Diversity in Tech: A Cause Everyone Owns

Earlier this month community members packed the auditorium at Symantec headquarters to watch a special screening of the documentary “CODEGIRL.” The film follows teams of girls from around the world as they compete to win the Technovation Challenge, an international mobile app competition that empowers young women to solve an issue in their community by creating an app, learning to code, and developing a business plan.

Programs like Technovation and documentaries like “CODEGIRL” are extremely important because they seek to expose and expunge a lingering problem in the tech industry: the lack of diversity in the workforce. The industry is flourishing. New startups are launching, Fortune 500 leaders are hiring, and innovation is off the charts. Yet despite this incredible growth, women and minorities are immensely underrepresented. Only 11 percent of the workforce is female; only four percent is black; and only five percent is Hispanic. This is clearly not acceptable nor is it sustainable as the competition for talent and the need for constant innovation continues to rise.

We are living and working in a global economy. To be well positioned for success, your workforce should resemble your customer base and your community as a whole. At Symantec, we believe that we can make the world a safer place through cybersecurity. We work hard to meet the needs of our customers and design the solutions that make their lives easier and more secure. And diversity is critical to our success.

Our global customer base includes many different viewpoints, and to truly represent them, we need a variety of thoughts and ideas as well. We are proud to field a workforce that is as diverse in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and language, as they are skilled at coding, development, engineering, and customer service.

That’s why we embedded a commitment to diversity into our corporate values. We defined the business case, built a strategy with clear goals and targets around the programs that we wanted to implement, and set up transparent reporting guidelines to measure the impact we’re having on our organization and society as a whole. Our goals range from having females make up at least 30 percent of our leadership team (we’re currently at 26 percent), to increasing diversity across the company by 15 percent in the next five years, to building development programs to increase our leadership pipeline with our diverse employees.

But most importantly, we purposely designed programs that could be integrated into the fabric of our company, ensuring leaders, managers, and employees—regardless of job title—all have a stake in meeting our diversity goals.

We created groups to help employees connect based on their shared backgrounds. These include the Symantec Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Hispanic Outreach and Leadership Affinity (HOLA), Symantec Black Employees Network (SBEN), SymPride supporting the LGBT community, and the Symantec Armed Forces group. We also are an active participant and sponsor in programs such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world's largest conference for women in tech, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality.

The emphasis on diversity has spread throughout our company. Employees are empowered to work directly with nonprofits, educators, and other organizations, introducing students to the technology and cybersecurity fields. In addition, our signature program, the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3), is in its second year training under-represented young adults—including people of color, women, and veterans—for entry-level careers in cybersecurity. Today many SC3 graduates who had never considered careers in cybersecurity now have Network+ and Security+ certifications, and full time employment at major companies.

Symantec’s goal is to be just as diverse as the world we live in – and we want to empower every employee across the globe to own this goal and drive progress. As we wrap up 2015 and look ahead to the New Year, we look forward to hearing many more stories about how our employees are embracing diversity, and how with this diversity we are better serving our customer and finding new ways to introduce others into the technology industry.

You can learn more about Symantec’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts on our website.

Purpose@Work is a new series of discussions designed to explore how we can infuse a deep sense of purpose into our work - through our organizations, our people, and our impact in society.

How are you taking purpose to the next level in your workplace? Let us know at PurposePlusProfit@huffingtonpost.com or by tweeting with #PurposeAtWork.

CONVERSATIONS