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Why Diversity is a Business Imperative

3p Contributor | Thursday July 14th, 2011 | 1 Comment

This post is part of a series on Stakeholder Engagement sponsored by Jurat Software.

By: Cecily Joseph, Sr. Director, Corporate Responsibility & Compliance, Symantec

As a leading company in data and internet security, Symantec must constantly innovate and evolve to predict and address on-line threats as well as keeping pace with our customers as they push the envelope of what is possible through technology.

At Symantec, we recognized years ago that the relationship between innovation and diversity is a business imperative. It’s also the premise for some of our most successful stakeholder engagement.

To understand diversity at Symantec, we need to review a few core premises:

  1. New ideas that generate new innovations are not only the result of differences in skin color. To foster new and better ideas requires fostering all of those differences that make us each unique individuals – whether it is race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural heritage, age, religious beliefs, etc.
  2. Fostering a diverse set of individuals is only the first step. Greater innovation requires that we learn to listen and understand ideas in broader context so that we can recognize and apply better solutions.
  3. Our innovation does not end at the doors of the Symantec office, and neither should our pursuit of diversity. We must think outside of the ‘box’ and seek ways to promote diversity and opportunity to our customers, suppliers and communities.

In the ICT sector, there is a particular challenge to recruit and retain women in technical roles. Last year, the National Center for Women and Information Technology reported that 56% of women leave the technology field mid-career, over double the rate for men. Technical and leadership roles are comprised of roughly 25% women throughout the sector.

Our approach to the challenge has been to engage our employees, value chain and communities to promote gender diversity in technical roles while at the same time, engaging with advocacy and specialist organizations to promote the impact that gender diversity can have within Symantec.

Some of our engagement practices and results are:

  • In 2007, Symantec adopted the Calvert Women’s Principle and in 2010, Symantec’s CEO signed a statement in support of the United Nations Development Fund for Women’s (UNIFEM) “Womens Empowerment Principles: We Mean Business”. In alignment with these commitments, we have worked with Calvert, Verité, the City of San Francisco and 16 other prominent San Francisco Bay Area companies to develop the Gender Equality Principles (GEP) – a set of principles based on the Calvert Women’s Principles, but adapted to address local realities and broader context. The GEP are specifically designed to both increase gender diversity and to increase the impact of that women have in the workplace.
  • Symantec has been an active supporter of the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology. In fact, our Chief Technology Officer sits on the Board of Trustees for the Institute. The Institute is focused on increasing the impact of women in technology and to increase the positive impact of technology on women around the world.
  • Symantec now has eleven chapters of the Symantec Women’s Action Network (SWAN) representing over 1,350 members. SWAN promotes career progression for women in the company through personal and professional networking. SWAN is also a means for Symantec women to connect with the community to empower girls interested in technology. SWAN members have participated in third-party organized events to support girls in technology in California, Minnesota, Florida and Poland.
  • Symantec has also expanded its engagement with Catalyst – a nonprofit organization working to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. Symantec works with Catalyst India and has participated in the first Catalyst Benchmark Survey of Women in India. The results will be used by Symantec to identify best practices for growing women’s roles and opportunities in India.
  • Combined, these efforts represent a strategic approach to stakeholder engagement: to address the root cause (lack of women in technical roles) and value to the business (impact of gender diversity on innovation). Our goal is to drive systematic change within our company, with our partners and with our communities.

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  • Matt Schnackenberg

    Funny how this article is about one of the worst offenders in ethical computer protection software there, of course the other is McAfee. They might paint a pretty picture one way, but inventing false-positives so it makes a less seasoned PC user think they are infected and must always pay for the next edition of their horrid excuse of an anti-virus software is probably one of the most underhanded tricks in the PC industry.