The Rebooting Representation report is an original research effort drawing on insights from 32 leading tech companies representing nearly $500 billion in annual revenue and over $500 million in annual philanthropic giving, as well as 100 of the sector’s top executives and experts. Authored by McKinsey & Company and Pivotal Ventures, the report focuses specifically on understanding how companies approach gender diversity using corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility giving. These are significant resources tech companies could spend alongside their internal efforts to close the gender gap.
Women are chronically underrepresented in tech
Women – and particularly women of color – are chronically underrepresented in tech.
The situation is even more alarming for Black, Latina, and Native American women. Today, Black, Latina, and Native American women make up just 4% of the computing workforce – and things are getting worse, not better.
Roles in Computing Workforce:
3% Black Women
1% Latina Women
Not only are diverse teams on average more creative and innovative, but they are ultimately more profitable.
Tech’s lack of diversity comes at a high cost
Despite the growing number of voices pushing for gender equality, and many tech companies stating diversity is a priority, we are not yet seeing concrete gains.
Women’s underrepresentation carries a major cost for women, companies, and the entire tech sector. Diverse teams are more creative, innovative, and ultimately more profitable. The connection between gender diversity and financial performance is clear across sectors and geographies. Tech is no different.
If tech companies support avenues for women to pursue careers in technology, particularly women of color who face the greatest barriers, the industry will benefit from a broader talent pool and realize new economic opportunities.
Tech companies’ CSR and philanthropic investments are a powerful but underutilized tool
Tech companies currently use their HR and diversity and inclusion initiatives to increase their gender diversity, and expanding their focus to increase the number of women and girls pursuing computing education in the first place could make a dramatic difference.
Companies can use CSR and philanthropic initiatives to actively involve more women in tech today, expanding the talent pool they will recruit from tomorrow. We surveyed 32 leading tech companies representing nearly $500 billion in revenue to understand how companies have used their CSR and philanthropy to create pathways for women into tech.
What We Found
"People want to have the conversation on women in tech so badly they’ll show up in a snow storm."
Former Senior Vice President and Chief Responsibility Officer
What works for women & girls in tech
Knowing what works in increasing the number of women studying computing and entering the industry will help companies invest in ways that deliver results for women and girls. This report distills evidence from across the field to identify the approaches showing the most promising results:
Focus on women and girls
Maintaining a focus on women’s equal representation, with stated goals at the program level, is the only way to avoid replicating the same gender ratios we see in tech today.
Solve for those facing the most barriers—underrepresented women and girls of color.
Companies can support strategies that attend to the specific challenges faced by women who experience multiple forms of marginalization based on their identities and backgrounds. Focusing on the experiences of those who face the greatest number of barriers will spur solutions that ultimately improve the inclusivity of the tech sector for all underrepresented groups.
It’s never too late; consider multiple on-ramps
Girls and women can begin their journey into tech at many different points in their lives. Because girls are less likely than boys to have previous exposure to computing as children, later on-ramps—such as those during higher education—are a high-impact opportunity to make up lost ground by involving women and girls with minimal previous exposure to computing.
Deliver eight critical building blocks for success
The evidence base points to eight components that programs need to incorporate to empower women and girls to succeed in tech. Tech companies should work with their partners to ensure these success factors are in place to maximize the impact of their investments.
High-impact action opportunities for companies to move the needle on gender diversity
Choosing a strategic focus that reflects the company’s unique DNA helps companies allocate resources most effectively to deliver on their ultimate objectives. This research identified five high-impact opportunities for company action based on the evidence of what works and what’s needed most to foster gender diversity in tech.
Five high-impact opportunities
How individual companies can deliver on their philanthropy & CSR strategies
Today, many companies are hampered by the difficulties of coordinating across a disconnected set of initiatives and stakeholders working on various aspects of this issue from within HR, D&I, CSR, corporate philanthropy, and business units. It doesn’t have to be this way:
- Unite all the company’s activities and initiatives under an overarching strategy for gender diversity in tech. By bringing together the relevant players, companies can link up internal and external-facing efforts to deliver on a cohesive strategy.
- Designate a senior executive sponsor to coordinate the company’s comprehensive gender-diversity strategy across internal and external functions. Given the number of stakeholders involved, tech companies rarely have a single person connecting the dots on gender diversity. By designating a sponsor, companies will ensure there’s accountability for delivering results.
- Measure the impact of CSR and philanthropic efforts with the same rigor applied to the company’s business. Today companies don’t have systems in place to capture data on what’s working. By tracking both short-term performance management indicators and long-term impact metrics, companies will have a data-driven guide to scaling up what works.
Changing the future through collective action
If tech as a sector can translate the energy around gender diversity into collective, sector-wide action, it will move beyond incremental improvement to significantly transform the face of the industry. Partnership is the most powerful tool to get concrete results in a short time because it:
- Allows companies to do things none of them could do individually by pooling resources and rapidly scaling what works
- Brings each company’s unique capabilities to the table and connects them to solve the larger puzzle
- Amplifies the power of companies’ voices by banding them together as a sector