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Utah tech companies pledge to increase number of women in leadership positions

Utah tech companies pledge to increase number of women in leadership positions

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SALT LAKE CITY — Big players in the Utah tech scene have committed to increasing the number of women in leadership positions by including at least one qualified female candidate in the interview process for every open position, vice president or above, according to a Silicon Slopes news release.

Utah tech companies Qualtrics, Domo, Pluralsight and InsideSales have all shared their support for the initiative, called the “ParityPledge.” National companies, including Cisco, Ralph Lauren and Lyft have also voiced their commitment.

There are no quotas or deadlines for companies that take the pledge, they simply have to include at least one woman in the interview process.

Parity.org is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring gender parity and equality to the highest levels of business, according to the organization’s website. Silicon Slopes, a nonprofit organization working with the Utah tech and startup communities, collaborated with Parity.org’s founder Cathrin Stickney to develop the ParityPledge over the last few months.

The pledge was born from a simple idea known as the Rooney Rule. The rule is a National Football League policy that requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. The rule increased representation of blacks in the NFL from 6 percent to 22 percent in just three years.

Utah tech leaders are hoping the concept will do the same for women.

“Gender diversity in company leadership creates healthier organizations, yet we know that in tech, as in many industries, we have a long way to go to make parity a reality," said Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO of Pluralsight, in a news release. "It will take the collective consciousness at the highest levels of organizations to make a meaningful difference. We are proud to take the ParityPledge and help be a role model for change."

While leaders know diversity in the workplace is a boon for any organization, there is no statistically significant correlation between gender diversity and performance until women constitute at least 22 percent of a senior executive team, a study by McKinsey found in 2015.

According to a Harvard Business Review, if there’s only one woman in a candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance she’ll be hired. When two of the finalists are women, a woman is as likely as a man to be chosen.

While 82 percent of Americans say it's important for women and men to have the same opportunities for career advancement, just 34 percent say their current workplace puts a high priority on having women in leadership positions, said Ryan Smith, co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics, in a news release.

“That's a huge experience gap. ParityPledge is the right thing to do. It's so easy to implement, any company of any size can commit to doing this. We need more women in tech and in leadership — it's hard to achieve success if we are removing half of the playing field. ParityPledge will not only help us all to recruit but also to grow our leadership from within," he said.

Parity.org and Silicon Slopes have invited organizations across the country, and especially those in Utah, to commit. The full list of companies that have made the ParityPledge will be announced during the Women’s Leadership Summit during the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in January 2018.

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