You don’t need to search very hard to find article after article condemning the lack of diversity in tech.
I know, because I’ve written about it, too. For six months, I ran a job board focused on connecting under-represented talent with tech companies that truly care about creating an inclusive workplace. In Modiv’s brief lifespan, I had the pleasure of working with some of the most inspiring startups and founders in the industry. They were clear and obvious choices for diverse talent to want to work at.
But I always wondered…
What would I do if I was approached by a company that wasn’t such an obvious choice? What if a startup that was trying to mend its ways wanted to post on Modiv? Then what?
Things Can Change
I never had a chance to find out what would happen in that hypothetical scenario.
My husband was laid-off from his job in March. I tried for a little while to make Modiv work. If I was single and straight out of college, I could have lived off of ramen and done it…
But I’m not.
I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a woman who is responsible for the well-being of her family, a family that comes before all else. And so Modiv fell to the side and eventually dissipated as I searched for a full-time job to support my little family.
Coming from my position of diversity advocacy, I had high standards for the place I wanted to work. I searched for and applied to about a dozen different companies with excellent histories of inclusivity and commitment to a diverse workplace… and none of them worked out.
This one was not the company I was hoping it was, that one never got back to me, another one just wasn’t a good fit for my skillset…
I decided to widen my job search a bit. Selectively… slowly…
Before long, I came across a position that was (to put it mildly) enticing. A good fit for my skillset, an established and growing company, competitive pay and amazing benefits, with a remote position that would let me be around as my baby grows up. The position was at GitHub.
Companies Can Change
I think I’ve read almost every article published about diversity in tech in the last two years. I had read about what happened at GitHub last year, and it made me nervous about even applying. But I also heard through the diversity-in-tech grapevine that GitHub had been working with Nicole Sanchez, one of the most respected diversity consultants in Silicon Valley. In fact, she’s since joined GitHub as the company’s VP of Social Impact.
In other words, it seemed like GitHub was trying to change.
It dawned on me as I was researching whether or not I should apply for the job at GitHub that the very hypothetical question I had never needed to answer with Modiv was now taking the front-and-center in my job search.
How can companies fix their diversity and inclusion if no one ever gives them the chance?
So I applied. And I interviewed via webchat. And when that went well, I showed up for my onsite interviews and didn’t shake hands because of my religious customs, and needed special meal accommodations because I keep kosher. And you know what? Not only was it not awkward, but it was welcomed and respected by everyone I met that day. Half of the people I interviewed with were women, all of whom mentioned over-and-over-again the company’s thoughtful and deliberate progress.
When I first applied, I was still nervous about whether or not GitHub would be a place I’d feel welcome. But by the time I accepted my offer, I realized that I’d been given an amazing chance to join a company that is not only making developers’ lives easier, but working hard to make tech and the world a better, more accepting, more inclusive place.
For companies to make a real change, someone has to give them a second chance.
Note: While I’m employed by GitHub, all views and opinions are my own. If you have questions or feedback, feel free to find me on Twitter.