Like many big corporations, Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals is focused on increasing opportunities for women, including growing the number of women technologists it employs. To help do that, Thomson Reuters established a Women’s Advisory Task Force, chaired by CEO Jim Smith and Chief People Officer Peter Warwick, with the aim to ensure female leadership development and the advancement of women to senior positions.
The task force helped bring into focus the different needs of women technologists at the company. One issue that stood out to leadership was that experienced women technologists (just below the director level) were leaving the company at a worrying rate. This trend was mainly a result of managers and individual contributors leaving the organization for other opportunities after not being promoted.
To stem this flow of experienced women technologists, Thomson Reuters sought the expertise of Susan Davis-Ali, Ph.D., a leader in coaching and mentoring professional women. With Susan’s guidance, Thomson Reuters implemented Leadhership1, a program designed to engage and retain rising women technologists within the company.
Not only did Leadhership1 shed light on the specific retention and promotion issues affecting the Thomson Reuters female workforce, the program also empowers midcareer, high-potential women to connect with women technologist colleagues in different locations around the world. This sense of community is incredibly important to making women technologists feel included, supported and less isolated within an organization.
“I am in a better position to challenge myself in areas I was not so sure of before, and to step forward for new opportunities knowing I have a team of people in my corner to support me and provide advice,” said a Leadhership1 participant.
One of the most crucial sources of this support has been from Thomson Reuters Chief Information Officer Rick King, Senior Director of Talent and Development Molly Gantz, and Saidah Nash Carter, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation, GGO SSA, who are executive sponsors of the effort.
This top-down support of diversity and inclusion programs is critical to success. Thanks to the company leadership’s dedication to improving the retention and advancement of women technologists, Leadhership1 has successfully graduated 240 participants in five global cohorts to date.
Leadhership1 is a six-month program in which participants complete 40 online coaching sessions designed to build leadership abilities and confidence. The program also includes video-aided and face-to-face meetings, as well as a private online community to share their experiences, best practices and other resources and individual coaching.
Women employees who demonstrate strong leadership potential are nominated from across the company’s locations, ensuring a diverse geographic representation for the program. Leadhership1 graduates can then apply for the Sponsorship Program, which includes a year of one-on-one coaching with a senior-level sponsor.
Investing in Leadhership1 is paying off for Thomson Reuters — participants in the program seem to stay with the company longer. The overall retention rate for Leadhership1 participants is 17 percentage points higher than that of the overall technology population, and promotion rates are 3 percent higher.
The Leadhership1 program also leads to increased confidence in achieving career goals among participants. Before taking part in Leadhership1, 40 percent of the participants said they weren’t confident about their ability to achieve their career goals. Following the Leadhership1 program, 92 percent of participants responded with higher levels of confidence of achieving their career goals.
These admirable results are thanks in part to the significant time investment on the part of participants and organizers. Participants spend at least seven hours a month on Leadhership1 activities, including online coaching modules and facilitated group meetings.
“This program helps our high-potential women technologists around the world increase their goal,” said Regina Olson, Director of Talent and Development and Leadhership1 program owner. “The numbers show that it has contributed to retaining and advancing our top women technology talent and we intend to continue supporting it.”