HP is making waves in the technology industry. In May, HP announced new diversity goals. Most notably, 50% of leadership positions would need to be filled by women by 2030.
Female underrepresentation in leadership positions has long plagued the technology industry. Over the last five years, many major technology companies have launched initiatives to increase representation among women in technology.
However, progress has been slow. A recent McKinsey & Company study reported that between 2015 and 2020, female leadership increased from 23 to 28% in SVP roles and from 17 to 21% in C-suite roles.
HP’s new initiative indicates a change in perspective for many technology companies. Rather than focusing on simply increasing diversity in a company, specific attention to leadership roles can create substantial shifts in company culture. It also helps resolve some of the impacts of COVID-19, which have disproportionately impacted women in leadership positions.
HP’s New Diversity Initiative
Currently, 31% of leadership positions at HP globally are held by women. However, HP’s new diversity goals would have a balanced leadership with 50/50 gender equality.
The company also aims to promote diversity across the company. By 2030, HP plans to increase female representation in technical and engineering roles. They have also developed an annual business challenge geared toward helping Black students get experience in technology careers.
“Creating a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion has long been integral to HP’s success, but our work is far from done,” said Enrique Lores, president and CEO at HP Inc. in a press release. “We will continue pushing to break down barriers within our own organization while using our platforms to advance gender and racial equality, social justice and human rights across our ecosystem.”
In the past, HP has also made efforts to support women in technology. In 2019, the technology company sponsored the film “Brave Girl Rising” and provided resources and events for women in the company.
Female Leadership Across Other Major Technology Companies
Across major tech giants, female leadership representation is largely the same. Some tech giants have seen small developments over the last few years but nowhere near a 50/50 gender balance.
For instance, at Facebook female leadership increased from 23 to 34.2% between 2014 and 2020. Meanwhile, at Google, women held 26.1% of leadership roles in 2019 and 26.7% of roles in 2020.
Twitter and Apple have also released their company diversity initiatives and reported on developments throughout the last year.
Twitter plans to achieve a global workforce that is 50% women by 2025. Furthermore, the social media company also wants to increase representation among minorities to 25% in the U.S. Apple has initiated action plans that are changing the company hiring processes, leadership training, and more.
While other tech giants are certainly making changes to increase female representation at their companies, HP’s goals are some of the first to tackle leadership-level positions.
Other technology companies may follow similar goals as HP or extend current initiatives to reflect women in leadership positions. It may also encourage companies to alter or accelerate diversity goals so that more leadership positions are filled by women.
How Women in Leadership Positions Have Been Impacted by COVID-19
HP’s efforts also acknowledge a larger dilemma that has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, women have left the workforce at higher rates than men and experienced greater pressure at work and home.
According to the McKinsey & Company: Women in the Workplace 2020 Report, senior-level women are burning out at a higher rate than senior-level men during the pandemic.
In the report, one woman shared, “This has been the most challenging professional and personal year of my life. I have days where it all feels hopeless. I’ve been thinking about stepping back, which I never did before COVID-19. I’m looking for roles at other companies with a smaller team and shorter hours.”
If too many women leave leadership positions, then women at the company lose a powerful voice who can advocate for gender equality in the workplace. HP’s new goals, however, alleviate some of the pressure female leaders have and provides consistent opportunities for equal leadership.
What HP’s Initiative Means for the Future of Women in Technology
Tech giants are leaders of innovation, and they can also be leaders of progress. HP’s new goals reflect a far greater change that is happening in the technology industry.
By changing the dynamics of their leadership environment, technology companies can address issues in diversity. Women in leadership positions are more likely than men to support gender and racial equality. They are also more likely to listen to and acknowledge bias and mistreatment in a company.
Technology companies can create an environment where people from all backgrounds can thrive and remedy existing challenges. As more technology companies set up long-term initiatives and goals, they can inspire one another in fostering a more equal workplace.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.