Leslie Camino is senior director of corporate leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion at Keysight Technologies
Leslie Camino is focused on leadership development at Keysight, fostering high-potential talent and increasing diversity through mentoring, training, and coaching programs. She is certified in women’s leadership by the University of California, Los Angeles.
I was born in Oakland, CA but spent much of my childhood in Mexico City and attended an international school with students from all over the world. As a U.S. born American of Hispanic heritage, with English as my first language, learning a new language and being surrounded by so many different cultures at a young age was a unique and formative experience that encouraged me to explore my own identity, have an open mind, seek out new perspectives, and understand sensitivities. This mindset continues to influence how I see the world today and has helped shape my career as a Latina in tech and in a global environment. In my role at Keysight, these learnings are foundational to the layers within our own diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, while fostering a sense of belonging— including those focused on women’s professional growth.
Why it’s important to support women in tech
Professional development programs benefit all employees but are particularly needed for women and people of color. Sometimes all it takes for a team member to feel heard is a little encouragement — and these initiatives create a pathway for women to share ideas, grow their skill sets, and apply for promotions. In the male-dominated technology industry, companies that offer training, coaching, and mentoring programs that actively elevate female employees will reap major benefits, such as:
- Attracting and retaining top talent: Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech Report found that nearly 86% of working women ranked professional development and training opportunities as very important or extremely important. Having career growth programs for women will help distinguish your company in a competitive job market, as well as engage existing employees over the long term.
- Minimizing promotion and compensation bias: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s annual earnings are 82% of men’s — and the gap is even wider for women of color. Giving women opportunities to stretch themselves professionally and advance their careers helps technology companies improve gender pay parity and eliminate compensation bias. At Keysight, our efforts to create more equitable hiring and promotion processes helped us achieve a nearly 1:1 men-to-women salary ratio worldwide.
- Increasing diversity in leadership roles: Professional development programs provide opportunities for groups often underrepresented in leadership positions. Keysight has a strong track record of cultivating women leaders through initiatives like the Next Generation Leadership Program, whose graduates include our Chief Administrative Officer Ingrid Estrada and Electronic Industrial Solutions Group President Ee Huei Sin. And in 2021, 65% of Keysight’s Emerging Leaders Program participants were women, helping to ensure a pipeline of future female leaders.
- Driving innovation and business growth: Technology companies with inclusive cultures have a competitive business advantage. McKinsey revealed that organizations with greater gender diversity in their leadership teams are 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability compared to their peers. And a recent BCG study revealed that companies with above-average diversity levels produce 45% of their total revenue from newly launched innovations (compared to 26% for companies with below-average diversity levels). In other words, diverse teams help drive first-to-market technologies that impact the bottom line.
Ensuring effective career growth programs for women
Keysight has always placed a high value on diversity and inclusion; in fact, FORTUNE Magazine included us on its list of 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity two years in a row. And in 2021, we launched 27 programs across our company ecosystem, including eight specifically designed for women and underrepresented minorities.
While we know there are plenty of opportunities for our company to grow in this area, it is an evolutionary process rather than a destination, I wanted to share some lessons learned from our experience developing initiatives to help women thrive at Keysight.
1. Tailor programs to specific goals
Technology companies can design women’s professional development programs for a variety of needs. Each program should start with a specific objective — such as identifying high-potential talent, onboarding new hires, or increasing diversity in leadership — and provide the appropriate resources to support that goal.
Keysight’s female employees have agency and can choose from a variety of initiatives, whether they’re looking to connect with a mentor, learn new skills, lead high-visibility assignments through executive sponsors, or develop leadership competencies. For example, our Accelerated Women’s Leadership Program provides leadership development opportunities for high-potential talent. And for employees looking to expand their engineering knowledge, Keysight University provides inclusive eLearning opportunities on topics such as 5G, software test automation, and the Internet of Things.
2. Partner with community organizations
Establishing partnerships with organizations such as nonprofits, universities, and industry organizations helps technology companies expand their network to diversify their hiring pool, engage existing employees, and make a positive impact in the communities they serve.
Community outreach is core to Keysight’s overall corporate social responsibility efforts, including supporting women’s career growth. For example, we partner with Black Girls Code to offer virtual hackathons and mentoring to help young women of color embrace STEM fields. We also provide mentoring services for women seeking to advance in the quantum industry through Women in Quantum, a program we launched in partnership with OneQuantum.org. And we partner with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), an organization dedicated to helping women succeed in engineering and leadership. These relationships bring together students, professors, and employees to share knowledge and ensure women’s voices are heard across the tech industry.
3. Track progress, gather feedback, and optimize
As with any company initiative, it’s critical to track the performance and monitor results for women’s professional development programs. Before launching an initiative, define key success metrics such as engagement, hours spent in the program, and participant satisfaction to ensure employees get as much value as possible.
Rather than waiting till the end of the program to gather feedback, send regular check-ins or surveys to understand what’s working and what’s not. These communication touchpoints also serve as a nudge for participants to reengage in the program or check in with their mentors and reflect on what they are learning. At Keysight, we leverage technology platforms like MentorcliQ to automate this outreach, expand impact and gather insights. We also created a company dashboard to track progress and celebrate milestones in our overall diversity and inclusion goals.
It’s also a good idea to collect qualitative feedback through open-ended survey questions, or by talking to participants directly. And don’t forget the power of stories which bring to life the value and impact; I love hearing stories about how our programs help employees realize their capabilities and feel like they belong at Keysight. You can ask what they’ve learned, what their biggest takeaways are, and ideas for how to improve the program. These conversations will provide detailed insights to help ensure your professional development program is effective and can also serve as testimonials to attract new participants or create new mental models of what is possible.
Professional development as a business imperative
We often get asked to share externally what we are doing at Keysight, I think in large part because our leaders and people are personally invested and involved in what we do, it’s not an HR thing, and we believe that there are many opportunities for Keysight to grow. In fiscal year 2022, Keysight continues to be focused on improving representation with a goal of having 35% of our new hires be women and ensure women have an opportunity to work in tech and contribute to innovate alongside breakthrough technology innovators working to connect and securing the world. We’ll also work to improve access to our women’s professional development and culture programs based on employee feedback. Finally, we will continue to evaluate our HR policies, procurement practices, and office facilities with an inclusion lens to ensure we continue to build a workplace where everyone feels they belong and can do their best work.
Supporting women’s career advancement is not just a nice thing to do, but a business imperative. Employees, customers, and investors from across the industry want to support companies that value diversity. By creating professional development programs across the career journey that set up women for success in the STEM fields, technology companies will foster a culture that treats individuals of all backgrounds with dignity and respect.