When it comes to retention it’s the culture that is key for women who are working in technology, according to a research report conducted by Accenture and Girls Who Code.
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%.
There is a significant disconnect between HR leaders’ expectations of their organization’s culture and what women employees actually experience in their roles, the report concludes. 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.”
Creating an inclusive culture is the starting point for keeping women in technology, explains Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “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 Saujani.
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