Behind the Scenes: A Look at the Creation of Symantec’s Signature CSR Program

Symantec partner YearUp provides urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support to get professional jobs.
Symantec partner YearUp provides urban young adults with the skills, experience and support to get professional jobs.

By Cecily Joseph

At Symantec we’ve been undergoing a transformation in all areas of the company, and this includes our approach to philanthropy.

Given the need for a larger pipeline of skilled workers in the technology sector, we have historically invested the majority of our philanthropic dollars in broad efforts that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. And while we have built strong partnerships with organizations and are collectively making a difference, we saw potential for even greater impact.

We embarked on a journey to find ways that we could make more meaningful social impact. We ended up developing a shared value signature initiative for Symantec. That is, an initiative that not only goes beyond grant-making to leverage our business assets, but that also contributes to our business bottom line and creates societal benefit.

We began by working with both internal and external stakeholders to define what that shared value program would look like. We created an internal steering committee made up of executives from across the company representing technology, educational services, talent acquisition, marketing, government affairs and regional sales groups.  The signature program strategy was guided by key findings from data and research which showed that cybercrime is the most prevalent online threat with over $388 billion in global costs and that there is a shortage of cybersecurity professional who are needed to protect nations, businesses and individuals with global demand expected to grow to 4.9 million jobs by 2017. In the U.S. alone, there are 300,000 cybersecurity jobs that cannot be filled due to lack of trained professionals. Of this, an estimated 20 percent can be filled by people without college degrees.

As the experts in information protection, Symantec set out to launch a first-of-its-kind program to address the global workforce gap in cybersecurity and dedicate our resources to providing new career opportunities for under-served young adults (i.e. returning military veterans, unemployed and underemployed youth especially amongst people of color) who may not be college-bound. And that program came to life this year as the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3).

Demand for cybersecurity professionals is only expected to increase as the private sector faces unprecedented numbers of data breaches and cybersecurity threats. Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report has shown that the amount of data breaches grew by 62 percent in 2013 and that approximately 552 million identities were exposed worldwide as a result of data breaches.

As a leader in cybersecurity we know that by focusing our efforts here, we could make an impact in helping to solve the cyber career gap, moving underserved young adults out of low-end jobs and into highly paid and meaningful careers, and make the world a safer place.

See the SC3 website for complete information.

Image credit: Year Up

Cecily Joseph is Vice President Corporate Responsibility & Chief Diversity Officer at Symantec, where she oversees the implementation of community investment efforts including the focus on STEM and cybersecurity education, manages environmental responsibility and climate change policy, works with management to set and deliver on diversity goals, and oversee the communication of the company’s corporate responsibility strategy, goals and activities (learn more here)

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