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Qualcomm Pays $19.5M to Settle Gender-Bias Lawsuit

Elizabeth Miller Coyne

Qualcomm has paid $19.5 million to settle a gender-discrimination lawsuit that alleged women engineers at the company did not have the same access as men to equal pay and promotions, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

The settlement covers 3,300 women who currently work or did work in STEM jobs at the company during a four-year period. While the company denied any wrongdoing, as part of the settlement, Qualcomm agreed to change its policies to prevent pay and promotion shortfalls, the article said.

The lawsuit itself highlights many of the challenges Women in Comms has been covering and discussing over the past year, including: the fact that women hold less than 15% of the senior leadership roles at Qualcomm; practices that encouraged and rewarded employees who were available at all times -- and worked early and late -- which hurt all caregivers, both men and women; and Qualcomm's policy of offering raises and promotions based on a sponsorship system where supervisors recommended workers for promotions rather than making the positions available to all which created a "glass ceiling" for women, according to the complaint.

Hopefully this settlement will open the door to the implementation and expansion of programs at other tech companies as well -- programs that support, among many other things, mentoring and leadership training to get women into senior leadership roles; education on non-discrimination policies and unconscious bias; work schedules that allow employees to care for children and other family members; and training and upskilling opportunities for employees.

To talk more about the importance of programs like these, next week on Women in Comms radio, I'm going to be interviewing Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT). Level 3 has implemented several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within, in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs.

During this radio show, she'll be talking about the best ways to bridge your own skills gaps so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you'll have the chance to ask McGrath your questions live on the air. Register now and tune in next week. (See Level 3 & Bridging the Skills Gap.)

— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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8/12/2016 | 11:00:51 AM
Huge Settlement But Not Big Enough?
While $19.5 million seems like a big settlement, looking at the per person amount brings it down to about $6000. One wonders if that's a pretty low figure and not nearly enough to create a real warning to those companies imitating Qualquam.
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