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Opening the Door to Our Communities: Okta for Good’s First Global Tech Week

Erin Baudo Felter
Executive Director of Okta for Good

Community has always been a critical part of Okta: connecting people is at the heart of not only our product, but also our company culture. Last year we formalized our commitment to connecting with our community by taking the 1% Pledge, allocating our time, product, and equity to give back. A few weeks ago, we made good on that pledge by hosting our first company-wide volunteer event. Our focus? Breaking down some of the perceived barriers between members of our communities and the tech sector by – quite literally – opening our doors.

Our inaugural Community Tech Week brought together nearly 200 members of our global team to host a week of career workshops with some of the best tech education and workforce development nonprofits in our communities around the world. In just five days, Tech Week reached more than 2,000 students and jobseekers through in person workshops and career advice read by high school students on CareerVillage.org. For the many participants who had never set foot in a tech company or met one-on-one with a technology professional prior to the event, they got a glimpse into what life is like working at a fast-growing tech company.

Our San Jose, Bellevue and San Francisco teams partnered with GenesysWorks, YearUp, and JVS to host students and adult jobseekers interested in exploring roles in tech. Participants had a chance to hear Okta’s founding story from our co-founders Todd and Frederic and also heard advice from CMO Ryan Carlson, Senior IT Support Engineer Brian Wong, VP of People Kristina Johnson, and a number of our volunteers who worked directly with attendees to showcase the diverse pathways into the tech sector.

GenesysWorks shared more on their students’ experience at Okta, explaining: “For young people of color who too often perceive that careers at companies like Okta are out of reach, the event was especially impactful.”

We also hosted a Women in Tech event in San Francisco in partnership with [email protected], our platform to educate, support and ultimately improve gender diversity at Okta. The event brought together 20 women from the city of San Francisco’s TechSF program (run by BAVC), for an afternoon of career discussions, networking and resume reviews – check out the highlights here. Claire Hunsaker, our Senior Director of Developer and Commercial Marketing, participated in the event and shared her motivation: “It’s important for us to demonstrate paths into tech and paths to senior leadership positions in tech if we want to get more women into these roles.”

  

Internationally, our London team hosted students from University Academy of Engineering South Bank, exposing them to the wide array of careers in a company like Okta. In Sydney, the team worked with the Beacon Foundation, a national organization in Australia focused on empowering youth and connecting them to career opportunities. 50% of the students who participated in the Sydney workshop had never spent one-on-one time with a professional in the tech sector prior to Tech Week. Following the event, more than 70% of the students said the visit greatly affected their expectations for themselves related to education and future careers.

Finally, our Toronto and remote employees led the charge on our online career mentoring blitz with CareerVillage.org, sharing a range of career advice that reached 1,902 students, and counting. (Pro tip for other companies looking to engage distributed workforces in volunteering: CareerVillage is a fun, easy-to-use platform that delivers real impact.)

As our first focused Okta for Good community effort, Tech Week programming drove participant knowledge, confidence and expectations for the future, with 74% of attendees reporting a positive impact on their understanding of career opportunities in tech and 70% reporting a positive impact on their confidence interacting with professionals. I personally loved seeing the relationships built during the sessions; it’s a marker of our incredible team, and proof that we’ll be able to expand on the experience of participants like this one in the weeks and months to come:

"Had a fantastic experience at Okta. Thank you for making this possible. It seems, you did a good job at not only hiring professionals, but hiring good people.” - JVS Tech Week Participant

The real win, though, is that we’re opening up new pipelines to diverse, local talent – and helping to make those connections for our own workforce. After the event, 46% of our volunteers said their experience had an impact on how they would approach hiring and access new sources of qualified candidates, and nearly a third of our employee volunteers have since connected to the participants they coached via LinkedIn. These small changes in individuals’ perceptions and in our professional networks are the real value of one-time events like these.

We know it’s just a small start. It’s going to take all of us working together, consistently, to continue to build pathways into tech for everyone. Events like Tech Week are a great way for companies like ours to give back – but they are only effective if they are followed by deeper, more lasting partnerships that lead to internships and job placements. We’re committed to continuing to work with our community partners to find these opportunities to go deeper. And, we’ll continue to leverage our people, product, and financial resources to meet those opportunities. Keep an eye on the blog for more details soon!

 
Erin Baudo Felter
Executive Director of Okta for Good

Erin Baudo Felter is the founding Executive Director of Okta for Good, Okta’s corporate social impact initiative. She is charged with leveraging Okta’s most important assets – our people, product and company resources – to accelerate the impact of mission-driven organizations around the world. Erin has worked at the intersection of business and social impact for over a decade and has held various corporate social impact roles at Zynga, Yahoo and Warner Bros.

Erin holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a BA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is personally passionate about justice and equity in education and serves on the advisory board for Citizen Schools California. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and two young children.