Key to Sustaining Women in Tech: Reset Your Culture

The proportion of women to men in tech roles has declined by three percentage points (from 35 to 32%) since 1984*. Today, women hold just 16% of engineering roles and 27% of computing roles in companies in the US**. These are startling facts, especially when jobs are increasingly becoming technology roles. We wanted to dig into why women abandon careers in technology. Today we’re revealing new research with Girls Who Code that shows that inclusive culture creates the best conditions for women to stay and advance in technology, and it outlines specific actions leaders must take starting now.

I joined the board of Girls Who Code in 2016 because I’m deeply committed to advancing equality and inclusion in technology. Since joining, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with this international non-profit organization that works tirelessly to close the gender gap in technology.

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Accenture and Girls Who Code are proud to release a joint research report, Resetting Tech Culture, that explores how women in colleges and early careers are faring in technology – and how we can improve their experiences.

Our research surveyed 2,700 college students, 500 senior human resource leaders in companies employing people in tech roles in the US, and 1,990 employees working (or who previously worked) in a tech role. We found that the number one reason women leave tech jobs is company culture, with 37% of survey respondents citing it.  

Most notably, there is a significant disconnect between what women experience in their roles and what senior HR leaders believe about their organizations’ culture. While 45% of senior HR leaders say that it is easy for women to thrive in technology, only 21% of women agree, and that falls to just 8% for women of color. Meanwhile, only 38% of senior HR leaders think building a more inclusive culture is an effective way to retain and advance women in tech roles.

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The good news is our analysis shows a widespread cultural reset could reduce the annual attrition rate of women in tech by as much as 70%. That could mean almost 3 million young women working in tech in 2030.

The time to act is now, and our report outlines how. Just think, if we had a US-wide adoption of the following 5 cultural practices, we could help retain 1.4 million young women in tech roles by 2030:

1.  Make it a metric: Set external goals and targets to increase diversity and hold leaders accountable. We’ve done this at Accenture: we have committed to a gender-balanced workforce by 2025. Today, 45 percent of our global workforce are women and 36 percent of our board of directors are women.

2.  Promote equal parenting: Encourage all parents to take leave and make sure they see senior leaders doing the same.

3.  Send reinforcements: Provide women with targeted workplace support including mentors, sponsors and employee resource networks.

4.  Encode creativity: Reward employees for creativity and innovation as many women who enter technology seek fulfillment and to make a difference in the world.

5.  Provide inclusive networking: Schedule opportunities to promote networking with colleagues and senior leaders when everyone can join.

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It takes bold leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment that values both respect and autonomy. I invite business and technology leaders to join me and Accenture in prioritizing building an inclusive culture that attracts and retains more women in technology. Read the report, take action and let’s create a better future for us all — in technology and across society.

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