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VMware Diversity Data Show More Women in Technical Jobs

VMware Inc. said women make up 19 percent of its engineers, a slightly higher ratio compared with other technology companies that have recently released data in response to criticism that they aren’t diverse enough.

Google Inc., which kicked off the disclosures in May after publishing the makeup of its staff, reported that 17 percent of technical jobs were held by female employees. Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. followed, showing 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Of VMware’s total workforce of 14,300, 22 percent are women, according to Betsy Sutter, senior vice president of people at VMware, the biggest developer of software that lets computers run different operating systems.

Diversity has become more of critical issue in Silicon Valley. Apple Inc., facing behind-the-scenes pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives, added language to a board committee charter last year vowing to diversify its board. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, has been vocal about the need for women to be represented in leadership roles, bringing the issue into the spotlight with her Lean In campaign.

Facebook and Twitter were also criticized leading up to their initial public offerings for not having any female directors. Facebook, Twitter and Google now all have women on their boards. Still, the numbers show that Silicon Valley lags the rest of corporate America when it comes to diversity, with women making up an average of 35 percent of the workforce among Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies.

Other technology companies have also disclosed data on ethnic diversity, showing that whites and Asians make up the majority of their workforces. VMware’s Sutter didn’t disclose such information.

Diversity Challenge

“It’s much more interesting to talk about what you are actually doing to change that representation of women,” Sutter said. “It’s one thing to say we have a problem. It’s another thing to say, ‘here’s what we’re doing about it.’”

VMware didn’t release a public report and Sutter disclosed the diversity data in an interview, when discussing a plan to attract and retain more female technical staff, Sutter said.

When Pat Gelsinger took over as chief executive officer of Palo Alto, California-based VMware in September 2012, he asked for detailed data on the makeup of the workforce, Sutter said. Each of the CEO’s direct reports is responsible for coming up with plans to improve recruiting and career development opportunities for women.

At least one woman will need to be on every interview team for new hires at VMware and the final list of candidates for a job should include a woman whenever possible. Also, each female intern or college graduate will be paired with a female employee when she’s hired, Sutter said.

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