Strong hiring and retention policies define these 12 tech companies that have the best gender balance policies. Ranging from scaled (Salesforce) to small (Bumble), these companies have clearly-defined goals to reach 50% women employees or more in the near future. These companies prove that women can lead, contribute and innovate in the tech world.
Whitney Wolfe Herd founded Bumble, the dating app where women make the first move, after co-founding and leaving Tinder. Today at Bumble, where 85% of the employees and 80% of the executive team are women, Wolfe Herd is proving that putting women in charge of decisions from the bedroom to the boardroom pays off. In the first quarter of 2019, Bumble generated $37 million in revenue from the App Store and Google Play, coming in second only behind Tinder in dating apps, with more than 70% year-over-year growth compared to Tinder’s 10%.
The company offers flexibility for all employees, generous parental leave policies, and fully funded healthcare. Wolfe Herd also instituted a semi-annual review with a mandatory open discussion of salary. She said, “I’ve always wanted women to go after the money they deserve.” It’s an attitude that matches Bumble’s motto: “Women make the first move.”
Genetech, the biotechnology company, employs more than 13,000 people and has a strong track record of gender balance. 54% of its employees are women, 41% of its executives are women, and 51% of its mid-level managers are women.
The company emphasizes that a commitment to diversity must come from both top down, as well as bottom up. Alexander Hardy, the CEO of Genetech, says, “We drive innovation when we all contribute to an inclusive culture that attracts a diverse group of the best and the brightest talent, and inspires everyone to freely contribute to their maximum potential.” The company has a six-point plan for gender balance. The plan includes merit- and performance-based systems to ensure equity, career and work flexibility to retain employees, as well as visible senior leadership support.
At 23andMe, the consumer DNA testing company, commitment to gender balance comes from the top: Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO, is one of the few women to start and lead a major tech company.
The company has a true gender balance, with a 51% women to 49% men employee split. 42% of the leaders, at director-level and above, are women. Unlike other firms where women are often walled-off into non-STEM departments, 23andMe’s STEM employees are 43% women.
The company continues its commitment to retaining employees with policies that go beyond just hiring. 23andMe offers 16 weeks paid maternity and paternity leave for any new parent, including employees who become parents through adoption and surrogacy. The company also offers regular salary reviews to ensure that there is no gender pay gap.
Ultimate Software was started in 1990 with two men and two women, to create software for the HR and payroll industries. In the intervening two decades, the company has retained that founding gender balance. Today, it has grown to 4,448 employees.
Vivian Maza, the Chief Culture Officer, and one of those four original employees at Ultimate Software, focuses on preserving and developing the company’s “People First” culture as a fitting mantra for an HR tech company. The company funds 100% of healthcare premiums for employees and their families, including coverage for IVF treatment and transgender reassignment. Starting in 2019, the company also provides up to $10,000 in financial assistance for families going through the adoption process.
Etsy, the online marketplace for indie makers and crafters, is a juggernaut in its vertical. 87% of Etsy storefronts are owned by women entrepreneurs. Etsy is not just a tech company, it’s also a platform for women-owned small businesses. Etsy found that 97% of Etsy sellers work from home and 80% of the sellers are a business of one.
On the corporate side, women make up 56% of the overall employee workforce at Etsy. Women comprise 33% of the company’s engineers, as well as 52% of all leaders, director-level and above. Since 2016, the company offers 26 weeks of parental paid leave. Chad Dickerson, Etsy CEO, said about the five weeks of leave he took when he and his wife adopted his son that “It was the most important way I could have spent that time. Building a company is a team effort that includes the immense support we get from our families.”
Pinterest quickly became a verb after its launch in 2010, with its 250 million users “pinning” ideas every month. The company is the fourth most popular social media app, ahead of Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Pinterest has close to gender balance, with 47% of employees being women, including 30% of its engineers. The company aims for continual improvement and re-thinking of traditional hiring practices. For example, Diversity Chief Candice Morgan explained that Pinterest’s women senior engineers voiced a concern about the push to hire women engineers just to bump up the tech employee ratio: “We don’t want to create this stigma where we really skew the ratio of women engineers toward junior engineers. That’s not helpful for us and that doesn’t help us create more role models.” The company listened and focused on hiring senior engineering women, including Pinterest’s head of engineering, Li Fan.
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, the social media site for professional connections, in 2016. Both LinkedIn and Microsoft have publicly released their data on diversity each year to hold themselves accountable. LinkedIn’s Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Rosanna Durruthy, says “We’ve made diversity, inclusion and belonging our number one priority when it comes to the talent at LinkedIn.”
Currently, LinkedIn has 42.9% female employees, with 21.8% of tech employees and 39.1% of employees in leadership roles identifying as women. The company has also partnered with different organizations to widen the pipeline of future employees, with an emphasis on intersectionality. LinkedIn has worked with Melinda Gates and Pivotal Ventures to promote STEM education to young women of color.
Intuit, the software company behind TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint, actively tracks its employee demographics. Intuit consistently strives to increase, retain and promote women and people of color among its workforce.
Women comprise 39% of Intuit’s global workforce, and 41% in the United States, as well as 31% of the company’s executives. In 2017, in the United States, Intuit’s women reached pay parity with the men. There was a slight drop in 2018, with women earning on average 99.4 cents for every $1 men earn. It’s also worth noting that a woman, Chief Technology Officer Marianna Tessel, leads Intuit’s engineering teams.
Twilio, a communications tech company, currently has 33% women employees. The company aims to have the percentage grow every year and to continue a discussion about promoting diversity. When the company was founded in 2008, there was no diversity plan. Eventually CEO and co-founder Jeff Lawson said, “It dawned on me, when will it be a good time to pay attention to diversity? When I have 1,000 white male engineers?”
Today, Twilio has a plan to reach gender parity in its workforce, as well as having 30% of the employees be black, Latinix, two or more races, Pacific Islander or Native, and LGTBQ+ by 2023. More broadly, the company also is aiming that 100% of its employees feel like they belong.
In October 2018, software company Adobe announced that it had achieved gender pay parity in all of its global offices. The company also ensures pay parity between white and non-white employees.
Overall, the company has 32% women employees, with 24% in technical roles and 24% in leadership roles. Katie Juran, Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Adobe, said “Diversity and inclusion can move an entire organization forward while touching each individual in a meaningful and personal way.” The company strives to make sure men are also using the family flexibility offered by the company, to encourage an equal balance in the mental and physical work of caring for a family. The message is working: In 2018, more men than women took parental leave at Adobe.
Salesforce, which focuses on customer relationship management software, is serious about gender balance in the workplace. The company is transparent about its efforts—where it has improved, as well as acknowledging where it has fallen short.
At the end of 2018, Salesforce had 31.6% women employees, with 22% women tech employees. Women also make up 22.3% of its leadership team. These numbers are far from gender parity. However, Salesforce has distinguished itself by putting together an ambitious plan to improve gender balance. The plan includes inclusive hiring and leadership programs, allyship initiatives and fair promotion paths.
Tony Prophet, who leads Salesforce’s Equity Initiatives, referenced a saying in a blog post: “People go where they are invited but they stay where they are welcome.” Salesforce proves that the path to gender balance is not just at the start of the hiring process, but an ongoing goal.
In an era where a new tech start-up is born everyday, IBM is a truly an old-timer. Founded in 1911, IBM is more than a century old. Its current CEO, Ginni Rometty, is the first woman to lead Big Blue, becoming chairman in 2012. Rometty started her career at IBM in 1981. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
With Rometty at the top, IBM has made a strong effort to train, hire and retain talented and diverse women. This includes a well-regarded “returnship” program for employees who have taken time off from their careers to care for family members or other personal reasons. Today, women make up 29% of IBM’s workforce and 25% of management worldwide. The company also has a very strong track record supporting LGBTQ+ employees. Rometty said, “IBM thinks about diversity the way we think about innovation—both are essential to the success of our business.”
Gender Balance is Here to Stay
For a business to succeed in achieving true gender balance and pay parity, its business model must be inclusive up and down the org chart. Takeaway advice includes developing a wide funnel to hire engineers from unconventional backgrounds, eliminating the idea of “culture fit,” encouraging on-ramps for mid-career women who may have stepped away from tech to raise a family, and leading from the top—companies with female founders and CEOs have some of the strongest track records for gender equality.
Gender balance is not just a data point to be checked off on a list. Hiring, retaining, and promoting women must be an integral part of a company’s culture to succeed. But build a company that truly reflects the world we live in and employees, customers, and the bottom line all benefit.
Claire Lui grew up in San Francisco, but now lives in New York. She is a design, business and culture writer.