Women In Tech In Seattle: 5 Amazing Women Setting The Scene
Although Microsoft and Amazon rest firmly in the Seattle area, it hasn’t always been a tech mecca like its distant Silicon Valley neighbor. And when it comes to women in tech, they weren’t necessarily flocking to the former grunge capital. “When we started over five years ago, it was very difficult to find other women founders, and the startup community in general was far less organized and accessible,” says Martina Welke, CEO and co-founder of Zealyst. Today the landscape has transformed. It not only sparkles with possibilities, but women are leading the way. “We have a world-class institution in the University of Washington … (and) a whole host of accelerated training programs and groups dedicated to providing access and opportunity to women …” Rebecca Lovell, the self described “Startup Yenta” says. Here are five standout women who are blazing tech trails in the Seattle startup, corporate and entrepreneurial worlds.
As the Director of Entrepreneurship and Industry for the City of Seattle, Rebecca knows firsthand why Seattle rocks for women in tech. “Not only do we have a world-class institution in the University of Washington, but a whole host of accelerated training programs and groups dedicated to providing access and opportunity,” she explains. Rebecca’s leadership role includes supporting high tech companies and finding dynamic career options for women and people of color. She says she is, “delighted that the White House has designated Seattle as a Tech Hire community, (connecting) candidates to accelerated training programs and internships/apprenticeships.” The city’s education and employer communities also support that mission. “Look no further than Tune House, an eight-bedroom house with free rent for women entering the UW Computer Science program,” she adds. Rebecca also points to allies, such as angel investor Jonathan Sposato, who has committed to only invest in startups with at least one woman founder.
Prior to her director position, Rebecca became Seattle’s first Startup Advocate after a decade of running and supporting tech startups. During her dynamic 18-month stint, she met with over 300 entrepreneurs and evaluated the impact of the city’s growing number of startups. “That enabled me provide support to community-based organizations and programs, more so than offering prescriptive, top-down solutions,” she recalls.
Outside of work, Rebecca has mentored entrepreneurs through Techstars for nearly six years. “Being a great mentor and teacher requires being an active listener and asking probing questions; asking people to explore, versus telling them how to think…I’ve taken these lessons to heart.” As an advocate for women in tech, Rebecca also has a secret for combatting gender bias. “I’d rather stand out than blend in, and have faith that whatever assumptions inform perceptions at the beginning of a meeting will be melted away by the substance and experience I bring to the party.”
Based in Seattle, Martina Welke is an enterprising startup CEO whose business is impacting workplaces globally. She, along with her business partner Britta Jacobs, cofounded Zealyst, an app that uses data and gaming to strengthen company culture by facilitating collaboration and employee interaction. Martina says that they came up with the exciting concept after evaluating their passions, market opportunities and how technology could make it happen. “At the time we saw many solutions that offered a superficial level of connection, but not much that was translating into relationships in the real world,” she explains. “We started layering games into the experience because we realized we needed a fun way to facilitate the connections we were seeding.”
Martina admits that it was challenging to find other female founders in Seattle when they first started building Zealyst about five years ago, but the tide changed. “Now there are many more opportunities to meet other founders, find mentors, and connect with resources,” she says. “Seattle is not perfect, but it is filled with amazingly generous and knowledgeable people who are willing to help.” As she focuses on growing her business, internationally, she stays plugged into the local tech scene, as a Board Member for Women in Tech (WiT). Martina says that her role has encouraged her to think beyond the scope of gender. “I’ve come to appreciate how complex and diverse the challenges facing minorities in the workplace are,” says Martina. “I firmly believe that the industry will be stronger if there are more voices contributing, and that will only happen if we can build organizations where individuals feel welcome and safe.”
When you write your first computer program at the age of five and start your first web company at 14, it’s no surprise that you will become a standout tech leader. Renée Hendricksen wears many hats as a software engineer for Travis CI, the Founding Board Member of Northwest Independent Ruby Development (NIRD LLC) and a co-founder/lead teacher of Seattle RailsBridge. All of her roles circulate back to her personal mission: “Helping people use technology in whatever industry they are in.”
With a diverse resume that ranges from business consulting and physics simulation to financial forecasting, Renée found her niche in entrepreneurship. She founded NIRD, a technical consulting business, in 2011. According to their LinkedIn page, NIRD partners with companies to help them build dependable, customized software. As head of the board, she now focuses on long term strategy, after promoting two employees to serve as CEOs. “A big part of my starting NIRD was to build a company I wanted to work for, that did great work for clients, but not at the expense of its people or diversity, says Renée. “It’s so wonderful to start a company that grows beyond yourself.”
She says she also finds joy in teaching Ruby on Rails workshops to new tech enthusiasts, through RailsBridge, an organization that supports diversity through coding. She and co-founder Elise Worthy, started the Seattle chapter after meeting Sarah Allen, one of the original RailsBridge cofounders, at a Ruby conference in 2010. “My students are typically people who have not had the advantages I’ve had in my life in terms of access to technology,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to have had a number of strong women who have encouraged me throughout my life to become a builder of technologies and founder of a company. I want to play that role for other women.”
According to her Twitter bio, Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack “has no chill.” She juggles many tech leadership roles as the co-founder and CEO of Fizzmint,an automated human resources service, founder of the Women in Tech Council and the leading author of Women in Tech.
Tarah decided to write Women in Tech, released in March, simply because it had never been done before. “The book is geared toward women who are considering getting into tech, or those already in a tech job who want to take their career to the next level. It combines practical career advice and inspiring personal stories from successful female tech professionals,” she says. Tarah also broke ground by creating the Women in Tech Council, to meet a need in the tech speakers circuit. “Often, the common excuse conference organizers use for not booking women (speakers) is that they couldn’t find a woman in (a particular) area of expertise,” she explains. “I created the Women In Tech Council to fix this problem and remove that excuse.”
The candid problem solver describes being a CEO as “inspiring, but not exciting.” It’s all about paperwork, vision and leadership, she says. “As the CEO, you must ruthlessly remove obstacles in the path of people you are leading, so they can achieve what they want to.”
With 20 years of experience in the industry, executive Carey Butler now leads the technology department at The Seattle Times. The family-owned, Pulitzer Prize-winning media company is the largest daily news source in Washington. According to Carey’s LinkedIn profile, she spearheads “all aspects of enterprise technology including mobile and digital product development, enterprise infrastructure and data center operations. Prior to her CTO role, the self-described liberal humanitarian was the Senior VP of Technology at Outerwall (formerly Coinstar), the company responsible for the Redbox movie and video game rental kiosks.
Carey, who supports workforce development, recently spoke on a women in technology panel at the annual Subscribed conference about how being a mom impacts her career. According to a recap of the event on Tamara McCleary’s blog, Carey’s practical advice focused on being just as intentional in your family life as in your professional life:
…be to be aware of the resources it takes to have a family and the importance of factoring resources into your timing. Secondly, she shared that despite working extensively, she and her husband made a commitment early on to be home and recreate with their children every weekend without fail. She extorted, “Don’t save weekends for housework!”
According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.
As we reflect on recent events and how they fit into a much larger history of discrimination, we're also taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of the AAPI community.
We asked several of our partner companies what they're doing to honor AAPI Heritage Month at work, and we were inspired by the range of responses, covering everything from campaigns to #StopAsianHate to educational events on AAPI history.
Here's what they're doing, in their own words:
Empowering authenticity - LogMeIn
"Our theme this year is AIM to Be Real. We are embracing our new company values and celebrating those who bring their authentic selves to work, who help create space to celebrate diversity of thought, and who give back to the API community. Our Asian ERG, Asians in Motion (AIM), is hosting several events: a discussion about bringing your authentic self to work with Jerry Won (Dear Asian Americans podcast); a refugee-led virtual cooking class; ERG Movie Club discussions featuring Bollywood films, and a virtual volunteer event where we will offer career development mentoring for young women across Asia."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Educating on current events — Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies is honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an enterprise-wide global town hall event – Real Talk: Building CommUNITY Together. Organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource groups across the company, employees will share their personal experiences and discuss ways to support Asian American Pacific Islander communities. The event will also feature prominent leading advocates from renowned civil rights organizations to provide insight into the national context surrounding recent events. We will also feature AAPI employees internally and on our social media channels."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning — Moody's
"Moody's is encouraging awareness, growth, and learning during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the following activities, led by our Multicultural Business Resource Group and DE&I team:
- Weekly newsletters featuring AAPI employee profiles and cultural resources
- Video screening and small-group discussions supporting #StopAsianHate
- Cultural panel discussion featuring employee stories
- Professional development activities
- External speakers speaking about Asian leadership"
Supporting professional development — Freddie Mac
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Freddie Mac – Together, We Are Stronger
Freddie Mac supports the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islander employees while promoting an increased awareness of the value they bring to the organization and our local communities. Our InspirASIAN Business Resource Group is hosting various activities throughout the month such as:
- Personal development session on empowerment led by a coach from our Employee Assistance Program.
- "Stop Asian Hate" lunch and learn geared toward discussing the hurdles facing the AAPI community.
- Fireside chat about racial injustice with leaders from our InspirASIAN and ARISE (employees of the African diaspora) BRGs."
Fostering inclusion, learning, and belonging – Nestlé USA
"At Nestlé USA, the Pan Asian Network (PAN), one of our many employee resource groups that support our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, will host a variety of events to honor and acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. These activities will foster greater inclusion, enhanced learning, and belonging for the AAPI community. PAN will highlight women's development in Asian cultures, Asian leadership and what their culture means to them, culinary innovation of Asian cuisine, intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Pan Asian community, as well as an enhanced learning watch party of the PBS movie 'Asian American.'"
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Promoting cultural literacy – Relativity
The Community Resource Group at Relativity
"For Relativity, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportune time to not only celebrate the rich AAPI cultures represented within our company, but to also foster awareness and allyship amidst the current rise of AAPI hate. RelAsians, our internal community resource group, has organized a few activities for May: a book club focused on AAPI heritage—because we feel it's never too early to gain cultural literacy, a weekly spotlight on AAPI Relativians, and a virtual event that takes attendees on a tour through an Asian grocery store, introducing native vegetables and staple ingredients for traditional home-cooked Asian recipes."
- Contribution from Neha Pant, Sr. Performance Engineer & Angie Ocasek, Sr. Specialist, Partner Enablement – Co-Chairs of the RelAsians Community Resource Group at Relativity
Learn more about Relativity here.
Creating transformative experiences – Facebook
"At Facebook, our APIs employee resource group's mission is to create transformative experiences for all APIs at Facebook, Inc through key cultural awareness and engagement highlighting the API community. To kick off APIHM, we will host a series of events and conversations for the community and its allies designed to support the API community around the theme, The SUM of Us, including:
- Letting Others In: a mindful discussion series that privileges intersectional voices, storytelling, feedback, and vulnerability as tools for building empathy and inclusion amongst organizations.
- Racial Healing Learning Session: specific to the API Experience focused on naming of experiences and emotional responses, understanding the body's responses to racial trauma, what the audience can do in the moment for self-care, and long-term strategies to overcome the effect of the traumatic experience.
- Bystander Training/self Defense Workshop"
Learn more about Facebook here.
Extensive and exciting programming — 2U
"At 2U, Inc. we'll be honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with extensive and exciting programming coordinated by our employee-led Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN). In a year marred by exceptional challenges APIN has centered activities around the ameliorating themes of joy, culture and wellness. Be it delighting in a ukulele mini concert, reading an interview highlighting an API coworker, winding down after too much screen time with a somatic healing session or engaging in a panel discussion with API tattoo artists, we have a packed month ahead with opportunities to support oneself and the API culture! Follow along @Lifeat2U on Instagram for more!"
Learn more about 2U here.
Amplifying voices and educating others – Smartsheet
"During APAHM, the API at Smartsheet community will be hosting several events and activities to educate others, amplify AAPI voices, and celebrate the AAPI community! We plan to kick off the month with a documentary viewing and discussion to learn about AAPI history, and hope to share personal stories from our AAPI employees throughout the month. We'll end with an opportunity for the community to celebrate itself by gathering together for fun and games, while eating food from local Asian-owned restaurants."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Rising together in sports and culture – NBA
"For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APEX is proud to present a multitude of celebratory activities, headlined by an NBA Family Virtual Town Hall and, with the NFL and MLB, an Asians in Sports & Culture Symposium themed "Together We Rise" featuring prominent Asian personalities from the sports world. We are also launching a PSA with an NBA star, honoring Eid-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, offering a bystander intervention training led by AAJC, and – because the celebration wouldn't be complete without food – hosting a sushi making class for our members."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Creating courageous conversations – Commvault
"This May, we are celebrating all our Asian/Pacific Islander employees, not just Asian Americans. We will spend the month learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of Asia through weekly events and activities led by our Multi-Culture ERG. Vaulters and external guests will teach us the history of practices such as yoga, origami, and Asian cuisines. We will also discuss topics like the rise of hate crimes against Asian people and the recent spike in COVID-19 in India. These activities and courageous conversations will engage our workforce and create support for our Asian and Pacific Islander communities around the world."
Learn more about Commvault here.
Honoring history through virtual events – Collins Aerospace
"Collins Aerospace supports our AAPI colleagues not only in May, but all year. Our parent company Raytheon Technologies hosted a virtual Town Hall last month to provide a safe space for open dialogue about recent events targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. In addition to this entity-wide event, our Asia Pacific ERG at Collins is hosting events that educate and honor the importance of Asian Pacific American history such as virtual Lunch & Tours spotlighting South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and India; and Thoughts & Support sessions. Site-specific events include virtual cooking class, and viewing PBS docuseries Asian Americans."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Highlighting new perspectives – MongoDB
"MongoDB will share daily historical facts, highlights of Asian American pioneers, and perspectives from our AAPI employees in a dedicated Slack channel. We will also be providing access to an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month webinar, organizing a trivia night, and holding Processing Together sessions for our internal AAPI community due to recent hate crimes happening across the globe. These sessions are a safe space for employees to share their stories and sentiments of what it is like as an Asian American in America today. (Read MongoDB employee Monica Lu's story about being an Asian American woman in tech here.)"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Spotlighting diverse communities – Bumble
"At Bumble, moments like heritage month celebrations are often our anchor to ensure we are spotlighting diverse communities. In alignment with AAPI Heritage Month in May, Bumble is rolling out a series of thoughtful programming to encourage internal education and around how to support the Stop Asian Hate movement and better serve the Asian community globally. The lineup of initiatives include:
- BuzzWord DEI Discussion Series with featured guest speakers: This conversation will focus on the Asian community within the context of larger cultural issues such as dating app experiences, fetishization, masculinity, and representation.
- Bumble will be inviting employees to join a virtual Vietnamese coffee-making class. Created in partnership with Phin Bar, an urban brew-bar that offers Vietnamese-style steeped coffee combined with house-made ingredients, Bumble hopes to facilitate a deeper cultural learning and community bonding experience for the team.
- Bumble will also be activating channels across social media and our product to educate our community about bystander intervention and raise awareness around the importance of supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement."
Engaging in daring conversations – Procore
"In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Procore recently organized an internal event to recognize and support the AAPI community. The event was hosted as part of our ongoing internal speaker series, 'Daring Conversations & Allyship,' to create space for an open dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. All employees were invited to tune in as employees from our AAPI communities shared their unique experiences, addressed anti-Asian hate, and discussed actionable ways to support our AAPI community."
Learn more about Procore here.
Taking action to foster change – SeatGeek
"This month the POC ERG will be meeting and hosting different activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This includes creating a safe space to discuss current events, and what actions our communities can take to foster change, sending out a newsletter which will highlight the Asian community in every aspect, and lastly, we will be hosting a guest speaker.
We hope with these planned activities and meetings, we can highlight, and uplift the Asian/Pacific American community, as well as bring awareness to the horrible ongoing attacks they are facing."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Uplifting and inspiring the community – Okta
"Okta's People of Color (POC@Okta) ERG is planning to commemorate AAPI Month with a series of fireside chats and iconographical facts posted internally in the #poc and #all diversity Slack channels! These chats will feature Dion Lim of ABC7 News and Comedian/Actor, Ronny Chieng. We will conclude the series with a partnership with Pride@Okta featuring supermodel, TED speaker, and transgender advocate Geena Rocero. The goal of this series is to educate, uplift, support, and inspire! The Okta leadership supports its AAPI employees, customers, and community."
Learn more about Okta here.
Empowering cultural diversity and leadership – Quip
"Salesforce will be celebrating through multiple virtual events, such as a leadership panel on the power of cultural diversity, a tea tasting, a tai chi class, a haka workshop, and more! Members of the Quip team have also compiled an extensive list of resources to support AAPI communities, including ways to donate, take action, and learn more."
Learn more about Quip here.
Focusing on lived experiences – Mindbody
"The Mindbody United ERG focuses on a different heritage or history each month, with May devoted to Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This ERG seeks to provide a platform to both celebrate and learn together. This will manifest in two ways: As a newsletter and a Zoom meeting. The newsletter will feature contributions directly from team members, while the meeting will feature Assembly member Evan Low as our speaker. It is our goal to focus on the lived experiences of the AAPI community, address discrimination, and how to chase after the part of the world we can make better."
Learn more about Mindbody here.
Promoting harmony and unity – T. Rowe Price
"T. Rowe Price is aware and appalled at the recent spike in hate crimes against the Asian community. In response, the firm will center Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month efforts around harmony and unity, in alignment with the Hawaiian value, Lōkahi – Forward as One. To share best practices, successes and areas of opportunities, T. Rowe Price will co-host a Leadership Panel on Asian Leadership Challenges with Baltimore Asian Connect, a consortium of Asian business resource group leaders at local corporations. The firm will also host a book club and restorative listening circles for Asian American associates and their allies."
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
Celebrating Asians globally
"May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Although traditionally a US celebration, at Autodesk we are celebrating Asians globally. The Autodesk Asian Network is hosting Innovative Leaders, including Lori Mukoyama and Jonathan Zee. Lori Mukoyama is redefining experience-driven design globally at Gensler. Jonathan Zee has an extensive portfolio of buildings that are helping to shape cities around the world at Goettsch Partners. Lori and her husband Jonathan combine design, architecture and engineering in their work while simultaneously manage a family together during this pandemic. This event is hosted by AAN, as part of a monthlong series of APA Heritage Month events."
Learn more about AutoDesk here.
HR pro Rockie Lehman has two hot takes on resumes: bullet points are a must, and one-page resumes aren't.
"I'm not a big fan of squeezing everything into one page," says the Talent Manager at aerospace giant Collins Aerospace. "Don't shortcut. List all of your relevant work experience. Most applicant tracking systems nowadays automatically reformat your resume, so you can't really tell that it's two pages."
And the bullets are easy: they're a quick way for Rockie to evaluate if candidates are qualified for the job.
We sat down with Rockie to hear more tips from her 20-year career in recruiting and human resources, especially around one key principle that has greatly enriched her own career: learning to grow beyond your comfort zone.
Finding her fit
Rockie originally thought she'd be an accountant. "But after a year of nothing but numbers and statistics, it was horrible," she says, laughing. "I went to my advisor and started discussing options where I could actually talk to people and my advisor suggested management and human resources. I loved it, and I've been in that field ever since."
She first joined what is now Collins Aerospace in 2000, when it was Rockwell Collins. After 9/11, the aviation industry slowed down, and Rockie was concerned about its volatility, but she stuck it out and ended up working at various regional sites for the next 19 years.
Being embedded in different offices meant that while Rockie was focused on recruiting, she got to really expand her knowledge as a full-service HR business partner. From serving as an advisor on succession plans to working towards building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, she's taken on a wide range of projects.
Now, Rockie's main focus is on technical recruiting for the company's avionics division, bringing in new talent to join the 15,000 engineers across Collins' 300 sites. "Engineers drive our company," she says. "They're the bread and butter of our company."
Why growth matters
Candidates, whether at Collins Aerospace or other companies, have a fine line to walk, says Rockie. Hiring managers are looking for people who are excited to come in and do the job they're hired for—but also for someone who wants to grow with the organization, in whatever way is best for them.
"Leadership is an important part of our succession plan," she says. "In order to progress within our organization, you need to display leadership, in people or projects. We need people to do a job, but we need to develop people who have aspirations to grow into leadership roles."
At Collins, high-potential early-career leaders are tapped for the EnTeR program, a two-year rotational program that gets them exposure to different parts of the business.
But no matter where you're working, Rockie suggests being purposeful about how you pursue that growth and how you develop your own sense of leadership.
"In order to progress in an organization, you have to stand out. You are the only one in charge of your career. No one's going to direct that for you," she says.
Her favorite tips to do that include:
- Network outside of your immediate group. "If you're a software engineer, you might want to mentor or network with someone in systems engineering for opportunities that could lead you into a project engineering position, a technical project management position, or even management of people," she says.
- Practice executive presence. You'll look more ready for extra responsibilities if you're thoughtful about how you show up in the world, says Rockie, who suggests remembering to talk clearly and concisely, to ask questions, and to look people in the eye (or in the camera, on Zoom!).
- Join relevant professional organizations. Rockie recruits from groups like the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers, and has seen how the conferences, trainings, and events that those groups put on keep people connected and top of mind for future job opportunities.
- Talk to higher ups. "They're just like you and me," she says. "They're probably more happy than your current leader to talk to you about their career, their successes, their failures. They're happy to mentor talent within the organization."
- Don't be afraid of failure. Rockie's a believer in "failing forward," a piece of advice she got from one of her own higher ups that's stuck with her. If you try something and it doesn't work, you can go back to your regular responsibilities more prepared for the next challenge.
- Know when to say no. Not all growth opportunities are created equal, says Rockie, and some projects just won't be right for you. For example, she was asked to do an extra three-month assignment and was excited to do it, but a family emergency happened at the beginning of the assignment. Rockie chose to keep the assignment, but with hindsight wishes she'd escalated out of it instead. "I really suffered from tremendous burnout and exhaustion," she says. "The biggest thing is to be mindful of how much you're willing to do, and the time that will need to be invested in the opportunity you're pursuing." If you find yourself in a similar position, try saying, "I'm not able to take this on right now, but would it be okay to revisit this in six months?"
Ultimately, Rockie has taken her own advice, explaining, "I started with Collins as a technical recruiter because of my passion for talent acquisition, but I also seek out opportunities and assignments that broaden my overall HR experience. So if and when the time comes for me to explore other options, I have the skills and knowledge in my tool belt for that next opportunity."
In this video, you'll hear super valuable insider tips from Manisha Bavabhai, Meli Comparini, and Catie Ross, recruiters at
MURAL—a digital workspace for visual collaboration that enables innovative teams to solve important problems.
Listen in for insight into the hiring process and actionable tips that will help you ace your interviews. Manisha, Meli, and Catie share what each interview step entails and the best ways to prepare, whether it's a product engineer interview, product designer interview, or sales interview.
Have you heard of the STAR Method? It's a great way to answer behavioral questions during your interview. And since MURAL's interview process is remote, don't miss these dos and don'ts for remote interviews!
Are you interested in joining MURAL? They have open roles! To learn more about them, click here.
As we celebrate Pride this month, we should also take time to reflect about the practices— or lack thereof— at our companies that help to support and empower members of the LGBTQIA+ community all year round. (LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. There are other variants of this acronym such as LGBT, LGBTQ, and LGBTQQIP2SAA, which all refer to the same community.)
From the Stonewall Uprising to the United States' Equality Act, we've come a long way, but the staggering statistics around the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace tell us that there is still work to be done.
As employers and leaders in our organizations, it is our duty to create an inclusive work environment where all employees feel safe and included.
To help you make your workplace more inclusive for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we've rounded up some key statistics and highlighted best practices — covering everything from inclusive language to benefits — in the infographic below.
Click this link for an interactive PDF version of the infographic:
Looking for more ways to promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion at work? Check out the links below to learn more.
See what other companies are doing to celebrate Pride month:
Infographic statistic sources:
- One-fifth (20%) of LGBTQIA+ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs
- Almost half (46%) of LGBTQIA+ workers in the United States are closeted in the workplace.
- 1 in 5 LGBTQIA+ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner
- One-third of LGBTQIA+ Americans reported that discrimination affected their ability to be hired
- 1 in 10 employees have heard their own supervisor make negative comments about LGBTQIA+ people
Clarus Commerce's Nupur Daruka on Finding Your Next Growth Opportunity
Nupur Daruka is someone who loves learning new things. That's true when it comes to remodeling her house—she's just finished her kitchen, having mastered tiling backsplashes, and is moving on to her basement, where she's focused on flooring—and to how she approaches her work.
As an Engineering Manager at loyalty and subscription software company Clarus Commerce, Nupur is responsible for helping other people lean into opportunities to learn new things, too.
From helping engineers find the right growth projects to coaching people who aren't sure where they'd like to end up, Nupur enjoys guiding others to create the paths that are right for them and their own goals.
We sat down with her to hear how her growth-focused approach landed her at Clarus and what advice she has for engineers wondering where to go next.
Identifying strengths: how Nupur's own journey taught her how to help others
Nupur got into software engineering because she enjoyed logical thinking and math. She stayed because technology, by nature of its constant evolution, provides plenty of opportunities for continual learning.
"That's what excites me," explains Nupur. "Whether it's a new technology or working on a problem in a new way, you're constantly working to understand the business side of things, figuring out how to implement solutions, and problem solving. That's what gets me out of bed every day."
But she knew that purely putting her head down and cranking out code wasn't where she wanted her career to go, so she pursued an opportunity to become a manager at her then-employer.
"I'm a people person," she says. "I like to engage with people, talk to them, get to know them. That's why I wanted to continue onto a leadership role—I knew I could help people. When I look at a leader, I think of a teacher, a mentor, a coach, and sometimes a friend as well. I don't see myself as a person who is on top."
As she grew into a great line manager, Nupur realized that she didn't want to stop there, either. "I have a natural knack for understanding business requirements and higher-level things and helping to implement them through development," she says. That led to her looking for opportunities to grow into more strategic leadership, which led to her becoming a director, first at SSI and then at Dynata.
Owning a comprehensive set of business and people goals was a big job, but Nupur embraced the challenge. "Some people get burned out, but for me it was fun, because I was learning, trying out new things, being creative, and figuring out ideas," she says. There was one extra-helpful guiding principle she learned to apply, and still applies today: "I never think of what I don't have that is crippling me. I always think of what I do have and how I can make the best use of the tools to solve the problem. That's always kept me going."
But sometimes growth peters out, and that's what Nupur realized several years into being a director. She knew the business inside and out and felt comfortable—too comfortable.
"That's when I knew I had to come out of my comfort position and make myself uncomfortable, to learn and challenge myself. Because that's when you stop growing, and I wanted to continue on my path to learn and grow," she says.
So she started looking for a new opportunity and found Clarus.
"I wanted to be around people who are open to ideas, communication, and feedback," she says. "And when I mentioned to recruiters that I knew that I was talking to Clarus, they all said, 'Oh, they're a great company, with great people.' And that made me feel comfortable."
An extra bonus? The high number of women employed at Clarus (they make up 59% of the company's employees!). "That really makes us stand out," adds Nupur.
4 principles for finding your path as an engineer
Now, as an Engineering Manager at Clarus, one of the biggest parts of Nupur's job is helping engineers to find their own paths to professional fulfillment. The company's open and communicative culture (and growth!) helps make that possible, as does Nupur's own experience. Above all, she recognizes that not everyone will have the same growth path that she does. Here's how she breaks it down:
- Understand yourself. "What excites you the most? What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you going?" asks Nupur. "Identifying that will get you a better idea of what the next move will look like." She gives examples:
- Do you like working with people, and are you a good listener? Maybe it's time to pursue a management path.
- Do you enjoy solving complicated problems above all? Consider taking on a role as a solutions architect.
- Do you want to stay involved in technical problems but also get reps mentoring others? Consider a project or team lead role.
- "And just being a software developer is also okay!" says Nupur. "If you love to code, if you really enjoy being a nerd at that, then just be that! There's nothing wrong with that."
- Find an opportunity to test out your understanding. If you've identified a path you'd like to pursue, it's a good idea to explore it while you're still in your current role. Nupur suggests talking to your manager to find the right kind of stretch opportunity, whether it's mentoring new hires, leading an internal project, or taking a more active role in hiring and performance reviews.
- Learn something everyday. Even as you're finding yourself successfully transitioning into newer, more demanding roles that line up with your interests, learning is a continuous process, so stay open-minded to it, says Nupur. She herself prioritizes learning by making time each day to listen to podcasts. Even if she's busy—as a single mom and self-proclaimed workaholic, she doesn't have a lot of extra time—she'll listen to one while she prepares dinner or cleans up. Her personal favorites include The Official AWS Podcast, The Clark Howard Podcast, and Motley Fool Money, among others. "A lot of them are about tech or personal finance, but they also talk about other things. For example, I've learned about how to build high-performing teams, which is something that I can apply on a daily basis," says Nupur. "Podcasts are key."
- Be open-minded to different cultures along the way. If you're going to grow in your career, says Nupur, you'll need to be able to work with lots of different people. That's true for a director and for a senior software developer. She credits her own experience managing offshore teams with teaching her this lesson: "Learning about different cultures brings a different perspective and understanding. It's important to have empathy for them because it builds trust and loyalty," she says.