Introduction and Executive Summary
The Women Business Collaborative is pleased to release Women Corporate Tech Executives in America, an unprecedented analysis of women C-Suite leaders in major companies.
The report could not be more timely.
Technology and its skyrocketing impact on the American corporate landscape is the perfect example of both opportunity and threat. Tech is the engine driving businesses, public and private, large and small, and is at the heart of all industries improving access to information, customer service and efficiency. Tech also brings with it unprecedented concerns about security, privacy, unethical practices, and solutions that may not address the problems of diverse and underserved populations. Both the advantages and the dangers of tech have price tags in the trillions of dollars, requiring a blend of tried-and-true skills and innovative approaches to drive business growth.
Especially crucial in this environment of burgeoning technology is the need at the C-Suite level for high-powered tech leaders, with special emphasis on increased representation by tech savvy women. As shown across C-Suite disciplines, diverse perspectives are critical to business performance and cutting-edge strategic planning. This growing need for equity and diversity at the C-Suite level calls for new and improved tech pathways for talented women. Zeroing in on the specifics of these roles, on pathways to reaching them, and on effective solutions is the driving force behind Women Corporate Tech Executives in America, a new ground-breaking report from the Women Business Collaborative (WBC).
An Unprecedented Study
To get a clear picture of women in top IT roles, WBC pinpointed the number of women currently holding 12 C-Suite level technology positions in major corporations across 5,008 public and private companies. We analyzed data from the Fortune 500, the S&P 500, the Russell 3000 and indices which provided information on private companies with revenue of at least $1 billion dollars.
While there are tech leadership positions outside the C-Suite, this first tech report looks exclusively at the C-Suite level where there is more comparable data and more similarity across positions. Future reports will look at tech leadership and representation by women in tech leadership positions throughout organizational levels.
The data is interesting not only in terms of what positions women occupy but also in terms of the roles themselves and how many companies have tech roles in the C-Suite. Tech leadership positions offer opportunities to rise into the C-Suite and yet are not prevalent across all companies. Some of the roles, like Chief Technology Officer or Chief Data Scientist, are few and far between. Only one company in the Fortune 500 has a Chief Data Science Officer. It is important to note because expanding these roles can expand the opportunities for women in the C-Suite.
Finally, this report is the result of a collaborative effort of 13 corporate sponsors and 11 organizations focused on women’s leadership in technology. We pooled data to develop an in-depth analysis and gathered insights to form a framework for recommendations on how to drive diversity in tech leadership positions across industries.
Major Findings at a Glance
The numbers tell a story, but only part of the story.
The shortage of women in C-Suite tech positions goes well beyond the numbers and is fueled by both organizational and societal barriers that stand in the way of women aspiring to tech leadership roles. These roadblocks include:
- Corporate cultures continue to harbor unconscious (and sometimes conscious) bias towards women looking to high-level careers in tech.
Failure of corporations to aggressively encourage and retain women in tech at all levels is a stumbling block to the C-Suite.
- Boards are only recently understanding the ever-growing need for tech-savvy C-Suites…and tech-savvy boards.
Women themselves and corporate leaders have not yet sufficiently embraced creating alternate pathways to top careers in tech.
- There continues to be a sense at home and at school, especially towards racially and ethnically diverse children, that “tech isn’t for girls,” significantly contributing to the low number of racially and ethnically diverse women.
- A high “dropout rate” from tech both at the college level and at early career levels is causing an anemic pipeline of talented women.
Perspectives from the Experts
We believe that the facts and findings offered here are a starting point for discussing the current situation, the specifics of where change needs to happen, and action steps to populate the C-Suite with more tech-savvy women.
Integral to Women Corporate Tech Executives in America, is a focus on the perspectives and viewpoints of high-level experts in the tech
field. These experts, from a cross section of industries, share their analysis and solutions on a variety of tech-related issues, often outlining how women can become a more visible and vocal part of tech at its highest levels.
Major players in the tech industry provide their perspectives on specific tech-related issues from retention strategies to cybersecurity. This section, comprising 11 insights, is a “boots on the ground” look at challenges, opportunities and solutions.
CLOSEUPS OF WOMEN TECH LEADERS
Women Corporate Tech Executives in America is punctuated with quotes, insights and suggestions based on responses from some of the nation’s top women tech leaders. They focus on their career trajectory, the challenges of their current C-Suite roles and how they perceive the future of tech, in general and for future women leaders.
Targets and Strategies
The WBC believes that data is the starting point for action and allows for an organized and fact-based approach to change. Based on the data uncovered for this report, the WBC is working with its partners and with leaders nationwide to achieve the following goals:
- Increase the representation of women in C-Suite technology positions (CIO, CTO, CISO, CDO) by 3% by 2025, 4% of which are women of color
- Ensure that women constitute 35% of all leadership positions by 2025, 15% of which are women of color
- By 2030, decrease the resignation rate of women in the tech sector by 50%
- Dramatically improve the numbers of Black and Latina women at the C-Suite, on the board and at all levels. By 2030 ensure that 10% of all women in the C-Suite are women of color
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
- Ensure CEOs are committed to diversity in top tech positions and that they spearhead that commitment across the organization by providing DEI information and by requiring metrics for tracking and accountability.
- Organizations and companies take needed steps to keep early career women in the field with emphasis on mentoring and sponsoring by high-level tech leaders.
- Create a culture of accountability by calling for transparent data on talent, and metrics for ensuring equal access to information, opportunities, and pathways.
- Encourage high schools, colleges, and universities to provide curricula, guidance and mentorship specifically geared to young women so they espouse, rather than shun, careers in STEM.
- Continue to analyze the number of women in tech at all corporate levels and across a wide spectrum of industries.
- Keep attention focused on the status of women in tech through various initiatives including reports, webinars and blogs.
An Ever-Growing Collaboration in Tech and Beyond
This report is the result of tireless efforts by a collaboration of individuals and corporations in the tech industry, as well as other sectors. It is an example of the benefits of coming together with purpose for positive change. WBC is especially grateful to our Data and Steering Committees and to our corporate sponsors and partners. Together, we are committed to making this report and future initiatives valuable resources for attracting, retaining and promoting talented women in tech.