Earlier this year, we hosted our first joint event with Techqueria where a panel of Latinx engineers shed a light on the importance of engineering mentorship—especially in tech. Joining us at Asana’s headquarters in San Francisco were Belén Cruz Zapata, Emerson Malca, Pamela Martinez, and Asana’s own Alvaro Morales—along with over 100 Latinx engineering professionals from across the tech industry.
The event was the first in our new partnership with Techqueria, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission, in their own words, is to provide “Latinx professionals with the resources and support they need to thrive and become leaders in the tech industry.” But, as the panelists discussed, becoming a leader requires support from your community and your peers—which is where mentorship comes in.
It’s not the first time we’ve discussed diversity & inclusion (D&I) at Asana. You might have read our yearly D&I statistics or heard of our Latinx Heritage Month events. At Asana, we celebrate taking the opportunity to chat about how tech companies can (and should!) focus more on making all employees feel welcome in the workplace.
Boosting diversity and inclusion in tech
There’s been plenty of discussion about the lack of diversity in tech, especially in Silicon Valley. A good way to boost D&I in any company is through the creation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Asana ERGs, like Asana Women, Gradient, and Team Rainbow, are ways for employees to connect with their coworkers and make space for our authentic selves.
“Companies that have ERG(s) [allow people] to have a deeper connection to people based on something—it could be race, it could be interest.”Emerson Malca, Engineering Manager at Apple
ERGs are also a great way to create a working environment that helps all employees feel welcome and included. In fact, companies that implement ERGs tend to see a huge push of support from their employees. At Asana, for instance, 65% of our employees belong to at least one of our three ERGs.
The ROI on D&I
In addition to creating a more inclusive environment, investments in D&I fuel business results. When employees feel supported and included at work, they’re more likely to show up and get involved. Companies who invite diversity at every level are more likely to be more innovative and avoid groupthink. But sometimes, companies can struggle to implement D&I initiatives by themselves.
“Being in tech, I’ve noticed that there’s not a lot of people with a background like me or like us in this space. And as you become more and more senior it becomes harder to find people who can relate to you.”Pamela Martinez, Co-Founder & CTO at Snowball Wealth
That’s where Techqueria comes in. The nonprofit, which was founded in 2015, has chapters in five cities and a thriving Slack community of nearly 5,000 members (with over 10,000 messages sent per week!). To continue supporting Latinx engineers in tech, they’re launching another five chapters in 2020: Miami, Orlando, Washington D.C., Portland, and Atlanta—to join their initial five chapters in New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Mexico City, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
“As a community, the only way we can grow at a very fast rate is if we all decide to give more than 100%. We all have to understand that we have to put in more time, we have to put in more resources to help people—in this case, being mentors.”Emerson Malca, Engineering Manager at Apple
The importance of mentorship for Latinx engineers in tech
In order to develop a thriving mentor-mentee relationship, you need support and encouragement from within a community. That’s why, earlier this year, we partnered with Techqueria for our first of many Latinx engineering mentorship panels. The panelists came from a variety of roles within the engineering tech sphere, and they each brought a wealth of mentor and mentee experience to the panel. Here’s what they had to say about mentorship:
On the definition of mentorship:
“[Mentorship] is a relationship to encourage your professional career… To me it’s important that both the mentor and the mentee share their experiences. It’s a two-way relationship. Both [people] can really learn from the exchange.” – Belén Cruz Zapata, Mobile Lead Engineer at Groupon
On setting up a mentorship relationship:
“The defining characteristic of a mentorship relationship is very much learning and sharing [your] experiences. I think we often see this as a mentor who is more advanced in their career and mentoring someone more junior in their role. But mentorship also takes a lot of different shapes. [For example] I’ve gotten a lot of value out of peer mentorships.” – Alvaro Morales, Engineering Manager at Asana
On finding a mentor:
“Something that can be really valuable is looking for someone who’s a few steps ahead of where you’re at. Thinking about ‘Where do I want to be?’ and ‘How do I want to grow?’ and then looking for people who can fit that role.” – Pamela Martinez, Co-Founder & CTO at Snowball Wealth
“I also think that they need to have some things in common… I’m not saying they need to work in the same technology or work for a similar type of company or team. What I mean is they need to have some history in common, some path in common, so that way the mentee can have someone that really understands them.” – Belén Cruz Zapata, Mobile Lead Engineer at Groupon
Our continued commitment to Latinx engineers in tech
The Engineering Mentorship panel in January was just the beginning. We’re excited for Techqueria to join our growing list of partnerships, alongside Grace Hopper Conference, TechInclusion, Latinas in Tech, Lesbians Who Tech, Latinx Summit, Women in Product, Code2040 Tech Trek, Tapia, and Out4Undergrad. Stay tuned for more Asana and Techqueria joint events this year.
At Asana, we’re always looking for more professionals from diverse backgrounds to join our team, participate in discussions about how to be your authentic self at work, and help move the needle on creating inclusive communities. If that sounds like you, join us! Check out our open positions or follow us on LinkedIn for more updates.