GitLab’s UX Manager On Battling “Compassion Fatigue” That Can Undermine Diversity in Tech
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.
Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought about a whole host of changes and challenges for workplaces and employees. One of the most notable? Virtual interviewing. With most on-site interviews on hold for the foreseeable future, it's important that you be prepared to make a great first impression—virtually.
Women Founders & CEOs Share Their Tips
If you're anxious about looking for a new job right now, you're not alone. We've talked before about how you can land a job in the midst of COVID-19, but today we wanted to share advice from some of the experts who spoke at our inaugural Diversity Reboot Summit.
If you're struggling with perfectionism:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="824ce73e30a279a266a5dd91047dd6f5"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y58Luzbv_vw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a computer programmer looks like and does. Since her viral TED Talk, "Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection" resonated worldwide, Reshma has been on a mission to inspire women to leave socially-ingrained perfectionism behind and rewire themselves for braver, bolder lives. Reshma talked with Zeryn Sarpangal, Chief Financial and People Officer, Code For America, about how women can work to be brave, not perfect, as they look for new opportunities. </em></p>
If you're looking to pivot into tech (and land a remote job):<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80353e84513d2d043db309aaa94d457a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZaPMxG_5C40?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>Adda Birnir, CEO of Skillcrush, shares her tips for getting the skills you need to land a remote job, even if you don't have a tech background. Skillcrush is an online tech-education company that helps their women make a career change into tech. </em></p>
If you need an inside connection:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e38baadbe67361bff0eb4b95a5d2ade3"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gjK8kjosZe8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>How will we connect with others professionally as social distancing continues? During this session, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network; Natasha Green, Sr. Local Communities Manager at AnitaB.org Initiative; and Dee Poku-Spalding, Founder and CEO of WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) share their expert networking advice with Organized SHIFT CEO Landi Spearman.</em></p>
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