Recently I had the chance to speak with several people at Intuit, including Jennifer Hall, their VP of Human Resources, as well as Kris Halvorsen, their Chief Innovation Officer. The reason we spoke was that I’ve been very impressed with Intuit’s culture, and their ability to retain technical women, and wanted to learn more. What Jennifer told me is that “Intuit is forever focused on a culture where all employees want to work.” She believes that Intuit values diversity, values collaboration, and creates an environment for the employees, while still focusing on results.
Not surprisingly, a disconnect I’ve seen with many companies is the disconnect between policies and practice. Both Jennifer and Kris talked about the commitment to flexibility, and that it came from the top. The organizational leadership is committed to flexibility. Intuit also has strong technical leaders who serve as role models, including Nora Denzel, a member of the Anita Borg Institute Board of Trustees.
Intuit recognizes the need for flexibility and career development. There are women in many positions, including senior technical positions, who work part time. One of the results from our study last year is that women want to make technical contributions, even if they are working part time.
Intuit has also developed a robust women’s network. Women’s networks are a common tool for the companies we work with. One of the best indicators of success is the commitment of the organization to supporting these women’s network, with money and leadership support. Intuit often brings women from this network to ABI’s events including Women of Vision and the Grace Hopper Celebration. There is nothing more powerful than several tables of women at the Women of Vision Awards enjoying the event and swapping stories.
We also discussed how important the partnership is between R&D and HR. The leadership development program for technical leaders comes from the technical workforce, and all too often these two functions are managed completely separately.
Intuit holds regular diversity events, often hosted by multiple employee networks, e.g. black history month, or co-sponsored women’s network and gay and lesbian networks. The individual networks are important, but cross pollination between networks is key to the organizations’ success. For each of these events, there is strong executive presence.
In these challenging times, culture is increasingly important. Intuit should be proud of its approach.