Getting Comfortable with Discomfort: A Conversation with Procore's Kellie Persson
Kellie Persson was at the WWDC17, Apple's annual conference for developers, when she heard Michelle Obama give an answer about why there weren't more Black women in tech.
"'You're asking too late,'" Kellie remembers the former First Lady saying. "'If you're asking when you're trying to hire people, you need to go back to the beginning, find out why these young women aren't interested or what causes them to fall out of love with it. You start at the beginning.'"
Kellie, who is now a Sr. Software Engineer at cloud-based construction management software company Procore, is a success story of that early intervention.
She joined her elementary school's computer club, where she enjoyed playing games and designing a printable book starring Garfield. That interest continued into her senior year of high school, when she learned programming.
When she started at Spelman College, Kellie thought she wanted to be a patent lawyer, to combine her love for math and science with a reliable career path. But her deep-seeded passion for engineering won out after she took her first computer science classes.
We sat down with Kellie to talk about her experience studying amongst other Black women and then going to work in a field where she was often an "only," how she's learned to show up as her full self at work, and how she has experienced the Procore community.
"You just have to show up"
According to research done by the National Science Foundation, only 1.6% of engineers in 2015 were Black women.
That's not the experience Kellie had at Spelman, though. Being a student at the historically Black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta meant that Kellie was surrounded by other high-achieving Black women just like herself—and that the faculty had opted in to teach exactly that group.
"Spelman has a really competitive entry. When you start, it's like a reset, almost a level playing field. Everybody's smart. It sets up an environment where you don't know anything other than to be your best self," says Kellie. "You're not going in there talking with teachers who you feel don't value you or don't see your worth. You just have to show up, and that's a very big advantage."
Kellie learned that she had to show up and give her very best when she wrote a paper on The Tempest, a play she'd read in high school, and got a "D minus minus minus" on it. "It didn't knock my confidence," says Kellie, "but it helped me to see that I do have to show up as my best self."
Spelman gave her opportunities to test her confidence, and most importantly, to do so amongst a community of other women that proved that Kellie wasn't an anomaly. "I realized I wasn't an 'only' any more," she says. "Even if I didn't see a lot of me reflected in my workplace, I knew that we were out there."
Stepping away—and stepping back up
When Kellie began her career in engineering post-grad, she was plenty confident, but still felt decidedly outside of the "club" of mostly white men in her department.
"It felt like certain privileges or promotions or things were extended to members of the club," she says. And when Kellie decided to start a family, it "wasn't celebrated."
"I felt that I was held back because of choosing to have a family," says Kellie. She ended up stepping away from her field for about four years. She considered doing a master's program in dietetics, to line up with her lifelong interest in nutrition and wellness, but ended up deciding that going back to work in engineering was right for her and her family.
At her first job back, she had to learn how to develop in iOS, and that shook her—but just for a moment. "It hit me hard, like 'did I ever know what I was doing? Was I just faking it this entire time?'" says Kellie. "But I was able to tap back into what I had learned so many years prior at Spelman. That came back."
She especially remembered lessons from one of her mentors, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne. "She was a firecracker, she had all this passion and she didn't try to dumb it down. I realized from her that you can be yourself. How exuberant or passionate you are shouldn't be offensive to people, and if it is, that's not your problem."
When Procore reached out about a job opportunity, Kellie was intrigued. Two former coworkers were working there and told her great things about the role, and her family had roots in the construction field. "I understood that space, I understood why it was such a need," she says.
As a Sr. Software Engineer, Kellie is committed to creating great, reliable products for Procore's customers. "Who wants to use an unstable product? If you can't rely on it, just imagine how our clients feel," she says.
Feeling a sense of belonging as a black woman in tech
The racial reckoning of the last year or so, stemming from George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, has led to conversations at many American workplaces that mostly-white leaders weren't practiced in having.
"Some people have never had to be an only, or be uncomfortable. And especially recently, there have been a lot of uncomfortable things that have come up and people don't know how to deal with it. That doesn't feel good to them, but people need to learn to sit with their discomfort and think about it," says Kellie of her experience talking about racism at work.
"It's not other people's job to make you feel comfortable—especially people like me. We've been in uncomfortable spaces and we didn't have someone try to make us comfortable; we had to deal," she adds.
She's found, though, that Procore's leadership has been willing to sit with those uncomfortable topics and to listen. "One of the best things that came out of that with Procore is not trying to run away from [problems], but acknowledging why don't we have a lot of people of color, why don't we have a lot of women, and saying 'let's do something about it,'" says Kellie.
Last summer was a hard time for many Black Americans, including Kellie, who says that the only meetings she showed up to with her camera on the week of George Floyd's death were those hosted by Procore's ERG for Black employees. "I needed that support group. I wasn't trying to explain to anybody. I just needed to talk to individuals who understood where I was at. I showed up every day and I did my job, but I didn't want to answer questions of how I was doing and 'what can I do to be better?'" remembers Kellie.
Later on, she also participated in listening sessions between that ERG and Procore's leadership. "They talked to each one of us," she says. "I felt valued and I felt seen."
Staying a rockstar
When Kellie thinks of where she'd like to be in five years, she has a pretty clear vision: "I just wanna try to be a rockstar."
"I want someone to, when they speak about me, not praise me, but talk about how I had a positive impact on them," she adds.
One key way she's able to make an impact? Leading by example: working hard, and showing up authentically, even when it makes others uncomfortable.
That's a lesson that she hopes everyone, but especially other Black women interested in tech, take to heart. "There are people that are rooting for you," she says. "You just have to go find them."
If you want to find your people at Procore, check out their open roles.
Thank you so much for attending the June event in our 2022 Diversity Reboot Series, Pride: Championing LGBTQIA+ Leaders and Allies.
This three-day event was packed with great talks, amazing speakers, and was fully made possible by our wonderful sponsors.
Thank You To Our Sponsors:
Featured Topics Included:
- Transitioning As A College Athlete
- Asexuality: The Overlooked Letter in the Acronym
- The Military of the Future is Trans-Inclusive
- Supporting Queer People in Rural Communities
- A Leader, an Ally...What Does That Mean?
- Investigating The Intersection of LGBTQIA+ and Disability
Check out some of the work from our amazing speakers:
- Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva
- The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion by Dr. Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW (she/her)
As part of our summit, PowerToFly was honored to make donations to the following organizations:
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable Companies
Sustainability is more important now than ever.
Companies use huge amounts of our planet’s resources, and they in turn have huge impacts — positive and negative ones. While a few generations ago, it seemed as if the Earth’s resources were infinite, we now know how false that is.
That’s why it’s critical that sustainability be at the integral to a company’s makeup, prioritizing protecting the resources we do have left and having positive impacts on the environment.
We asked some of our partner companies to share what they do to promote positive environmental impact and sustainability. For some of them, solving environmental issues is part of their core DNA and others have taken on initiatives outside of their own business objectives to leave the world a better place than how they found it. Keep reading to hear what they said!
Collins Aerospace —
As a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry, Collins Aerospace is in a unique position to make a positive impact on sustainable aviation. We innovate for – and with – our customers to drive more sustainable solutions.
Collins Aerospace has joined in the Fly Net Zero commitment announced in October 2021 by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). As an active supporter of the industry’s goal to achieve net-zero civil aviation carbon emissions by 2050, our commitment is stronger than ever. At Collins our sustainability roadmap focuses on three pillars:
1. Engagement with our stakeholders - our customers, suppliers, shareholders, communities and employees – to collaboratively set the standards for a sustainable future of the aviation industry in terms of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) performance.
2. Our Technology Roadmap focusing on innovative and disruptive solutions to improve aircraft energy and operational efficiency and to enable alternative power sources, in particular Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), hydrogen and hybrid-/electric propulsion.
3. Our Industrial Road Map focusing on sustainable production and products – including GHG reductions through energy efficiency and use of green energies, substitution or reduction of chemical substances, reduction of water consumption as well as recycling and waste management.
For more information please refer to our website at https://www.collinsaerospace.com/Sustainability
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Okta’s climate strategy is focused on reducing emissions in 4 ways: reducing consumption, electrification, purchasing renewable electricity to match 100% of our global office and workforce electricity consumption, and engaging our vendors, as over 90% of our emissions are from our value chain. We strive to incorporate equity into our work. For example, we purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) with a social benefit, such as CA Bright Schools Solar and energy justice RECs - community solar that reduces electricity costs for low-income residents via Solar Stewards.
Learn more about Okta here.
Established in 2012, Vanguard's community gardens are planted, maintained, and harvested by crew volunteers who donate the produce raised to local food banks, pantries, and centers.
Gardens in Pennsylvania and Arizona raise a variety of produce, including tomatoes, peppers, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, carrots, and eggplant.
In addition, the community garden teams host periodic garden parties, workshops, and cooking demonstrations, where crew can learn more about what is being planted, ask questions about their own personal gardens, and network with other volunteers. All produce is grown organically, so there are opportunities to learn the latest in organic agriculture.
Learn more about Vanguard here.
Sustainability is a key component of Nokia’s strategy and purpose of creating technology that helps the world act together. We believe digitalization and connectivity solutions are critical to resolving many of the global problems facing society.
We take a two-pronged approach. We maximize our handprint while minimizing our footprint across environmental and social issues, supported by robust governance and responsible and ethical business practices.
We realize we cannot do this alone, and we call for accelerated digitalization and enhanced connectivity, greater multi-party, multi-discipline collaboration and the establishment of sustainable platforms that encourage innovation.
Learn more about Nokia here.
EnerSys is the global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications and has been for over 100 years. At our core, EnerSys delivers solutions that meet our customers’ most critical energy services and storage challenges. We also enable our customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and provide affordable and reliable access to energy – often referred to as “climate technology.” Our products support a wide range of industries and applications, from ensuring the reliability of broadband in rural communities to powering submarines and satellites to the manufacture and distribution of food supplies and critical health infrastructure.
Learn more about Enersys here.
At Google, we are celebrating the opening of our Bay View office — an all-electric, net water positive campus with the largest geothermal installation in North America. To deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time. The campus is also on track to be the largest project certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).
Learn more about Google here.
Waters Corporation —
Waters has committed to reducing its Scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 35% from a 2016 baseline by 2025. As part of this commitment, we are increasing our use of renewable energy, phasing hybrid and electric vehicles into our service fleet, and incorporating green building principles into our facilities management practices. We are also taking steps to measure and reduce the environmental impact of our products, our packaging, and our supply chain. In addition, we encourage our employees around the world to be sustainability leaders in their communities. For more information, please see our most recent Sustainability Report.Learn more about Waters Corporation here
As a global company, Pluralsight is committed to positive corporate citizenship and to continuously improving efficiency as we scale. We’ve implemented several initiatives that will help reduce our carbon footprint, including new remote/hybrid work policies and we’ve recently signed a climate pledge that sets us on the path to becoming carbon neutral. Through this pledge we plan to set clear greenhouse gas (GHG) annual reduction targets and also invest in ways to proactively offset the balance of our GHG emissions to achieve net zero. This plan will also support our team members in their involvement in local sustainability initiatives.
Learn more about Pluralsight here.
Expedia Group —
In 2019, Expedia Group partnered with UNESCO to create the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge which aims to promote sustainable travel, community resilience and heritage conservation globally. Signatories can learn about sustainable practices for their business, and together we can drive positive change in the travel industry for future travelers. The UNESCO Pledge now has 4,200 hotels committed to concrete, transparent and achievable action.
Learn more about Expedia Group here.
At UKG, we care deeply about our environmental impact and our responsibility to take care of the world in which we live and work. Our primary environmental impacts relate to our own energy consumption, as well as the energy consumption of UKG hardware products, our business travel, and the consumption of natural resources through our activities and procurement processes. Our recent and ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint, including both our own corporate output and the sustainability and environmental practices of our trusted suppliers and vendors, are a critical component of our ESG Initiative.
Learn more about UKG here.
CDW is committed to protecting the environment by continuing to find ways to manage our business with increasing efficiency and understanding the full extent of our environmental impact.
Our efforts include participating in multiple electronics recycling programs, consistently meeting and exceeding our waste diversion goal of 90% at our US distribution centers, and implementing smart packaging solutions that maximize both product protection and material efficiencies.
We also recognize that our greatest opportunities to impact the environment lie in our supply chain and our ability to work with our partners to address issues such as climate change and waste reduction. For example, more than 75% of our US shipments are handled by carriers with Net Zero emissions targets.
Learn more about CDW here.
At Moody’s, we are doing our part to protect the environment and tackle climate change. We are committed to achieving net-zero emissions in our operations and value chain by 2040 – 10 years earlier than the Paris Agreement goals – and to aligning our relevant products and services to net-zero. We also offer market participants climate solutions to help them better understand the risks and opportunities presented by climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Learn more about Moody’s efforts and progress in our 2021 Stakeholder Sustainability Report and 2021 TCFD Report.
Learn more about Moody’s here.
Wolters Kluwer —
At Wolters Kluwer we’re not only helping our customers create a safer, cleaner world - we’re doing it ourselves!
In 2021, Wolters Kluwer launched a sustainability program called ENGAGE and to celebrate the contributions employees made, this year we held the Global Sustainability Awards.
Colleagues in our Enablon business won an award for partnering with volunteer organisations around the globe including Chicago Region Tree Initiative in the US, SUPclean-up in the Netherlands, and the Calthorpe Community Garden in the UK.
80 Enablon volunteers spent more than 300 hours planting trees and clearing litter from waterways and beaches, helping raise awareness across Wolters Kluwer of the importance of sustainable practices while giving back to local communities.
Learn more about Wolters Kluwer here.
As the world’s largest recycler of aluminum, sustainability is implicit in everything we do at Novelis. Our ambition is to be the world’s leading provider of low-carbon, sustainable aluminum solutions that advance our business, industry and society toward the benefits of a circular economy. We’re guided by our sustainability goals, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in energy intensity, a reduction in water use, and a reduction of waste sent to landfills by 2026. Cultivating a diverse and engaged employee base will be our greatest enabler in achieving these goals.
Learn more about Novelis here.
Sun Life —
Sun Life views climate change as a defining issue of our time. We’re working to address climate change and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. We have set a goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for both our investments and operations. We're also committed to integrating climate strategies across our businesses and working collaboratively with our Clients, stakeholders, and the industry at large, towards this common goal.
To help us expand on our commitments and strategies, Sun Life recently appointed Paula Haschig as our new Vice-President, Climate Change. Learn more in our latest Sustainability Report.Learn more about Sun Life here
Key to solving the world’s most pressing issues: climate, health equity, poverty, racial justice, and education, is data.
With customers around the globe, Splunk is uniquely positioned to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.
Learn more about Splunk here.
GoTo is committed to maintaining carbon neutrality. Our permanent move to a remote-centric workforce has reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions across all scopes. To account for the shift in our employees’ work locations, we purchase certified offsets for the emissions they generate during work hours, both in the office or at home, as well as for necessary corporate travel. We also procure 100% renewable electricity for our global operations by purchasing Green-e certified RECs to match our global electricity usage. Our data centers have high ratings from Greenpeace and we engage our global employees through our Global Green Team.
Learn more about GoTo here.
Raytheon Technologies —
As part of Raytheon Technologies’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) vision, Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) is working toward ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy and water, minimize waste, and increase renewable electricity by 2025. Our ESG strategy guides all that we do, and particularly emphasizes purposeful connections with community. For example, over the past year RI&S has participated in various events like community clean-ups in McKinney, Texas; a food bank packing line in Plano, Texas; an Earth Day plant seed swap in Goleta, California; and a leadership team clean-up at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
From greener buildings to cleaner cars, smarter factories to bigger blockbusters, Autodesk technology is used by millions of people to design and make millions of things that impact billions of lives.
At Autodesk, sustainability is about making that impact positive across three impact opportunity areas: Energy & Materials, Health & Resilience, Work & Prosperity.
All this begins by being a better business ourselves. When we improve the impact of our own operations, we gain the knowledge and credibility to help our customers improve theirs. And by building a culture of belonging, together we thrive.
Learn more about Autodesk here.
We take a very broad view of sustainability and social impact, with our environmental focus rooted in both our climate responsibility and systemic, environmental justice concerns. Last year we launched our climate justice grantmaking program; with input from our EnviroDuty affinity group, we selected four incredible climate justice organizations to support: Earth Guardians, Earth Hacks, The Solutions Project, and OpenAQ. We are also taking our own responsibility seriously, reporting our first greenhouse gas inventories and preparing to set targets in line with the global need to limit warming to 1.5°C to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Learn more about PagerDuty here.
American Express —
American Express is committed to advancing climate solutions and enhancing its operations and capabilities to meet customer and community needs in the transition to a low carbon future. In 2021, the company committed to net-zero emissions by 2035 and has been CarbonNeutral® powered by 100% renewable electricity across its global operations since 2018. The company set a goal to pilot low-carbon product innovations and is making new digital products and services available to help customers understand their carbon footprint. To support climate action through community giving, the company will provide at least $10 million by 2025 to backing low-carbon communities.
Learn more about American Express here.
At Esri, we believe that it is everyone’s duty as global citizens to protect our world’s resources. As a business, Esri practices sustainability by operating on solar power in many of its buildings, using electric cars for corporate vehicles, providing EV charging stations for employees, donating and planting trees in the community, and more. Some of Esri’s key initiatives are conservation and sustainability. Influencing and partnering with customers to build a sustainable future through geographic information system (GIS) technology is what drives us. You can read more about these initiatives at https://www.esri.com/en-us/about/about-esri/why-we-do-it.
Learn more about Esri here.
Pitney Bowes —
In 2021, Pitney Bowes was named a Climate Leadership Award winner. We have committed to be carbon-neutral in our operations by 2040. We are also proud to announce that we have increased our share of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
Learn more about Pitney Bowes here
BlackRock has a multi-pronged strategy to address climate-related risks and promote positive environmental impact. One commitment that we’re proud of is The BlackRock Foundation's recent commitment of $100 million to Breakthrough Energy's Catalyst Program, which will help accelerate the development of climate solutions necessary to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
In addition to our strategies as an asset manager and as a company, our people play an important role in creating and leading sustainability within our offices. Our Green Team Network is responsible for stewarding conservation efforts throughout our offices and within the communities in which we operate. The 49 teams organize activities including elimination of single use plastics, rebuilding our local ecosystems, taking personal responsibility for our own net zero journeys, matching donation opportunities, educating all employees on climate and environmental issues, and so much more!
Join us as we provide financial security and overall well-being of people and communities around the world.
Learn more about BlackRock here.
We loan because… we want the world to be a better place
At Kiva, our mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, and this mission extends beyond just financial poverty. We aim to help increase access to basic services as well, from clean water and sanitation, to getting sustainable energy in homes. Green loans on Kiva help borrowers switch to environmentally friendly products that reduce pollution, promote sustainable practices and help families succeed. Read more about this HERE
Made of individual kiva lenders who are concerned about the environmental impacts of their loans, this is a forum to notify each other of environmentally sustainable loans that are needing funding. Sustainable development projects include recycling, solar, re-use, organic agriculture, health, etc.
Learn more about Kiva here.
Cummins is committed to powering a healthier environment, stronger communities, and robust and inclusive economies. Our PLANET 2050 environmental sustainability strategy, and our Destination Zero™ product strategy are driven by decarbonization and circular economic principles that promote economic growth while using fewer of the world's resources.
Learn more about Cummins here.
Finding new ways to help the planet and the people around us is some of the most important work we do at 1Password. This year, in celebration of Earth Day and giving back, we partnered with Evertreen and sponsored the planting of 10,000 trees. Additionally, in support of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance sending hundreds of youth to the UN Ocean Conference Youth and Innovation Forum, we created custom reusable tote bags for each attendee. We also participated in a water bottle giveaway in partnership with Ocean Bottle, with one reusable bottle preventing 1000 plastic bottles from entering the ocean. We know there is always more to do to support our planet, and we're excited to continue doing the work alongside these partners.
Learn more about 1Password here.
Samsara is in a unique position where we help our customers to be more efficient, safe, and sustainable by delivering actionable insights that improve their operations.
“Our customers keep the world running. Our solutions help them digitize their operations so that they can cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce safety and security incidents, and make the world a better place.” - Sarah Patterson, CMO at Samsara
For example, a transportation solutions customer saw a 50% reduction in vehicle idling and a 2% increase in fuel efficiency—resulting in 150,000 gallons of fuel saved and over $500,000 in savings per year.
Learn more about Samsara here.
The biggest thing we’ve done is go 100% remote for those that want to, and we are currently downsizing our office space. Prior to going remote, we issued monthly green credits to those that used public transportation or biked/walked to work. When we had chefs, they used local farms and purveyors. We were also the first commercial customer of Lettuce Grow and had several hydroponic towers on site from we which we harvested our greens for lunch. Participation in community service and clean ups of our local water ways is also an important part of our charity work.
Learn more about uShip here.
“Our sustainability approach at Relativity is to provide our employees with the tools, resources and working groups they need to be more sustainable in both their work and personal lives. We focus on growing responsibly as a company in regards to sustainability metrics, our carbon footprint, and so on – but we also focus on educating and empowering our employees to make thoughtful decisions in their work and home life and become stewards of a sustainable future. We strongly believe that the impact of our sustainability program should be far reaching beyond our offices.”
— Amanda Fennell, Chief Security Officer and Chief Information Officer
Learn more about Relativity here.
SumOfUs is 20,425,844 people stopping big corporations from behaving badly.
On environmental justice & sustainability — we believe in safeguarding our communities and the planet from the impacts of climate change. We advocate for Indigenous land rights, the safety and wellbeing of climate refugees, reducing plastic waste and water pollution, and preventing habitat destruction
HERE are some of our current campaigns we’re very proud to share with you.
Learn more about SumOfUs here.
As a purpose-driven company committed to long-term value creation, ServiceNow has made Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) a strategic imperative across our organization. With digital experiences that make work flow across the complex ESG landscape, ServiceNow is making progress and driving sustained impact for the planet. We’ve achieved 100% renewable electricity and carbon neutrality in business operations, travel and work from home. Additionally, we’re engaging in responsible procurement—33% of our suppliers by spend have set or committed to science-based targets.
Learn more about ServiceNow here.
Collective Insights — Community Connection at Collective Insights
At Collective Insights, our community is more than just something we are part of. You'll find us lending a hand or sharing a donation, but more than that, we're invested in making an impact! From the beginning, giving back to our city has been an integral part of Collective Insights' mission.
Chattahoochee River Keepers (CRK), one of our main community partners, has a mission of ensuring there is enough clean water in the Chattahoochee River now and for future generations. Collective Insights partners with CRK annually to serve alongside hundreds of volunteers to keep our community clean.
Watch to learn more about how we support our Atlanta community through short-term initiatives and long-term sustainable efforts.
Learn more about Collective Insights here.
Pax8 provides positive environmental impact by recycling, utilizing power management in all of our suites, auto shutdown of lighting and appliances. We use environmentally friendly kitchen utensils and supplies. Our environmental group organizes e-waste events for all of our hardware that has reached end of life, as well as several other events to help clean up the environment.
Learn more about Pax8 here.
As a leader in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting, sustainability is part of who we are at Workiva. To reduce our environmental impact and provide a way for our employees to safely dispose of electronics, we’re hosting a company-wide E-Waste drive in August. We’re also piloting a new initiative to power down our offices on select Fridays to measure the potential impact we can have in reducing our carbon footprint. By eliminating single-use plastics in all our offices, along with recycling in many of them, we’re doing our part to take care of the planet.
Learn more about Workiva here.
Light & Wonder — Every day is Earth Day at Light & Wonder!
As part of Light & Wonders commitment to invest in our planet and serve as environmental stewards, hundreds of employees come together annually to support a local community cleanup as a partner in The Great Global Cleanup. Employees globally participate in the flagship volunteer program and worldwide campaign to remove millions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks — reducing waste and plastic pollution, improving habitats, and preventing harm to wildlife and humans. Light & Wonder employees take action on Earth Day each year to participate and mobilize with millions of volunteers to keep our communities and clean and healthy.
Light & Wonder also supports The Canopy Project, funding reforestation efforts worldwide that plant trees across vast ecosystems, with many species completely reliant on them for their survival. Reforestation is an effective method to fight against climate change while also maintaining the many benefits forests provide. Light & Wonder donated more 7,500 trees in the last year alone and remains committed to support reforestation projects is an effective method to fight against climate change.
Learn more about Light & Wonder here.
Back Market —
We're rebels with a cause.
Spurred into action by the megatons of e-waste (electronic waste) we produce each year thanks to our collective obsession with new tech, Back Market is challenging people to rethink their tech consumption.
Since 2014, through the sale of refurbished smartphones, Back Market has prevented:
- The emission of 580,144,582.08 kg of CO2
- The use of 1,878,480,190 kg of raw materials
- The consumption of 498,015,680,400 L of water
- The production of 1,274,162.93 kg of electronic waste
Learn more about Back Market here.
At McMaster-Carr, an e-commerce company with five US facilities, we are increasingly aware of the limits of natural resources. Although our operations are not particularly burdensome on the environment, we do our part to create a sustainable economy by focusing on reducing energy and emissions, leveraging recyclable materials, reducing waste and water use and offering our customers products that support sustainability. Specifically, at McMaster-Carr we have achieved reducing energy consumption and emissions by 15% and 25% respectively over a five-year period and continues to divert more than 90% of waste from landfills.
Learn more about McMaster-Carr here.
Northrop Grumman —
Northrop Grumman incorporates environmental sustainability into our business process and operations and prioritizes strong environmental management.
- We are committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our operations by 2035. To do this, we will continue to emphasize efficiency, invest in low and zero carbon energy solutions and incentivize operations-related emissions reductions through the company’s non-financial metrics.
- Our company completed installation of our newest solar power-generating system at our Rolling Meadows, Illinois, site in 2021.
- Also in 2021, we adopted additional processes to help our employees remain safe amidst the pandemic, while continuing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint, and using our past performance to help shape future goals with sustainability at the forefront.
- Learn more about our commitment to environmental sustainability.
Learn more about Northrop Grumman here.
Chainalysis’s Ashley Vaughan on Why She Finds Cybersecurity So Meaningful, and How More Women Can Find Their Niche in the Industry
How much money do criminals control today, and where is it?
These are some of the many questions that Ashley Vaughan, Senior Solutions Architect at blockchain data platform Chainalysis, spends her days working to answer.
“You learn more about a situation or problem by following the money than from any other resource or piece of information,” she explains. “Money doesn't lie. People can lie in text messages or other means, but the path of the money leads you to what you're trying to accomplish.”
Though Ashley always knew she wanted to work with computers, she found her way into roles in cybersecurity, and then specifically blockchain security, through networking and exposure — not by setting out to do so.
We sat down to talk about her career journey, as well as what advice she has for other women looking to make their mark in these burgeoning fields.
Resilience and Curiosity
Ashley doesn’t often give up, and credits some of that attitude to an obsession with soccer as a kid.
“Playing sports makes you a more resilient person, I think. You learn failure and risk, which are very applicable to my job and my career path,” she says.
That resiliency was a good thing, notes Ashley, because as a young girl, she wasn’t always encouraged to pursue what she was most interested in: math and science. A teacher early on had told her that she wasn’t good at math, and Ashley believed that narrative until high school.
“We really shouldn’t put those ideas in children’s minds, because it affects them for much longer than you might think,” she says of the experience. “But I’m the kind of person that when someone tells me I can’t do something, it makes me want to do it even more, and do it better.”
Finding out in advanced high school math classes that she actually was good at math turned into choosing a computer engineering major when she got to college.
Graduating during a recession in 2010 meant Ashley didn’t have the job market of her dreams, but after working in IT, she networked her way into a role in the cybersecurity department of a prominent DC law firm.
“They were getting hit left and right from social engineering and phishing attempts,” says Ashley. “Due to the sensitive nature of the work they dealt with, I was exposed to the darker realities of the digital era, and I began to see a new side to the world—one of real significance to national security.”
Specializing in Cybersecurity — and Finding a Home in the Private Sector
Inspired by what she was working on at the law firm, Ashley pursued a master’s in cybersecurity with a focus on counterterrorism.
“I wanted to help protect our country,” she explains. “I have a lot of family members who are former military, so that was a natural step for me.”
That led to her taking a contract role specializing in offensive security at a government agency that frequently worked with Chainalysis. After working with Chainalysis folks onsite, she was sold and started pursuing a position with the company.
“I wanted to help make sense of blockchain data for a bigger purpose, like assisting in the continued threat of ransomware activity against American interests,” she explains.
Although she credits her public sector work with providing a solid foundation in blockchain security, the private sector turned out to be a better fit for her.
“What I love about Chainalysis is that my colleagues are really happy people, and I’ve always felt welcome and not scared to ask questions,” says Ashley. “In past jobs, where I was one of five women in a group of 150, I felt a lot of pressure. I didn’t ever want to make a mistake. I felt as if I had to be a chameleon to match the social environment of my male counterparts.”
Blockchains are all about democratizing data, and Ashley likes working with a team of people of all backgrounds to help support that mission. At Chainalysis, Ashley works with internal product and engineering to show customers how Chainalysis data can help them use complex blockchain solutions to solve data problems — and catch bad guys.
“Sometimes we’re following a bad actor who’s tied to child sex trafficking. Being part of a coordinated operation to put a stop to things like that is really fulfilling,” she says.
3 Tips for Women Who Want to Find Their Place in Cybersecurity
For a long time, reflects Ashley, she just wanted to come into work, do her job, and feel supported, without feeling like she didn’t fit in or was representing her entire gender. Fortunately, she found what she wanted — and she hopes other women will find that, too. They can start their search by:
- Knowing they’re not alone in having tough experiences. “Everyone has different definitions for how you’re supposed to act or supposed to handle your emotions as a woman at work, and it’s exhausting. It’s like, ‘This is just me.’ I can’t repeat enough how tiring that is,” she says.
- Prioritizing self-directed learning. Although Ashley completed a master’s in cybersecurity, she emphasizes that there are many other routes into the industry, including self-study. Whether you get involved in programs like Girls Who Code or do self-paced learning through platforms like Udemy or Coursera, the important thing is that you pursue independent learning about topics that interest you, she says.
- Creating and maintaining relationships. “Really talking to people is almost a lost art,” says Ashley. “Getting together with someone who has the same sort of mindset and leveraging their knowledge, and making sure you keep in touch with people who help further your career, is a good move. Most of the places I got to professionally were based on my human connections.”
Nowadays at Chainalysis, Ashley is no longer one of five women in the office, and is excited to start paying it forward so that more people with backgrounds like hers can pursue their own professional success.
“We tend to feel more comfortable talking to people who might have our same gender or educational background, and being open and vulnerable with them,” she says. “Being a visible role model is really important to me.”
Check out Chainalysis’ open roles here!