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Mar 17, 2022
In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Privitar is shining the spotlight on some of our amazing women PriviStars. This month, we are featuring interviews with team members across the company, demonstrating the talent, passion, and commitment they bring to their day jobs at Privitar and advancing women in the broader technology landscape. Read on to learn more about Rebekah Thompson, Head of People and Programs at Privitar.
My role is split in two, giving me lots of variety, which I love! I head up the people function for our engineering team and also lead on our people programs across the business.
On the engineering side, I spend a lot of time with the brilliant managers and leaders in the team, partly as an advisor and sounding board and also working with them on initiatives that enable the organization to be more effective, such as workforce planning, L&D, and employee engagement.
The other half of my time is spent partnering with the rest of the people team on programs that span across the organization. Recently this has involved leading a project to refresh our company values, kicking off a career path pilot, and supporting our wellbeing program.
I mostly fell into it—but now that I’m in, I’m here for good. I came back from living abroad in New York for a year and started temping at a tech startup while looking for work. I absolutely loved the excitement of being in an early-stage company that was defining a new category in the market, so I became permanent and have stayed in the tech industry since. It was that same excitement that brought me to Privitar. I was sold on joining after watching a video about our mission and the value of the work that we’re doing here.
Probably the breadth of it. Being in a people role at a company that’s at this stage is particularly exciting because of the amount of creativity that it involves. We’re building things like career paths and performance management frameworks for the first time, so we have a blank canvas. One of the nicest things about working at Privitar is how keen the broader company is to have input into our initiatives, which helps ensure that the work coming out of our team is aligned with what benefits employees across the business.
My biggest passion is employee wellbeing, specifically as it relates to mental health. We spend so much of our life at work, and I believe organizations have a responsibility to build an environment that promotes wellbeing and supports people through the tougher times in their lives. We’re doing a lot of work on this at the moment, including mental health workshops, training for managers, and the introduction of an employee assistance program (EAP).
One of the most important things companies can do is encourage people to talk more openly about their mental health and help people access the support they deserve. We recently ran a wellbeing panel in which I and two of my colleagues in the product team spoke about our mental health. It was so inspiring to see the engagement from people around the company. This is a topic that matters to people at Privitar. I’m continually impressed with the support that line managers across the business offer and how much the executive team genuinely cares about the work that we do in this space.
In my view, you need inclusion to be able to improve diversity in the industry. If a company doesn’t have an inclusive and equitable environment, they’re going to struggle to retain diverse talent. We all need to think critically about questions like: are we focusing on values fit over cultural fit? is our progression framework based on meritocracy? are we minimizing bias in recruitment practices? do we listen to those with the most relevant knowledge? do we take concrete actions to make changes in this space? Once companies are comfortable with where they’re heading from an inclusion perspective, diversifying their team naturally becomes easier. The result is the benefits that diversity brings.
Specifically from a diversity perspective, there’s so much that can be done. Ultimately, the lack of representation in tech stems from fewer women and minorities studying STEM subjects. The more that we can do to get people interested in tech from an early stage, the better. This can be anything from mentorship programs for those still in education/early in their career to talks/sessions that give insight into what working in tech is like. For women and minorities who are already working in tech, it’s mostly about taking actions that level the playing field and giving them the same opportunities that others have.
Lots! From a benefits perspective, we have flexible working, a generous holiday allowance, enhanced family leave, weekly company lunches, generous sick leave, an EAP, and a comprehensive health insurance offering.
Our recruitment team runs our job descriptions through AI software which ensures the language we use appeals to all genders equally. During the coming year, we intend to support in-person events designed to promote women in tech. We also build inclusion through our employee engagement programs, such as our work around wellbeing, Slack communities, inclusive socials, and our regular employee voice survey that empowers everyone to speak up. All of that said, DE&I is never something that’s “done.” There’s always more that we can do. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to expand our wellbeing program, run some sessions on neurodiversity, and build a leveling framework to minimize bias in career progression.
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