Veronica Sirotic joined us as a Recruiting Intern before moving into her current role as Operations Coordinator. Veronica coordinates our recruiting efforts while implementing the company’s DEI initiatives, including leading our DEI council and organizing diversity training. In her spare time, she enjoys cultivating her succulents, watching compilations of Rupaul’s Drag Race, and downing too many cups of coffee.
What do you do for Sourcepoint?
I’m the Operations Coordinator, which encompasses a variety of things. I coordinate all of our recruitment activities, which involves moving candidates through the different stages of the hiring process, managing recruitment agency engagements, and other activities. I also lead our company DEI initiatives. DEI and recruiting work are closely related — my work on the recruitment side informs my DEI work and vice versa.
What has been your favorite DEI initiative so far?
We had a really informative session with a DEI specialist named Sara Lowery, who spoke to us about microaggressions in the workplace. What I found the most interesting was the framework she outlined of “intent’ versus “impact.”
When microaggressions occur, people can be well-meaning but the impact of their words or actions can be harmful and there needs to be accountability for that. Building this shared understanding makes it easier for colleagues to engage each other in respectful dialogue about harm, which is important in a working environment where you might think you need to stay quiet for the sake of professionalism.
Sara also highlighted that microaggressions can be subtle but do a lot to threaten the space marginalized people occupy in our industry, which historically has significant barriers to entry for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folx. It was really important for us as a company to learn how to mitigate that harm. On a personal level, it was a good chance to reflect on the microaggressions I’ve experienced as a queer woman in tech well as those I may have participated in.
You mentioned barriers to entry in the tech industry. How have you witnessed that in a recruiting role?
Right off the bat, I can cite a very personal experience. I myself was referred into this position and just having that reference provided me access to the many opportunities I’ve had at Sourcepoint. I did not have a background in tech or in recruitment, but by virtue of my reference, I was able to get my foot into the door. Those with marginalized identities often don’t have access to networks that have propelled others into such fantastic opportunities.
As someone who has been integrated with recruiting, I’ve noticed that the candidates associated with larger companies on their resume or with internal references are able to enter the recruitment process much easier. These patterns aren’t just due to individual biases, but are symptomatic of larger issues that make it easier for those in positions of privilege to navigate the world and thus the job market.
How do you think we can address those barriers to entry?
A good place to always start is listening to and elevating the voices of marginalized identities in your organization, and involving them in improving hiring processes. Ask who’s not in the room, and why?
I recently attended the Lesbians in Tech conference, where many inspiring queer folks spoke of the need to make the tech industry more inclusive. But making people from all backgrounds feel welcome requires more than partnering with diverse organizations or putting together regular programming, though that is important work. It takes truly reimagining our hiring thought processes and taking a critical look at our industry practices.
There’s a worry that DEI means hiring a diverse candidate who isn’t as “qualified.” When we evaluate candidates, we need to challenge the very idea of what “qualified” means. For people that belong to marginalized groups, their very existence in the tech world, a space that is predominantly white, male, and cis-gendered, is a feat in itself and has taken an inordinate amount of work that we often fail to address. We should acknowledge that qualifications go beyond credentials and can also be measured by resilience and strength when facing challenges.
What are some other challenges to approaching DEI work?
Oftentimes the work of DEI is actually placed on the very people with marginalized identities. A good example of this is my referral which came from my wonderful friend Lucy, a woman of color. We met through a community of recent graduates who came from diverse backgrounds looking for jobs during the onslaught of the pandemic. These kinds of communities arise precisely to support each other in the face of the typical barriers of entry, but they’re not sustainable on their own and need powerful allies. That’s why the push for inclusivity needs to be a priority for the leaders at the top.
Any reading recommendations for those trying to learn more about DEI and tech?
One of our board members, Seth Levine, co-authored this book called The New Builders with Elizabeth Macbride, in which they interview small business owners across the United States and made a case for redefining the typical “entrepreneur.” The book argues that the next generation of entrepreneurs is made up of women, people of color, immigrants, and people over 40 – and they are not getting the support they need. Our business culture is fixated on large tech companies, which are largely led by straight, white, male CEOs. The systems of support that allow entrepreneurs to be successful have not evolved with the changing demographics of new builders, which poses a danger to the future of entrepreneurship and the American economy. It’s a great read–I would highly recommend!
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