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AnitaB.org Awards Given to ThoughtWorks, GEICO, and Accenture

| by Susan McIntosh Follow 7 Followers on Oct 19, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

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Earlier in October, AnitaB.org announced the Top Companies for Women Technologists awards at the Grace Hopper Celebration. Accenture, GEICO and ThoughtWorks were the top recipients in their respective size groups. 

Accenture recently announced its goal of a gender-balance workforce by 2025. The consulting company has published research on ways to close the gender pay gap, such as technology immersion programs, and providing resources for women so they can handle their careers more proactively (as fewer women actively seek raises or promotions). These are similar to methods identified through AnitaB.org's research of their top companies, which include flex-time policies, leadership development, and formal gender diversity training.

GEICO uses a rotation program for both managers and entry-level staff to provide breadth in training, and promotes diversity and inclusion within its corporate culture. They also embrace a promote-from-within culture, and continuing career education with certification classes and user groups.

Rebecca Parsons, CTO of ThoughtWorks, notes that "The issue of equality in the workplace has never been more important" than it is now. The company has many initiatives in place, including hiring practices that look at a broader range of potential candidates (self-taught coders, or people with backgrounds in liberal arts or economics). There is an immersive onboarding program, which supports each new hire to "bring their authentic self to work" by providing extensive opportunities for training, coaching, and reflection. The organization intends to build an environment that supports team-focused creation and delivery, rather than success by an individual hero. In an interview associated with the PR Newswire announcement, Parsons emphasized that, through the continuing work at ThoughtWorks and other organizations, it is imperative to continue to "nurture, educate and empower women technologists." Parsons notes that "this is not the time to be complacent. We are not done yet." And the data in the AnitaB.org research proves this. Among the leaders in the 63 companies surveyed, almost 62% have a formal policy requiring pay equity, compared to 47% last year.

When asked about why diversity in IT is important, Dr. Parsons identified three reasons: a reduction in unconscious bias, a longer-term focus within teams, and larger employment pool. "When we design products... we bring our biases with us," perpetuated in items that fit men's hand dimensions better than women's, or products that are designed to appeal to men, even though women tend to make more buying decisions. Parsons also has experienced greater long-term success with more diverse teams, as that diversity results in more focus on longer-term goals like code quality, rather than short-term wins such as output. She also notes that, "In an industry with an increasing shortage of talent, why on earth would we exclude huge portions of the population by perpetuating an exclusive environment?"

Dr. Parsons offers three tips to anyone seeking a career in IT:

  1. You're not weird; you've simply found your passion. 
  2. Keep learning. Stay current in your areas of interest, with a broad overview and deep dives when needed.
  3. Ask for what you want. Otherwise, people won't know.

She closes with this message: "We need organizations to be courageous enough to promote those who are qualified and deserving, and we need individuals to be curious enough to learn more about the IT industry when they are first starting off."

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