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8. March 2023
Women in Tech: Making Space at the Tech Table with Joy
“Women, and especially women of color, don’t have the luxury of waiting for space to be made for us at the table. We are still the minority in tech, even more so if you consider those whose identities live at the intersection of multiple marginalized groups.”
Joy Kordts, Senior Content Designer in our Payroll domain, is a woman, mother, person of color, and neurodivergent individual who is, herself, living at that intersection – and keenly aware of the challenges that women face around the world.
“Movements are named to honor those who are, by the design of the system they live in, put at a disadvantage. This applies to feminism in general and the women’s movement specifically. Because, as a whole, we women are still underrepresented, our struggles unacknowledged, and our plights under-supported.” And while the tech world tends to be a place with more progressive policies geared towards equality, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
But when Joy started her career, it wasn’t in tech. “A lifetime ago, I was a line cook specialising in vegan and vegetarian cooking in Los Angeles, my hometown.” Growing up, she saw the toll that prioritizing work and money could have on a person and their family.
So, when she entered the workforce at 20, she promised herself that she’d prioritize work-life balance above all else. “Unfortunately, this wasn’t really possible with the way that cooks work – especially as my partner wasn’t also leading the nocturnal, socially inverted life that so many people in gastronomy do.”
Instead, Joy made a hard pivot towards translation, something she did often while growing up as a second-generation Korean immigrant. She specialised in audio-visual translations and consecutive interpretation between Korean and English, and later, German.
That translation work led to Joy becoming a copyeditor at a tech company in Düsseldorf. “In that role, I started learning about UX – more through intellectual osmosis than anything else. But the more I learned about it, the more fascinated I became. It wasn’t long before I started bugging the right people about various pain points I was observing from the perspective of an editor, writer, and language specialist.”
Over time, this interest kick-started conversations about becoming the company’s first UX writer. “And the rest, as they say… is a long story about toiling away to advocate for UX writing, learning on the go, and helping grow UX writing into a small sub-team within the user research domain.”
And then, 5 years later, a Personio recruiter reached out to her on LinkedIn. “I was intrigued by Personio’s mission, and personally excited about the challenge that designing for the Payroll domain would be. But what really convinced me in the end were the people I spoke to throughout the interview process. The whole experience spoke volumes about the work culture I could expect.”
The culture and environment was of utmost importance to Joy, who had just had her daughter a few months prior. “It didn’t take any time at all for my delusions about how manageable it is to be a working parent to melt away!” This new priority put her job search in a new light. “I knew that my next company needed to be as good for my family as it was for my career.”
Thankfully, Personio has worked out beautifully. “This company continues to deliver on the promise of not only being filled with incredibly empathetic, brilliant people, and having an exciting, forward-thinking product, but also being an impressively family-friendly workplace.”
As a Senior Content Designer in the Payroll domain, Joy works closely with Product and Services Designers, UX Researchers, Engineers, and Product Managers to create an inclusive, accessible, and seamless payroll experience for our customers.
“Designing the payroll experience comes with a variety of challenges because payroll can be an emotionally fraught space. There’s so much that can get messy when people’s salary – and communication thereof – are involved. But as a designer who anchors her work in empathy and accessibility, it’s an exciting challenge as well.”
That empathy – and focus on accessibility – plays out at Personio for our people as much as our customers. “I can’t speak for everyone, but my own experience in Product & Technology has been such that I very confidently invite women I know to Personio.”
“We are a pretty diverse bunch. No, we’re not every color of the rainbow, every pronoun, every shade, every kind of ability. But we’re trying. And perhaps because we have such strong aspirations towards inclusion in every form, I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t ready to listen to my story; sincerely consider obstacles unique to me as a women, mother, person of color, and neurodivergent individual; and work with me to find a solution.”
All of that said, we know that in the tech industry – including at Personio – there is always more room to improve. “We need to continue proactively bringing awareness to the still-inequitable reality that women face in tech, and making moves to be role models, mentors, advocates, and co-conspirators. Because if we, who most intimately know of the challenges women face in our world, don’t— who will?”
With this focus in mind, we have implemented multiple initiatives to attract, hire, and support women in tech. For example, our Diversity committee and Talent Acquisition teams have introduced new hiring practices and internal education to reduce unconscious bias throughout our hiring process.
In addition, our Women at Personio resource group and People Operations & Development teamed up to launch the LIFT mentorship program. This program invites Personios across all locations and departments to apply as mentors and mentees, with dedicated spaces and resources for Personios identifying as women. Currently, 85% of mentees and 75% of mentors in LIFT are women.
But it’s not just the big, company-wide initiatives that make an impact. For Joy, it’s also the small, everyday actions of our teams, leaders, and individual Personios. “Not once have I felt like my sick child’s impromptu and fidgety presence at a meeting was unwelcome. Not once did someone challenge my working hours, which are set to allow me to care for my family without splitting myself in two. And most importantly, I’ve not once felt like I couldn’t speak up if I felt something was off, or that nobody would have my back.”
At the end of the day, we’re working to provide a company and culture where women can thrive and succeed.
“You are welcome here, as your whole self. No need to check the other dimensions of you at the door: your caregiver self, your feminine self, your quiet self, your struggling self.
Come as you are.”
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