A Q&A with Stephanie Garza, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
GitLab is a totally remote company that prides itself on maintaining a culture of results, not hours spent at a desk. Along with that flexibility comes the opportunity to build connections with a team that's not only dispersed around a single country, but the entire world. Needless to say, they're an extremely diverse company!
We got an opportunity to chat with the woman at the forefront of building GitLab's inclusive organization, and ask her about what she's looking for in the next GitLab team member! You can check out all of GitLab's open opportunities on PowerToFly here, and don't forget to 'Follow' them so when new roles are posted, you'll be the first to know!
What is your title and how long have you been working at GitLab?
Stephanie Garza: I'm the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist at GitLab and have been working here for just over four months.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in working at your company?
SG: The GitLab hiring process is incredibly transparent. It's outlined in our handbook. I advise prospective candidates to familiarize themselves with our six core values: collaboration, results, efficiency, diversity, iteration, and transparency.
While interviewing, you should be able to tie each value into a work related experience. Be prepared to answer STAR questions because the team wants to gain a sense of your experiences and perspectives. Technical assessments are administered for various roles. The ultimate goal of the team is to get a real sample of your work and knowledge that's specific to the role you're applying for.
What is your role, and what are some of your responsibilities?
SG: Diversity and Inclusion are fundamental to the success of GitLab. We aim to make a significant impact in the our efforts to foster an environment where everyone can thrive. We are designing a multidimensional approach to ensure that GitLab is a place where people from every background and circumstance feel like they belong and contribute.
Personally, I am driving the D&I Initiatives by building an internal community as well as partnering with organizations that support GitLab's mission.
I'm also helping to engage and activate diverse talent through relationships and networking with universities, professional organizations, community organizations, diversity forums and conferences, and other recruitment channels. I help to identify, pre-screen, and evaluate both passive and active candidates and consistently generate a healthy pipeline of high quality diverse candidates through creative sourcing techniques.
What do you love most about working at GitLab?
SG: GitLab is transparent. I loved joining a team that allowed me to hit the ground running. I was told to GO immediately. I never have to question a decision I feel passionate about because I know my team will fully support me.
If you could describe the culture at GitLab in one word, what would it be?
What traits are you looking for in your next team member?
SG: We are looking for someone who is eager, passionate and confident in their abilities.
Why did you decide to partner with PowerToFly?
SG: PowerTofly is committed to promoting and increasing diversity, which is right inline with GitLab's D&I initiative.
Tips and Tricks For Applying To GitLab
In this webcast, GitLab Recruiters Chloe Whitestone and Jacie Zoerb shares what makes a profile stand out and how maintaining a stellar online presence plays an integral role in professional growth. They will also give an inside overview of the GitLab interview and hiring process!
Once you've gotten your profile ready, head on over to GitLab's page on PowerToFly and click 'I'm Interested' to apply! You can also 'Follow' them to receive future job matches, event invites, and more!
Meet Lanice Sims of GitLab
Lanice Sims, a Business Development Representative at GitLab, was not looking for a career in tech but once she got an inside look at how technology is making our lives easier, she was hooked.
I reached out to Lanice to discuss her sales philosophy, the benefits (and challenges) of working in an entirely remote company, maintaining a strong work-life balance in a 24/7 world, and how companies who want to be inclusive and diverse must begin their journey with honesty.
Q: What is your role at GitLab and what are some of your responsibilities there?
A: As a Business Development Representative, I identify where a customer is in the sales and marketing funnel and take the appropriate action. Essentially, I make sure people who display interest in GitLab get the right information and assistance they need.
Q: You've mentioned that you didn't think too much about technology until a few years ago when you began working for a sports tech company. What prompted your decision to enter the tech world?
A: One of my friends started working at SportsEngine. She spoke highly of the manager and people, so I decided to interview and got the job. I wasn't looking for a role in tech, but once I started engaging with the platform at SportsEngine and saw how technology is used to essentially make our lives easier, I kinda fell in love.
Q: After now working in tech for several years, how has your perception of it changed?
A: My perception of it is still the same. I think with the right attitude and tools, you can build things that will help make our lives better and efficient.
Q: Can you elaborate a bit further about your sales philosophy?
A: I believe the point of sales is to help people navigate different solutions and help them land on the right one. People open up to me about issues they are having with their workflow and it is my job to help them decide if our solution makes sense for them.
Q: Sales can often seem like a 24/7 job. How do you maintain a strong work-life balance?
A: It's important for me to take care of myself. Before GitLab, I learned how to be efficient at work and even practiced not taking my computer home. We live in a world where everything seems urgent, but that is not the case. Even with my personal life I practice turning off my notifications.
Q: Much like PowerToFly, GitLab is a fully remote company. How do you maintain clear communication?
A: We practice asynchronous communication, which helps people understand the difference between urgent and important. With remote work, it can be easy to blend your work life with your personal, so we set boundaries.
Q: You came into your career somewhat unexpectedly. What advice would you give to other women who are recent college graduates and are trying to decide their career direction?
A: I would say you are smart, capable, competitive, and you need to go for it. I was told "no" for about a year. And it was hard dealing with that rejection but it also probably helped prepare me for sales. I had a good support system, so getting through the hard days was easier. I think building a community of people that will root for you is key. It makes a difference.
Q: What steps do you think companies, and GitLab in particular, can make to build a team that is racially and gender diverse?
A: If companies want to be "diverse and inclusive" they need to be honest about where they are currently. I think that acknowledging a problem exists is where we start, and recognizing that it may be different for different companies. We need to start challenging our biases. At GitLab, we recognize that we are far from perfect, which is a start. It's awesome we are a fully remote company as it allows people from all over the world to join and contribute to GitLab, while accommodating those who cannot and/or prefer not to work 9-5. We are also family friendly, which can be a huge plus for those with children.
From the snowy Olympics to our heated offices, we all need a good coach in our lives who can provide us with guidance, feedback, and that little extra push. That's how GitLab's UX Manager, Sarrah Vesselov, a ten-year veteran in the tech industry, sees herself. "As a coach, I'm facilitating two-way conversations between members of the UX Department, the organization, and the community," explains Vesselov. "These discussions are meant to influence and develop my department's skills, attitudes, judgments, and contributions."
In addition to her daily job of identifying UX improvements, gathering data to identify issues, and ultimately finding solutions to any possible shortcomings in GitLab's design, Vesselov has enthusiastically championed and coached teammates on reaching diversity and inclusion goals through her role interviewing applicants for GitLab's UX team. "In our handbook we state that each candidate should be interviewed by at least one female GitLab team member. I think this is just one important step to ensuring that we are inclusive as a company." While GitLab has partnered with forums dedicated to women in tech like PowerToFly, for Vesselov, it is vital to take action into her own hands. "On a personal level, I make it a point to share these opportunities across social media, Slack, and meetup groups dedicated to fostering more diversity in tech. I think it's important for women to hear about GitLab's culture from a woman who works here."
As a founding member and director of the Tampa Network of Women Code as well as a chapter leader for the Tampa district of Girl Develop It, Vesselov's work with women in STEM has stretched far beyond her day job with GitLab. "I have learned that women have much to offer to the tech community. I am continually impressed with the knowledge, passion, and resilience demonstrated by the women I encounter in these organizations," states Vesselov. "I have tried to ensure that we don't forget about these incredible women here at GitLab. That has meant making underrepresented groups a focus internally and externally. Internally, my department is conducting user research to understand how to make GitLab accessible to all, not just the status quo." GitLab is certainly doing their own part to hire underrepresented groups by offering their current employees a pretty sweet incentive. "GitLab offers a $2000 referral bonus for hires from teams with underrepresented groups," says Vesselov.
Still, despite her vigorous efforts, Vesselov acknowledges that reducing the stigma that engineering roles are better suited for men is an ongoing challenge which has lately faced a new roadblock: apathy. "I think there is a bit of compassion fatigue in the industry right now," admits Vesselov. "Women's groups have been very successful in spotlighting the need for diversity in tech and engineering. So successful, that I think some are tired of hearing about it, while others believe the problem has been 'automatically' solved. Denial and apathy threaten to undo some of the real advances we've made. I think it is imperative for companies to step up and do more to remove the stigma, normalize women in these roles, and make workplaces a safe place for women to contribute by addressing bias in the workplace, not just in the interviewing phase."
Luckily, the future of women in tech have both Vesselov and GitLab not only coaching them from the sidelines but participating on the field. "There are a lot of companies out there giving lip service about diversity when candidates apply, but they do little to foster inclusion once those women are there. That isn't GitLab."
To learn more about GitLab and their open roles, please visit their page on PowerToFly and click follow.