Dileshni Jayasinghe grew up swimming around the beautiful islands of her home in Sri Lanka.
From a young age, she actively pursued what she loved and dedicated herself to mastering new skills, even if they scared her. As a kid, this led her to learn to scuba dive and swim competitively. As an adult, she plunged into learning how to code from scratch and pursuing a career in software engineering, despite having grown up without a computer.
We sat down with Dileshni to hear more about her experiences, her work as a Senior Engineering Manager at PagerDuty, and her insightful advice for increasing diversity in tech.
Determination is Key for Growth
Dileshni’s family moved to Toronto, Canada during her last year of high school. While dealing with the challenge of a new culture and country, Dileshni was thrown into her first computer courses — Java and visual basics — with very little computer experience. “I liked it because it was challenging and it wasn’t something I had done before,” she explains. Though she struggled to keep up with the rest of her class, she enjoyed the challenge enough to pursueComputer Science as her college major the following year.
“I felt like it was this puzzle that you can solve and you can do so many cool things with it,” says Dileshni. She did a lot of her learning at university, which she admits was extremely hard, since she had to play catch up. “The first two years I thought about dropping out,” she says. “I wasn’t at the same level as the other kids who grew up learning computer science overnight.”
Through hard work and perseverance, Dileshni learned to give herself the grace to learn at her own pace. “My stubborn streak came out and I said, ‘No, I started this, I want to finish it,’' she says. “And I [ended up] developing really good habits about learning new things and giving myself space to learn on my own.”
Her determination opened the door to dive straight into her career. After gaining ten years of software engineering experience, she was offered an opportunity at PagerDuty, a multi-product platform that helps companies of all sizes proactively manage their digital operations. What first attracted her to the company was the people, who she deemed as inclusive and empathetic. That, along with the opportunity to develop her skills on a deeper level, convinced her to accept the offer.
Stretching Her Skills at PagerDuty
Another thing about PagerDuty that stood out to Dileshni was the opportunity for growth and development. “PagerDuty really encourages me to grow and gives me opportunities to stretch my skills and keep growing in my career” she elaborates. “At other companies, I felt like I had to ask for opportunities and always push to learn something new.” At PagerDuty, she has been learning and growing from day one.
For example, one of her managers offered her the chance to manage a second team of engineers in the Event Management group. “I still remember thinking, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?,’” she reminisces. “But he believed in me and he gave me this stretch goal and I surprised myself!” After successfully leading multiple teams, she was asked to lead the PagerDuty Process Automation (formerly Rundeck) teams. This was a bigger challenge, because it involved taking on a team from a group recently acquired by the company.
“My manager told me, ‘You're going to have to grow this team, launch a new product, learn how to work with a whole different set of people who are coming from a startup world,;” explains Dileshni. “I thought, ‘Well this is a big challenge, but I'll give it a shot.”
As a woman and person of color, Dileshni emphasizes PagerDuty’s work in creating places “that foster inclusion, well-being, and innovation,” which enables safe spaces to ask questions and have the resources to step into new challenges.
“PagerDuty is a place where people really like to help each other and see each other grow. All my coworkers are people who would say, ‘I'm not sure about this either, but let's work on it together and we'll figure this out.’”
Finding Ways to Support Your Peers
PagerDuty enables a strong community by providing learning and development programs, gender pay equity, generous paid parental leave, and employee resource groups (ERGs).
One of the ERGs is SisterDuty, a group of women, non-binary, agender, genderqueer, and ally Dutonians who regularly get together and give back to the community. PagerDuty also partners with local organizations that provide education for women and non-binary people in tech.
Apart from her strong community at work, Dileshni credits her confidence as a woman in tech to her group of mentors, women who cheered her on when she came back into the workforce after becoming a mother. Much of this support has led her to create initiatives that help bring visibility to women and people of color in tech.
One of these initiatives was a volunteer-based tech talk development platform for diverse professionals. When she spoke to tech event organizers, she noticed the speakers weren’t reflective of Toronto’s true tech community. “We wanted to see more people like us speaking at tech conferences,” explains Dileshni. “So I said, ‘Why don't we start something where we give people a welcoming space to do their first tech talk?”
Over five years, Dileshni and a group of volunteers supported countless women and people of color by giving them a space to practice their tech talks, receive feedback and training, and connect them to monthly events. She hopes to continue making an impact in the tech space by giving diverse professionals in tech new opportunities to grow in their careers and communities.
How to Bring Diversity to Your Team
“Diversity in tech is important because you get so many different perspectives from people,” says Dileshni. “If you have a diverse group that you're working with, you see how their careers are growing, and it gives you a vision for your own future.”
We asked Dileshni for three pieces of advice in creating places of diversity in the tech field:
- Listen to your team. Diverse perspectives are important. “Don’t just hire people from different backgrounds, but give them the space to share their ideas and feedback,” advises Dileshni. She recommends keeping it personal. “I prefer one-on-one conversations, not surveys. You have to find unique ways to communicate, ways that make sense for your team.”
- Be aware of your own bias. “We all have different biases, right? If you're lucky, someone will point it out,” she says. “You should thank them for it because it takes a lot of courage for someone to share that with you.” Being aware of your biases allows you to see how they affect people, and what work you can do to address them. “They're not sharing it as a negative thing. It's because they want you to understand that bias and how it might be affecting them,” Dileshni continues. “Communicating and setting expectations with your team is important. Let them know that it's okay for them to come to you about these things and give you feedback.”
- Create equity within your company and your team. “Managers have the ability to push for pay and promotion equity, and recognize the work that underrepresented folks do to hold teams together,” says Dileshni. “Recognize the work they do to create inclusive places of work and always look for ways to improve the work culture.”
To find out more about Dileshni’s work at PagerDuty or to discover similar opportunities, check out their job listings here.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.