So you want to be diverse, what could go wrong?

Jul 23, 2019

I recently attended Kubecon EU in Barcelona and it was there that I had an epiphany. As we were setting up our booth, in the booth next to us were half a dozen gentlemen. All of them wearing black t-shirts. I mentioned in passing to my colleagues that as a woman, I would feel intimidated walking up to that booth. My male colleagues had a look at their attire and quickly changed out of their black Giant Swarm T-shirts into one of the more colorful ones. That’s the way we roll.

Diversity and inclusion are issues that I care about deeply. I have personally lived through times in my life where these things have popped up in painfully obvious ways. Starting from school I could see the numbers of young women plummet in areas of STEM as I continued to pursue them. But beyond that, I am passionate about minorities having a voice that is heard, on a day-to-day basis.

Diversity has been on our agenda at Giant Swarm for a while now. We see ourselves as egalitarian in every sense of the word. We operate at the highest level of transparency and everybody has a voice in the company. Yet in the hiring presentations (find out more about our hiring process in our recent blog post)) I have attended during my 8-month tenure at Giant Swarm have been lacking on the diversity front. They were dominated by European males. On the other hand, I find the fact that I can raise my voice about this issue and work to change the situation very satisfying.

On the diversity front, we are actively seeking female candidates for multiple positions. From the most senior opening of VP Engineering to the more junior roles of Platform Engineers, Site Reliability Engineers, and Sales Engineers. Yet the members of our People team are still pulling their hair out trying to find diverse candidates. We are open to anyone who has the correct skillset. That being said, we would love to use these job openings as an opportunity to become more diverse.

The main reason I joined Giant Swarm is that I wanted to work flextime from home. This suited two of my personal values which are a concern for the environment and being with my family. After starting my job I found that my third value of a job well done is easily fulfilled here too. The bonus is that it is the best bunch of people I have ever worked with.

So, what does Giant Swarm offer diverse candidates? Let’s start with inclusion. While diving into the subject of diversity, I found that there is no diversity without inclusion. Basic to Giant Swarm’s culture is consensus. Everybody who has an opinion can state it and make a difference. Take this post for instance. It came out of an internal special interest group: SIG-Diversity. This SIG is open to anybody who wants to make an impact on this issue in the company. We have numerous SIGs that deal with multiple facets of the company. Employees are free to pick and choose where they want their voices to be heard.

We like to think that we are already diverse. We are, after all, a fully remote company with employees in 13 countries and from 19 nationalities. But in terms of textbook diversity, as of today, we have five women, two people of Asian descent and one of Middle-Eastern descent. This is out of 43 employees. So we’re not doing as well as we’d like.

In a sense, this is a plea for help. We need new ideas on how to attract diversity candidates.

So far what we have done is to advertise in Women in Tech networks as well as approaching specific, diverse, candidates directly on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, with no outcome. We have even gone so far as to get in touch with a headhunter to approach candidates for us but again nothing. We have been present and active in our ecosystem for the past 5 years. We continue to go to industry events, where we actively advertise our current job openings. But we feel like we are still not doing enough.

If you are a female/diversity candidate, we would like to welcome you onto the team. I have heard from a colleague that does technical interviews that he often gets asked how many women are on the team. The answer, as you saw is not good. But you can help us tip the scales. See our current job openings.

If you are a member of the cloud-native community and/or care about promoting women or other underrepresented communities in STEM. Please contact us with referrals to resources that will get us to this candidate pool or allow them to find us. Thus, helping us achieve the diversity goal we have set for ourselves.

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