Opportunity Parity: First Steps in Our Journey

The MAKERS Conference. Event theme: NOT DONE.

The MAKERS Conference. Event theme: NOT DONE.

Last week, I was delighted to be a part of the MAKERS Conference in Los Angeles. The conference theme was “Not Done” – meaning that even 100 years after women in the United States obtained the right to vote, there is still so much that still needs to happen for women to achieve full equity. We heard from incredibly inspiring speakers, ranging from Katherine Switzer who pioneered women’s participation in marathon running to Anita Hill who brought sexual harassment into the national dialogue.

In our own way, corporations can also drive meaningful change by evaluating and challenging our practices. Many companies. including Adobe, have done this through pay parity initiatives, and we are proud that we achieved global gender pay parity in 2018. For our next chapter, we embarked on what we call opportunity parity – examining fairness in promotions and horizontal movement across demographic groups. We declared this new initiative onstage at MAKERS last year, and before the end of the year we had announced our first findings relative to promotions.

We believe opportunity parity is essential to making Adobe an inclusive and rewarding place for employees from every background. But to the best of our knowledge, there is no accepted industry standard for how to measure it, so defining our metrics became the first phase of this initiative. We agreed upon the data indicators for “promotion” and “horizontal movement,” and then validated our data to ensure that our results were accurate and actionable. This may sound straightforward, but in the world of HR data, it can actually be quite challenging.

Once we had that phase completed, we conducted the second phase: global analysis. This examined our fiscal year 2019 promotion rates by gender globally, and by race/ethnicity within the U.S. Our full-year results are shared on our website: promotion rates for both gender and race/ethnicity (white vs. non-white) showed less than 1% variance. We consider that a positive indicator that we are starting our opportunity parity work from a solid foundation.

Now, we are set to embark on the next phase of our opportunity parity initiative, where we will examine our major geographic regions and organizations as well as sharing our first findings on horizontal movement. If we find any disparities, that will give us an opportunity to dig into the dynamics that could be improved through stronger practices, better training or clearer policies.

Unlike pay parity, which can be achieved through direct financial investment in employees’ pay, opportunity parity does not have a straightforward and easy “solve.” We expect to discover, innovate and share best practices as we go. It is a bit uncomfortable to be on a journey in uncharted terrain, but we are committed to our destination: Adobe employees have confidence that they have fair compensation and opportunity.

I am energized to be part of a community, along with other MAKERS members and a wide collaboration of industry leaders, that is committed to forward progress for women and other underrepresented groups in business and technology. Because we are not done.