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Eastman Becomes ‘Pacesetter’ in Movement to Bring More Women to IT

Eastman Chemical Company is becoming a national "Pacesetter" in the movement to bring more women to careers in information technology and computing.

Eastman Becomes ‘Pacesetter’ in Movement to Bring More Women to IT

Eastman Chemical Company is becoming a national "Pacesetter" in the movement to bring more women to careers in information technology and computing.

Published 02-22-16

Submitted by Eastman Chemical Company

Eastman has joined a cohort of companies and universities who commit for two years to being part of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Pacesetters collective. Organized by NCWIT, the Pacesetters program is designed to break down barriers and perceptions that prevent more women from choosing careers in IT.

Eastman had already become a NCWIT member company in 2015 and collaborated on a Sit With Me event that addressed the issue of declining numbers of women in IT, but participation in the Pacesetters initiative is an even longer stride forward.

NCWIT Pacesetters is designed for member organizations that are committed to taking especially proactive measures to increase the numbers of women in IT. All 40 participating organizations in the 2016 cohort must set aggressive and measurable goals over a two-year timeframe.

Other companies that are part of the Pacesetters cohort with Eastman include Apple, Bank of America, Intel Corporation and Merck & Co.

“We are committed to making a real difference in reversing this national trend,” said Keith Sturgill, Eastman’s chief information officer. “We know that a powerfully diverse and broadly inclusive workforce will not only help our team members to reach their full potential but also uncover more insights, better ideas, and exciting new innovations.”

Women held 57 percent of U.S. professional occupations in 2014, but only 26 percent of professional computing jobs. Numbers for the “pipeline” of potential professionals are even lower. In 2013, as only 18 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients in computer and information science were women.

“We’re a global, Fortune 500 company, so we’re in competition with other companies to hire the best people in the world to fill IT positions,” Sturgill said. “Women comprise more than half of the available talent pool, so it’s important for us as professionals to show how rewarding and diverse a technical career can be.”

Eastman’s Pacesetters initiative is being led by Mike Austin, director of process excellence and program management for Eastman IT. He said hiring targets are not the only area where Eastman will make advances. Fine-tuning processes to advance retention, career development and advancement will also be at the forefront.

“One of the advantages of the Pacesetters cohort is the chance to share processes and experiences with our peers, so we can identify areas where we can improve,” Austin said. “One area could be the area of career advancement. Not all IT professionals – women and men – want to choose a management track, but for those who do, we need to be sure we’re giving all IT members – men and women – the chance to realize their full potential.”

Sarah Bastian was charged by Sturgill to spearhead the overall Eastman IT initiatives. In addition to the workforce retention and advance sub-team, additional teams are focused on the areas of community involvement and recruiting.

Bastian, an advanced systems analyst at Eastman who is an expert in cybersecurity, said the commitment of Eastman and other members of its Pacesetters cohort can make a collective impact.

“The decline in the percentage of women who choose IT didn’t happen overnight, and it will take time for us to reverse the trend,” Bastian said. “Throughout the industry, it’s going to take women and men working together to make a difference, and that’s what is happening at Eastman. Joining Pacesetters is an important step forward, and it’s further proof that Eastman is serious about making a difference.”

To learn additional details about Eastman’s ongoing initiative to increase women in IT, read about the first Eastman Sit With Me event here. A video about Eastman diversity in IT is available on Eastman’s YouTube channel.

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