This article was originally posted on the Conference Board, Giving Thoughts Series May 24, 2016.
Symantec’s vision is to make the world a safer place, and to accomplish this we need a team with the diversity of expertise and experience to protect against threats, both known and unknown. I believe that diversity helps us understand our customers better, enables us to respond to trends more quickly, and stimulates innovation. This is why we’ve made investing in diversity—both internally and more broadly in society through our philanthropic partnerships—a priority at Symantec, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it directly translates to a higher performing industry, company and bottom line.
According to Gallup, organizations with inclusive cultures report 27 percent higher profitability than those without. And McKinsey’s recent Diversity Matters report found that ethnically and gender-diverse teams offer companies more problem-solving tools, broader thinking, and better solutions, sparking innovation across the company.
The intersection of philanthropy and diversity efforts
A diverse workforce is rooted in a consistent, growing pipeline of qualified candidates. However, this doesn’t happen overnight and it most certainly doesn’t happen solely within the confines of our business. We need to reach outside our walls and into the communities where we live and work, to drive change that will not only benefit Symantec, but the industry and society as a whole.
This is where philanthropy becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle. I have always felt strongly that our philanthropic investments can be a powerful tool for translating a diversity strategy into tangible results. Targeted, strategic philanthropy should align with and support our business. When aligned with diversity goals and metrics, philanthropy allows us to build relationships with key influencers and leading nonprofit organizations that are at the forefront of championing equity. We learn from these partnerships—where the gaps are, how we can more effectively reach diverse communities, what we can be doing within our own company to build a culture that’s more diverse and inclusive.
This intersection of philanthropy and diversity supports our diversity strategy, which is focused on attracting and retaining diverse talent, building an inclusive culture where that talent can thrive, and engaging with stakeholders to drive social impact—such as gender equity and equal access to STEM/cybersecurity education.
We believe in leveraging our philanthropic dollars to partner with thought leaders in the areas of diversity. We are a founding signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), a partnership initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact (UNGC) considered globally as the recognized principles and standards for women’s equality. In 2012, our CEO endorsed the WEP, and since then we’ve made strides towards implementing the principles and promoting equality for women. We grew our representation of women on our Board of Directors from 10 percent to 30 percent. We now have 30 percent female representation on our C-Suite as well. We also set public-facing goals to increase the percentage of women in our leadership. The WEP has provided us a framework to more fully integrate gender equity into and across our business
We also help to advance public policy initiatives which support equity and human rights. While we have been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” for eight consecutive years, it’s really our partnership with the HRC which has guided us on creating a more inclusive culture and becoming public advocates of LGBT equality, supporting such relevant initiatives as The Equality Act and most recently signing onto HRC’s letter against North Carolina’s recent law impacting the LGBT community. Additionally we partner with nonprofits that promote the inclusion of more women into the technology field such as the Anita Borg Institute, and Lesbians Who Tech, an organization which celebrates the most innovative technology coming out of the lesbian community.
Net Impact is a nonprofit which mobilizes new generations to use their skills and careers to drive transformational social and environmental change. (As a side note, I would like to say that if I had the opportunity to belong to Net Impact when I was in college or graduate school I would have discovered much earlier in my career the importance of a career with purpose.)
We have partnered with Net Impact on the creation of the Racial Equity Awareness Leadership (REAL) Program. This scalable effort on race equity has a goal to institutionalize racial equity at colleges and universities through training and curriculum, and also create an inspired and equipped cohort of REAL student leaders to serve as peer-to-peer racial equity champions. Symantec has also provided a grant to Net Impact to further the growth of their chapters at undergraduate colleges and universities, with a focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), supporting the case for the crucial role that the HBCU community can play in addressing the racial inequities and barriers still in existence in the business world today.
Symantec Cyber Career Connection
A final great example of how philanthropy and diversity can come together to create shared value—and one that I am especially proud of—is our signature program, Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3). This initiative in collaboration with Symantec, the Symantec Foundation, nonprofit partners, and global companies is focused on building a pipeline of more diverse talent. SC3 addresses the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals and the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity profession by providing underrepresented young adults and veterans the preparation and training they need to enter into cybersecurity careers.
In its first year, SC3 moved graduates into internships and full-time jobs at companies including Symantec, KPMG, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, as well as improving diversity in the cybersecurity field, with 96 percent of graduates from the program being people of color and 38 percent female.
These are just a few of the ways I believe philanthropy and diversity have collaborated to produce important outcomes for Symantec and society. My hope is that the ongoing integration of our corporate diversity and philanthropic strategies will continue to strengthen our position in the marketplace and increase our impact externally more effectively than either can achieve alone.
More about the intersection of corporate philanthropy and diversity and inclusion
This post responds to The Conference Board’s recent report *Better Together: Why a United Front Can Propel Diversity and Inclusion and Corporate Philanthropy in the United States.*The report is available free to members of The Conference Board.
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