02/14/2017

Tarsha McCormick is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, North America for ThoughtWorks, a global IT consulting company and a community of passionate, purpose-led individuals. ThoughtWorks thinks disruptively to deliver technology to address their clients’ toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionize the IT industry and create positive social change.

Tarsha joined ThoughtWorks in January of 1999 as a Recruiting Specialist when the company was a small startup with a group of less than 100. Today ThoughtWorks has grown to over 4000 employees globally in 40 offices spread across 14 countries in 6 continents.

Over the years Tarsha has been instrumental in helping to build, grow, and lead various aspects of ThoughtWorks, including recruiting, benefits, HR operations, and talent management. Since moving into the Head of Diversity and Inclusion role in January 2015, Tarsha is responsible for driving the strategic thinking and work related to making ThoughtWorks more diverse and inclusive, and advocating for change in the technology industry.

“I am committed to WIT’s Mission because it speaks to me both personally and professionally.   WIT’s mission of advocating for women and girls in STEM and helping them to write their own stories directly aligns with the work I do as the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, ThoughtWorks North America.  In addition, it aligns with one of my passions of getting more women, particularly women of color, interested in careers in technology.  
– Tarsha McCormick

After earning a B.A. in Political Science from Illinois State University, Tarsha worked in the social services industry for 4 year before making a transition into human resources, which married her love of people, law, and education. In addition to her 18 years of human resources experience, she holds an MBA with a focus on Human Resources Management. Born and raised in Chicago, she has called Atlanta home since 2010.

We sat down with Tarsha to find out more about the programs or initiatives that ThoughtWorks has in place to advance women in STEM within the company.

“ThoughtWorks is committed to building a diverse and inclusive work environment because we firmly believe that a wide range of experiences and backgrounds contribute positively to the quality of our products and services.

Aptitude, Attitude and Integrity have been the hallmark of our culture and selection process from the beginning. Our process aims to dig beyond the CV to find people who are intellectually curious and have transferrable skills. While other organizations choose degrees and institutions as their selection point, we believe our guiding principles of Attitude, Aptitude and Integrity, allows us to bring together greater diversity of thought to solve the ever increasing challenges our clients face.

At ThoughtWorks, we strive to promote diversity in all its forms, and we actively try to make our organization, and the larger tech community more reflective of the society we serve. Over the last couple of years, more attention has been given to the lack of diversity in IT, particularly as it relates to gender. While there have been some improvements, the industry has yet to achieve impactful change, and it continues to be dominated primarily by white males.

Over six years ago, ThoughtWorks decided it was time to change the gender landscape of our organization by focusing more time and attention on how we recruit, retain, support, and grow our female talent within our North America organization. Bold decisions, coupled with innovative programs and initiatives are what led to us being named the winner of the 2016 Top Companies For Women Technologist Program by the Anita Borg Institute. Some of our programs, practices, and initiatives include:

  1. Casting a wider net and looking for talent outside of the computer science department.
  2. Creating ThoughtWorks University, a two-year entry level program for recent college graduates or anyone with less than two years of work experience who is interested in a career in technology. ThoughtWorks boldly set a goal of hiring 50% women for this program, and we have met or exceeded that goal with every new, incoming class because we cast a wider net in order to find more diverse talent. Women and other underrepresented minorities who joined the company through ThoughtWorks University have since gone on to become leaders of our business.
  3. When it comes to supporting and growing emerging leader of our business, we made another bold decision by designating 50% of the North America Leadership Development Program slots for women. All program participants are paired with business leaders who serve as their development coach for the duration of the program. Once the participants have completed the program, they are expected to help grow, support, and coach the next generation of leaders.
  4. All new hires are paired with an onboarding buddy, and Associate Consultants who attend ThoughtWorks University are paired with a coach for the entire duration of their two-year program.
  5. We often provide our employees opportunities to take on stretch roles, and it is not uncommon to see “two in the box” to allow more than one person the opportunity to grow. Whenever we have “two in a box,” chances are one of them is a woman.
  6. Company recognitions are geared towards rewarding high-performing teams over heroic individual efforts. Such top-down signals encourage employees to collaborate with each other, and experience first-hand how having access to diverse thoughts and perspectives can be valuable to everyone.

More About Tarsha McCormick

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Reading: I am currently reading “Why Women. The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men” by Jeffery Tobias Halter. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffery recently at an event hosted by Black Women In STEAM discussing “The Future of Women and Diversity in the Workplace: The Leadership Imperative for Organizations,” where both Jeffrey and I were panelists.

Best Advice You’ve Ever Received: I have received a lot of great advice from various mentors and coaches throughout my career, but there are a few “nuggets” that remain with me and have transcended my various roles:

  • Do not be afraid to take calculated risks or step outside of your comfort zone, because comfort and growth cannot occupy the same space.
  • There is a lesson in failing, and as long as you have learned and grown from the situation, you should not view failure as something bad.
  • Listen to your body and know when you need to take time to refresh and renew yourself.