Women in NetSuite Promoting Positive Change with New U.S. Maternity Policy

Oct 7, 2015 4:00 AM ET

Written by Kathy Zwickert, Chief People Officer at NetSuite

Companies everywhere are recognizing the essential and unique role of women in business and technology, and at NetSuite we’re thrilled to be championing changes that will support more roles for women in leadership at our company. As a part of this effort, we’ve recently created the Women in NetSuite (WIN) program with a mission to advance the professional development of women at NetSuite through recruitment, sponsorship, networking, education and advocacy.

Sprung from an informal group of nine women executives at NetSuite who would regularly gather for lunch to discuss their careers, WIN became a formal group dedicated to improving the career paths for all women at NetSuite. With strong support from both our executive team and board members, including Deborah Farrington, Founder and General Manager of StarVest Partners, and Catherine Kinney, former President of the New York Stock Exchange, we began by setting in motion a clear charter and an exciting development opportunity for all women in the company.

We’re focused on the inclusion of women by prioritizing new programs in recruiting, education, mentoring and networking. In the spirit of the original nine, the WIN education committee established regular “Lunch and Learn” sessions led by internal and external speakers – all focused on practical education on a wide range of subjects. For example, our associate general counsel recently led a session on negotiation skills. Additionally, our mentorship program has paired female employees with senior leaders to facilitate career coaching and advocacy. Our efforts are already beginning to pay off. For example:

Management Positions: The percentage of women in manager positions at NetSuite rose from 29 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in the first half of 2015 as a result of both recruiting and promotion from within.

Recruitment: Of the people we’ve recruited to manager-level positions in the last 12 months, 32 percent have been women, compared with 29 percent 12 months prior.

Leadership: Today we have about 20 percent women in leadership positions (director level and above). That’s slightly better than the industry average of around 17 percent, but we need to do better. Our goal for 2016 is to raise the number of women across both recruitment and promotions by two percent, while reducing our turnover of female employees by 2 percent. That might sound like a small goal, but once you get people in and retain them they become our future managers and leaders.

We currently have WIN chapters at our headquarters in San Mateo as well as offices in Boston, Australia, Manila, Denver and Waterloo, with plans to launch chapters in Austin and the UK in Q4. What I like most about WIN is that it’s really a grass roots effort -- women across the globe within NetSuite are saying, “We should have this.”

Why is this a priority for NetSuite? It’s not just an initiative to provide more career or networking opportunities, although that’s certainly a part of it. WIN will make NetSuite more competitive. Studies have consistently shown that having women in leadership positions leads to more profitable businesses. We also want a diverse workplace. That’s better for everyone at NetSuite, the partners we work with and the customers we serve. Diversity is key to winning the talent war, increasing the bottom line and a requirement for our future successes.

Part of creating opportunities for employees is partnering with them as they move through various stages of life while building their careers. To further that goal, I’m thrilled to announce NetSuite’s new maternity and paternity leave policy for our US-based employees. Effective immediately, NetSuite employees in the U.S will receive 16 weeks of paid maternity leave with a return to work benefit (paid full salary for 30 hours a week) for 90 days, as well as four weeks of paid paternity. This gives NetSuite U.S. employees an even more generous policy than Apple and Adobe and puts us on par with companies like Facebook and Yahoo.

These are the sorts of policy changes WIN is affecting at NetSuite and there is more ahead -- be on the lookout.