Open source and diversity in tech: Women@Sonatype

March 08, 2022 By Luke Mcbride

8 minute read time

There is proven value in hiring a diverse workforce; doing so benefits both company performance and your bottom line. An October 2021 Gartner survey highlights diversity as a top human resource concern in 2022. Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, part of Women’s history month, we’re talking to the Women@Sonatype group about what they’re focused on. They help maintain and encourage women’s success at Sonatype by collaborating on best practices around employment, technology, and open source.

The following Q&A stems from multiple conversations with and written contributions from the Women@Sonatype group.

Q: What is the Women@Sonatype group?

In short, Women@Sonatype is a group of people who are dedicated to supporting and empowering women, encouraging diverse hiring, and advocating for action when concerns arise. Sonatype employees believe that diversity is an important part of our company culture. After all, we're a remote-first, global company, and we “sit” next to people from all around the world every day in our meetings. As such, our company needs to have conversations about gender.

artice-women-at-kickAnyone who joins Sonatype is welcome to join the Women@Sonatype group. We welcome everyone across the company to contribute to the ongoing conversation. We have bi-weekly meetings, and we select a variety of topics based on what's timely and important. We have an internal #women-at-sonatype channel on Slack, where we share relevant issues, offer support, ask questions, and generally create connections to build one another up. We have also met in person to shake hands and get to know each other better.

As of 2021, we have established the following goals:

  1. Advocate – Promote diversity and inclusion through continued learning and encourage others to get involved by creating opportunities for participation.

  2. Connect – Build a network among Women@Sonatype and create a community to share ideas and resources that can advance our professional and personal growth.

  3. Recruit – Advocate for more Sonatype representation at diverse events and within female-led communities, and connect with our own networks, to encourage increased brand awareness amongst women

  4. Educate – Support mentoring, training, and development initiatives

Q: What issues and concerns is the group passionate about?

Our primary goal is ensuring underrepresented groups are heard, that they have a community to reach out to and that they get support. We take into account that everyone has multiple identities and understand that many of those identities can result in specific concerns, like being a woman and a caregiver or a woman of color. Here are some of the things this group has discussed:

Q: What are some ways that tech companies can attract, retain, and promote women?

  • Public demonstration – Explain your values around inclusivity; this can be as simple as listing out benefits (e.g., equitable parental leave) on your company website.

  • Networking – Support existing women employees so that they are willing to reach out to their own professional networks and refer candidates.

  • Metrics – Publish data on the company’s diversity and inclusivity.

  • Presence – Attend and get space at women-oriented tech conferences and recruiting events.

  • Employee Resource Groups – Enable more official recognition of underrepresented groups.

  • Visibility – Hire women into executive/senior roles.

We’re still very much on our own journey to enacting some of what’s mentioned above. But, we’re extremely proud of the progress we’ve made since establishing Women@Sonatype and the commitment from Sonatype to continuously evaluate what else we can, and should, do. For instance, we’ve gotten more involved at technology events specifically focused on underrepresented groups. Sonatype was a sponsor for the 2021 AnitaB Grace Hopper Celebration , where we were able to recruit in real-time. This is the largest gathering of women in technology in the world. We had a great team supporting the GHC2021 virtual booth, and we were excited to be a part of this opportunity to promote and grow Sonatype. We hope to be at many more events in the near future.

Q: How does Sonatype support women?

Internal community

We have a very active Women@Sonatype community - including a Slack channel that heightens awareness and sensitivity company-wide. Numerous people at Sonatype have said that the insights provided through this group are important to our culture and our diversity.

The Women@Sonatype group creates a safe space where we can voice concerns or problems and receive support. It’s also been a jumping-off point for other groups, including our Community, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity committee and LGBTQIA+ groups.

When the Women@Sonatype expressed concern that the parental leave policy was inadequate, Sonatype took it seriously. They listened, talked to others throughout the organization, did appropriate research, and responded by dramatically improving this policy. It is important to Sonatype that employees not have to choose between work and family during crucial life changes.

External/community contributions

Logo: Diana Initiative

Logo: Community Classroom

Q: How does Sonatype’s investment in the open source community come into play?

Sonatype has always been a strong supporter of the open source community, and we are eager to get more women involved in open source. We want open source to be a collaborative and safe space that benefits from the strengths of a diverse group of contributors. We actively encourage all of our employees to get involved, and we hope that our focus on open source encourages people to come work here!

If you’re looking to get started, you check out a recent conversation the group had about making your first GitHub Repository:

Q: Is there something you’d like to say to women new to the industry, or new to Sonatype?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! People at Sonatype are great about sharing their knowledge and understanding. If you're new to the company and you have a question or are getting up to speed on the code base, people are more than happy to help you.

Take the risk and ask for assistance in public channels. You may be able to get different or better feedback beyond just what you’d receive in a small team channel or 1:1. You might also connect with others with whom you don’t get much chance to interact, and they may have questions you can answer as well.

To help codify this, we have teams across the organization that add specific check-ins about “asking for help,” during the onboarding process. We don't want you to have to suss it out on your own, especially in a remote setting.

Our broader message is that you are not alone - especially not at Sonatype. Here you will find mentors, allies, and groups for professional and personal development. Whether you’re looking to cross a new bridge professionally, find a new role at the company, or elevate your existing position, there are people ready and willing to help.

Q: What about effectively onboarding and retaining women?

Our hope is that having spaces available specifically for under-represented groups helps create a safe and welcoming environment where people want to remain. Sonatype also has invested in human resources diversity training to help all groups feel welcome and integrated. And, we're actively moving toward cohort onboarding so that people come in the door as part of a community on day one.

We are actively working to improve employee experiences with organization-wide career paths, leadership development programs, and eLearning. Women@Sonatype is also hosting a Women's Month learning challenge - this is something our talent development team also did with Black History Month.

Q: What would you like to say to women in the industry more broadly?

We are here now, on the ground, building exciting things that make a difference in peoples’ lives every day, and we can’t wait for them to join us! We want them to know that we need them: we need their voices, their talents and strengths, and especially their diverse points of view. We need their stories of how they got here to add them to our own, to make all of us stronger, to help us build paths for more women of all ages to find us and help us change the world.

We also hope that everyone will help increase support for other marginalized people in the technology industry, including (but not limited to) our trans colleagues, other LGBTQIA+ colleagues, people of color, and those with disabilities. We hope they and everyone will join us in supporting those who experience the aloneness that we’ve all at least occasionally felt. Solidarity is vitally important.

On a professional front, don’t settle for less than you are worth. Even if you are new to the tech space or the workforce in general, make sure you are looking for companies whose hiring philosophy includes making space for high-potential entry-level candidates. This means they’re used to taking a chance on someone who has relevant, transferable skills - even if not in that role - and are willing to learn.



Other articles on Women in Tech and our company spotlight on Sue Jasmin .

We are hiring! https://www.sonatype.com/careers

Tags: Women in Tech, News and Views, Industry commentary, Sonatype culture/awards

Written by Luke Mcbride

Luke is a writer at Sonatype covering everything from open source licenses and liability to DevSecOps trends to container security.