their number over the next 10 years, according to a joint research report by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Girls Who Code, an international nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology.
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Accenture and Girls Who Code outline how much cultural practices can boost women in technology (Photo: Business Wire)
The report, “Resetting Tech Culture,” analyzed the journey for women in technology from college to mid-career. While there are many reasons women abandon a career in technology, the highest percentage of respondents — 37% — cite company culture as the leading cause.
The research shows that if every company scored high on measures of an inclusive culture — specifically if they were on par with those in the top 20% of the study — the annual attrition rate of women in technology would drop 70%. The report provides tangible steps for organizations to undertake a cultural reset that could have a far-reaching positive effect.
Most notably, there is a significant disconnect between HR leaders’ expectations of their organization’s culture and what women employees actually experience in their roles. While 45% of senior HR leaders say that it is easy for women to thrive in technology, only 21% of women agree, and that number falls to just 8% for women of color. Meanwhile, only 38% of senior HR leaders identify building a more inclusive culture as an effective means to retain and advance women in technology roles.
“Our research over the past three years identifies three key factors for an inclusive culture: bold leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment. The stronger the focus in these areas, the more likely women are to thrive,” said Kathryn Ross, global Open Innovation lead and the Black Founders Development Program lead for Accenture Ventures. “Creating inclusive colleges and organizations is a winning strategy to improve women’s retention and advancement in technology and for the economy at large.”
“Girls Who Code has 80,000 college-aged alumni, and more on the way who will be entering the tech workforce in the coming years. We’re committed to making sure they are set up for success,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “Thanks to this partnership with Accenture, we’re able to provide companies and colleges with concrete steps to retain and advance women in technology. And it all starts with creating an inclusive culture.”
A nationwide adoption of five cultural practices could help retain 1.4 million young women in technology roles by 2030, which include:
- Make it a metric: Set external goals and targets to increase diversity and hold leaders accountable
- Promote equal parenting: Encourage all parents to take leave and make sure they see senior leaders doing the same
- Send reinforcements: Provide women with targeted workplace support including mentors, sponsors and employee resource networks
- Encode creativity: Reward employees for creativity and innovation as many women who enter technology seek fulfillment and to make a difference in the world
- Provide inclusive networking: Schedule opportunities to promote networking with colleagues and senior leaders when everyone can join
The results are based on three online surveys combined with Accenture’s inclusive workplace culture model. The surveys were conducted online between February and July 2019 and cover three distinct groups across the United States: 1,990 tech employees; 500 senior HR leaders in companies employing people in technology roles; and 2,700 college students.
About Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code is an international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology, and leading the movement to inspire, educate and equip young women with the computing skills needed to pursue 21st century opportunities. Since launching in 2012, Girls Who Code has reached 500 million people through its work and 300,000 girls through its in-person programming. College-aged alumni of Girls Who Code are declaring majors in computer science and related fields at 15 times the U.S. average. In 2019, the organization was named the #1 Most Innovative Non-Profit on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list. Follow the organization on social media @GirlsWhoCode.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. We combine unmatched experience and specialized capabilities across more than 40 industries — powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. With 506,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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