Sony Electronics leads the way in California for women in STEM
With Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day being embraced up and down the US recently, the issue of gender equality in the workplace has once more come under an intense spotlight.
In terms of pay, women in America earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the US Census Bureau’s latest data.
While this marks an improvement from previous decades, the picture globally is cause for concern. On average, women earn 57% of what men earn and the World Economic Forum believes this gap will not close for another 217 years.
This situation is not helped by the fact that high-paid STEM industries are still dominated by a male workforce. According to figures released by the Office of the Chief Economist, women filled 47% of all US jobs in 2015, but held only 27% of those in STEM sectors.
One organization doing its utmost to address this trend is Sony Electronics. From its base in San Diego, it has become something of a regional hub for women seeking to advance careers in the various sectors its work permeates.
“It really is a national and international issue,” said Cheryl Goodman, Head of Corporate Communications at Sony Electronics in an interview with Business Chief. “But speaking specifically to recruitment and retention, which is one of the things that I drive for the North America market, is we have to not only recruit the best of the best, but retain the best as well.
“They are women, they do wear lipstick on occasion, they are more feminine, and it's important that we model that, illustrate that, share that, and promote that, because we know that if women and girls aren't exposed to their potential of what they can be, they simply will operate under what they've seen.”
Goodman praises the leadership of Mike Fasulo, President and COO of Sony North America, who fully buys into the evidence that shows businesses to be more profitable if they have a diverse workforce.
Sony Electronics itself is a case in point. For the third successive year it has scored a perfect 100 from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in its Best Places to Work Corporate Equality Index.
“Sony headquarters becomes the hub for best practices and methods for women to live their fullest mission wherever they are, whether that's in Sony Electronics or is it down the street in a competitor's company,” Goodman added. “We like to hold the conversation, we like to curate the conversation, and lead and support that conversation.”
Whether it be through hosting events, involvement with organisations such as Athena San Diego or running its own mentoring programs and network groups like WAVE (Women of Action, Vision, and Empowerment), Sony Electronics practices what it preaches. This is also demonstrated by the fact that the company has a majority of leadership roles filled by women.
What advice does Goodman offer to women seeking to pursue or further a career in STEM?
“I would say that by and large that being a woman can be an opportunity as much as a perceived disadvantage. Number one is that your contribution level is more important than the color of your skin or your gender. Bottom line is the value that you add to the organization. When we hire we are looking for people to solve the problem with the skills that they have, regardless of what they look like, or what gender they are. So, it is about quality, it is about skill, and it is about contribution.”
To see the full interview with Cheryl Goodman, look at for the June edition of Business Chief magazine.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.