Engineering equal opportunities at Snyk

Written by:
Francesca Scantlebury
Francesca Scantlebury

May 28, 2020

0 mins read

Although numbers have improved in recent years, the amount of women in tech is still concerningly low. As many sources have indicated that diversity in the workplace brings with it a number of attributes to companies including increased revenue and enhanced problem-solving skills through diversity of thought, it is important to address why there is a lack of women in tech, and what we can potentially do to solve the problem.

In the UK alone, women fill less than a quarter of core-STEM roles, and the barriers preventing more women from entering or remaining in the tech workforce can be numerous. A lack of role models, a gender pay gap, parenthood, and unconscious bias provide only a few examples of obstacles some women face throughout their careers in tech. Though the struggle to change the situation can sometimes seem an uphill battle, through this article, we take a look at some of the steps Snyk has taken to establish a positive working environment for women working here in R&D.

Flexible working 

At fast-growing start-ups, impractical working hours can often intrude into the personal lives of employees. For women especially, this can be a difficult situation to manage. Although there is a growing gender balance in caregiving, the majority of primary caregivers—informal or otherwise—are largely still women. Thus, the traditional inflexible office hours of 9-5 have prevented many from entering the workplace, or even being able to rejoin the workforce after major life events such as starting a family.

Therefore, from its foundation, Snyk has encouraged a flexible working policy wherever possible. Allowing snykers to find their work/life balance, prioritize family and personal matters, and to feel trusted to manage their own time, has led to honest and transparent working relationships between team members and managers. 

“It’s very helpful that you don’t need to prove anything, the company relies on your judgment.” - Yulia, team lead for Team Comet (user integrations)

“I find it very flexible, and all of my managers also have small kids, and I like that everyone’s using it [the flexibility], not just women.” - Security Product Manager

Career growth

Although there has been significant growth in the number of women working within tech in the last decade, only 5% of leadership roles within the industry are held by women. Career growth can take on many forms and not everyone necessarily considers the conventional career ladder as the way forward, but this statistic still speaks volumes.

At Snyk, encouraging career growth and development in whatever form, has become a hugely important part of our company ethos. Where possible, we look to promote from within; employees are actively encouraged to set both short and long term goals on a regular basis—a learning budget is provided in our benefits packages.

One Snyker who has experienced an enormous learning curve during her time at Snyk is Lili, who is currently our Team Lead for our Languages team—the team responsible for introducing support for new languages, build tools, and package managers to help Snyk users test and fix their projects. After joining as a software developer two years ago, she was promoted after six months to a Team Lead position, and now she is changing roles again to the exciting new position of Technical Solutions Architect. After two years, Lili decided, “I want to do something different to challenge myself. The team can use the knowledge I bring from building features and I’d like to learn more about how we work with customers.”

Recognizing the importance of providing opportunities for employees to challenge themselves in new ways, and utilize the whole range of their skills is a crucial part of Snyk’s attitude to ongoing success. Too often at companies, great employees are hired and then kept within the same remit for the entire duration of their time there. However, by helping employees grow and work towards personal career goals, Snyk looks to retain and cultivate a happier workforce.

“The things I have done over the past year and a half have been enormous. I can’t compare it to any other previous experiences. I joined as a software developer, and one year later I was promoted to being a team lead. I was and I am encouraged to bring my voice to the table. ” - Karni, Team Lead for Team Magma (Container Security)

A commitment to diversity in our culture

Proving a commitment to diversity within a company can be a particularly difficult challenge. It’s not just what you say you will do, or the ambitious goals you might set to achieve; it is making the conscious effort every day to maintain an open and transparent culture. From the get-go, Snyk has recognized that fostering a positive and inclusive environment takes time and effort, and it is something that should be embedded into the way a company is run, no matter whether we are at 50 or 500 people.

In R&D especially, this philosophy has always shaped how we build and deliver features. For example, each of our developers is encouraged to have their own impact, and own features end to end. No matter how big or small the project, every action is considered valuable, and everyone’s opinion is appreciated no matter their job title or background. For many of the women in our team this was a new experience, as this can often be a rare attribute of R&D teams.

“It’s important for companies to act on their good intentions every day and Snyk has done this by creating a transparent culture. They are really there to listen, and they want you to have your own impact on the product. I think it’s a rare quality. I love the people, feel like I can learn a lot, and that I have a lot to give. I’m seen as valuable.” - Karni, Team Lead for Team Magma (Container Security)

“I think that people from the outside would find it hard to believe that although we’re 300+ people now, we still act like we’re at 50 people. We have an open and accessible culture and the mentality still of a small start-up, and it’s been really fun to experience that.” - Security Product Manager

Implementing a flexible working policy, encouraging career growth for all employees, and demonstrating our commitment to diversity every day in our culture are just some of the ideas we have implemented to improve and integrate diversity within tech at Snyk. From reading about how we have introduced these methods to how we work in R&D, and the positive impact it has had on team members we have hopefully provided you with some inspiration for more diversity initiatives. We also look forward to hearing about what you have been doing in your team or organization to help change the situation and grow a happy, successful, diverse team. Let us know on our Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook!

Posted in:Snyk Team
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Snyk is a developer security platform. Integrating directly into development tools, workflows, and automation pipelines, Snyk makes it easy for teams to find, prioritize, and fix security vulnerabilities in code, dependencies, containers, and infrastructure as code. Supported by industry-leading application and security intelligence, Snyk puts security expertise in any developer’s toolkit.

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