Challenge Model Practice
Gender Equity Image Project

Symantec Corporation

Principle V: Business, supply chain, and marketing practices

2013 Challenge Submission

Symantec is one of the world’s largest software companies providing security, storage, and systems management solutions to help its customers secure and manage their information-driven world.

With the widespread underrepresentation of young female students in math, science, and other technical disciplines, the IT industry is largely male-dominated. As a result, women are underrepresented in technical, managerial and, in particular, executive leadership roles—a limiting trend that Symantec is working to minimize and eventually eliminate. Symantec's efforts to promote gender equality and advance women's influence and participation in technology are ongoing and continuous.

“As a technology company, innovation is key to Symantec’s business success. Diversity in our workforce, especially talented and creative women, provides a unique and invaluable perspective that fosters innovation and strengthens our business.”
Steve Bennett
President and Chief Executive Officer, Symantec Corporation

At any given point in time during the past few years, women have comprised slightly more than a quarter of Symantec's global workforce. Although this is consistent with women's representation in the tech industry as a whole, Symantec's numbers are improving.

Symantec's approach to gender equality is that work is better when we interact in a diverse workforce. Our customers are diverse, and because of that they have unique challenges. We recognize that the best way to respond to our customers and address their challenges is to ensure that our employees reflect the diversity of our customers.

Diversity at Symantec, gender-based and otherwise, encompasses respect, open-mindedness, and a commitment to professional and personal growth. Diversity in thought, perspective, experience, and life are a vital part of the Symantec culture; in fact, that's what allows us to innovate, solve problems, and succeed. By embracing diversity we make the most of our human resources, talent, and abilities—and that makes Symantec a great place to work.

The Gender Equity Image Project is the Symantec model practice that helps the company maintain ethical marketing standards by respecting the dignity of women in all sales, promotional, and advertising materials.

How does this model practice work?

The Symantec Gender Equity Image Project uses straightforward and easy-to-understand metrics. Several members of the marketing team evaluated over 300 images across several categories in an effort to understand how gender is represented in Symantec imagery. A spreadsheet tracks and calculates the number of images in various categories, including:

  • Internal Advertising
  • External Advertising
  • Videos and Multimedia
  • Brochures
  • Internal Websites
  • Advertising Imagery

Each category includes a subset of image examples and a simple rating system of Positive/Negative/Neutral is applied. These ratings are combined to create an overall percentage and the goal is to improve this percentage of positive imagery at each evaluation. (See the attached document)

“Our commitment to gender equality starts at the top. We know that a strong representation of women in executive roles allows us to make the most of our human resources, talent, and abilities—and that helps bring the best ideas to light.”
Cecily Joseph
Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Symantec Corporation


The initial results were presented to all of the teams with control over the various areas. Each team committed to a 5% improvement in the first year. Corporate Marketing incorporated appropriate best practices language in both the Editorial Style guide and the Visual Guidelines documents to help individual contributors make the best choices.

The Gender Equity Image Program will continue to be utilized and incorporated into the work of the relevant teams. Ideally, the program will be scaled within Symantec and become a company standard that's considered not only annually in hindsight of images use but also as part of the decision-making process when incorporating new imagery into all areas of the Symantec brand.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

The Gender Equity Image Program can be easily scaled and duplicated based largely on its simplicity. The resources required to complete the project are minimal and the opportunity to track improvement over time allows for an easy benchmarking of success.

Included below is a sample spreadsheet outlining the criteria for the initial gathering of data by which Symantec evaluated this program. A version of this sample spreadsheet was created for each category and sub-divided by image location and type for tracking purposes.

Categories Total # reviewed Graphics only
(non gender)
% Male % Female % Both Pos/Neg/
Image Library            


Symantec provides a list of the language featured in the Symantec Corporate Editorial Style guide and, as an abridged version, in the Advertising Guidelines.


View Ann Lehman's profile on LinkedIn


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