Neustar is deeply committed to increasing the depth and scope of our country’s  technology workforce.  We believe that it is important to expand and improve our science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) education – and we’re backing that up by investing in digital literacy programs for middle school students.   As part of this commitment, we believe that it is important to develop and retain a diverse technology workforce.

As we look ahead to the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing , an event in which we are proud to participate,  we’ve been reflecting on the overall diversity of our own employee base. We’re on par with other technology companies when it comes to the percentages of women and minorities in our company, but we still have more to do— both as a company and as an industry. A lot has been written lately about the lag in diversity among technology companies as a whole, especially when it comes to employing women in technical roles. Like our high-tech neighbors, we’ve asked ourselves how we can both attract and retain the best and most diverse talent. I thought I’d share with you some of the actions we’ve taken to help us do just that.

The Reality

Currently at Neustar, 33 percent of our employees are women and 35 percent are minorities, both up slightly from last year.  Looking at the types of jobs held, 19 percent of our technical employees are women and 49 percent of our technical employees are minorities. Focusing on management positions, 22 percent of managers in a technical role are women, and 25 percent of managers in a technical position are minorities.

When we broke the numbers down into length of service, we discovered that well over one-third of our new hires (employees who’ve been here less than 99 days) are women. Almost half of those new hires were minorities. We’re proud of the strides we’ve taken in this area. But we have plenty more technical positions to fill, so we’ll continue to seek out the best and most diverse talent to fill these roles.

Improving the Reality

Even though our recruiting numbers are strong, we are still working on attracting more diverse candidates for our open positions. We’re heavily involved with both the Anita Borg Institute, a national organization promoting women in computing and the annual host of the Grace Hopper Celebration, and with Women in Technology, a local not-for-profit organization with the mission of advancing women in technology. Through our partnerships with these organizations, we’re always looking for ways to recruit and advance talented women.

Additionally, we’ve launched a couple of internship programs that will help us attract students with an interest in computer and data science, math, and statistics. Locally, we work with YearUp, a one-year, intensive training program that provides low-income young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships. Neustar Labs, our technical research and development facility on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, also employs interns to help us solve complex problems using large sets of data, among other highly sought-after skills. With both programs, our hope is that our interns will continue on as full-time employees.

While these programs are still in their infancy, our internship numbers have been impressive. For our 2012 Intern program, at our Virginia headquarters, 33 percent of our interns were women and 50 percent were minorities. In Illinois, 10 percent of our interns were women, while 90 percent were minorities.

Also on the recruiting front, we are looking to add Historically Black Colleges and Universities into our circuit of preferred educational institutions.  We are connected with DiversityWorking.com, the largest diversity online job board providing options for a wide-range of ethnic groups, women, LGBT, veterans, mature workers, and persons with disabilities.  We’ll be participating in several virtual diversity job fairs that will give us the opportunity to reach hundreds of diverse candidates within technology and sales.

Of course, recruitment is only half of the equation. According to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, in general, 74 percent of women in technology leave their careers despite loving their work. Further, they found that 56 percent of technical women leave at the “mid-level” point. This is unacceptable and we’re working to improve employee retention at every level.

One way we’re doing this is by taking a deeper look at the needs of our employees. We have undertaken an extensive survey of our employees in the areas of benefits and work environment to get a better understanding of what our employees find valuable.  We are now in the process of adjusting our benefits to help meet their needs, as well as the needs of their families, based on those survey results.

Like other tech companies, one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced has been advancing our women and minority employees into leadership positions. To help facilitate this, we’ve launched several programs including an intensive Developing Leaders program, which aims to help train and retain the leaders already working at Neustar. Additionally, we’re instituting programs to help us identify and develop future leaders in the company. Recently, we launched a special career track for technologists. This will allow our technical staff to advance up through the ranks of the company without leaving the technology—often the reason they took the job in the first place—behind in favor of managing people. This will allow them to develop into leaders without having to take on roles in which they have no interest.

We are proud of the progress we’re making in these areas, but we recognize that we have more to do. We’re confident that the programs we’ve put in place and the initiatives we plan to launch soon will make us even more attractive to technologists with all backgrounds.  And we are always looking for new approaches – since we believe that a diverse technically trained workforce is good for Neustar, for the technology sector and, ultimately, our country.