How Giving Back Helps Audible's Anshika Priyadarshee Push Her Industry Forward
"It's probably the longest I've spent in one place," says Anshika of the six years she's been living in the city and working from Audible's Newark headquarters. "It's been a nice way to get to know what is a pretty beautiful city."
Anshika started her career journey at Audible through their internship program, and she's long been an advocate of educational opportunities for women interested in engineering. At Audible, she participates in their Impact Group for Women in Tech and hosts field trips for organizations like Girls Who Code.
We sat down with Anshika to hear more about her work, why it's important for tech companies to reflect the diversity of their users, and how she works to make that possible.
Making tech for real people
As a software engineer, Anshika enjoys writing code that brings a new feature or product alive. But what she's come to love even more is the opportunity to see how her work impacts Audible users.
"A really big piece of fulfillment for me is seeing customer feedback," she says. "Recently, we launched a new type of product offering, something my team has been super involved in, and it was so exciting to go on Reddit and see the reactions of people who were really excited to use our product."
Anshika knows that in order to create products that work for everyone, tech workforces need to include people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. "Tech is influential. Depending on who's participating, it can shape how the future generations see things," she explains. "It's important to have that representation because if you don't, you have a whole segment of the population that gets left behind. You want to address the needs of each group," she says, highlighting how employee resource groups, called Impact Groups at Audible, such as Women in Tech, which she's a member of, as well as others like AudiblePRIDE, Unidos@Audible, Women@Audible, Moms@Audible, and the Black Employee Network provide vital perspective on Audible projects.
Bringing in the next generation
When Anshika first started her career, she had a preconception that computer science was something dry. "Once I got into it, I recognized there's actually so much more you can do with it. There's an element of creativity that wasn't necessarily conveyed," she says.
That's part of what inspired Anshika to get so involved with Audible Cares, her company's community giving efforts, and to lead specific projects through the Women in Tech Impact Group like field trips with Girls Who Code. "I'm hopefully changing the dialogue on what CS means to everyone else," she says.
As part of those community service initiatives, Anshika and other engineers at Audible mentor young women interested in tech, encourage their studies, provide advice, and give them a glimpse into different career paths. Anshika and her team participate in panels, where they talk about topics like building a spirit of resiliency, recognizing the power of failure, and building careers that work for them. "It's pretty impactful, especially meeting students who are a bit closer to making their decisions for which careers they want and being able to take part in their journey," says Anshika. They also host workshops for students to experience hands on code writing in a terminal while working from a set of prompts.
In pre-pandemic times, the field trips also included a tour of the Audible Studios where the magic happens. "It's pretty exciting for them to see how we actually go from book to voice experience," says Anshika, whose personal favorite listen is When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi.
But despite the pandemic, Anshika continues to make connections with the next generation and encourage their dreams. "A different type of barrier has gone down because we don't need that physical presence, so it opens up the door for a lot of other people to participate," she says. She's hosted virtual workshops and partnered with college students as they consider careers in tech. "Ideally, [we'd] give everyone exposure to it," she says.
"Giving back is good for the future of tech," says Anshika, and it's also good for Audible as a company and its employee satisfaction and retention. She really appreciates how the opportunities she's had to participate in community involvement and community service have enhanced her career. "It's been a great way to meet people [at Audible] I wouldn't have normally connected with if I just stayed within the scope of my team," she says. "Whether it's meeting with principal engineers in Seattle to get their ideas on effective workshops or working with our executive sponsors to get input on our direction, it's been very impactful career-wise, and a different way of understanding how people learn and work at Audible."
Combining her engineering work with her community work has empowered Anshika to ensure that the future of tech is a diverse, representative, and inclusive one. If you're interested in doing the same, check out Audible's open roles here.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
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