Diversity + Inclusion at Split, Meet Joy Ebertz

We know that actions speak louder than words, so as part of our ongoing efforts to be actively anti-racist we’ve formed a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force. As we begin the work we should have begun long ago, we’d like to introduce you to the Splitters who will be leading that taskforce. You’ve already met Product Manager and co-chair Kevin Li, now we’d like you to get to know Software Engineer and co-chair Joy Ebertz.

Like basically every company out there right now (who doesn’t already have one), Split, is putting together a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force, which I will be co-chairing. I wish we weren’t doing this as a reaction to the recent, way too many, terrible murders, but the fact is that we are.  We have been talking about improving our DEI efforts since before I joined last year and kicked those talks up a notch when we recently welcomed our new CEO.  The fact of the matter is, however, that talk is just talk and I’m very sad that it took such heinous events to move us to action.

My DEI Journey

While the major push for diversity and anti-racism at Split has happened more recently, I have a much longer history with many of these issues. To start from the beginning, I’m the daughter of a Japanese American and a German/Irish/Scotch/English American, but I largely grew up in a very white community in the Midwest. In fact, my county was determined to be the whitest county in the United States according to the 1990 census (two years before we moved there). Despite this, or maybe because of this, diversity was always strongly stressed in my family. 

I have to admit though, it wasn’t until much more recently that any of this became a passion project for me – I knew to value diversity and seek it out for myself, but I didn’t push for it more broadly. I went to college and majored in mathematics and computer science (and was one of few women in the CS department) but our school was 45% women overall and I had friends across many departments, so it almost never felt that bad to me. Even entering the workforce, I was young and naive and optimistic and didn’t really understand why groups like the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) were important.

Almost 9 years ago now, I joined Box. When interviewing for my first few jobs (including for Box), I did look for diversity, but I don’t know that I saw a big need for things like Women in Tech groups (although I later understood the importance). Rather serendipitously though, when I joined Box, it was declared that we finally had enough women in engineering to form a Women in Tech group and I was dragged out to lunch with all of them during my first week for our first official event. I was there as we continued to self-organize and we all conspired to go to Grace Hopper. It was through this group and the articles posted to our email list that I started to learn about and fully understand many of the issues facing women in technology careers today. It was also through this group that I also started to learn why diversity is so important.

About a year in, we formalized our Women in Tech group with a steering committee, of which I was one of the first co-chairs. I would go on to hold several other positions with the group and later co-chair again. Because of a lot of my work with WIT, I went on to read and learn a lot more about what could be done. At some point I went pretty deep on recruiting. During my second term as co-chair, we hired a dedicated D&I staff member and as a result Kelsey (my amazing co-chair) and I worked closely with her and got to see many of the issues, challenges and thinking in the space.

Throughout those years and since, I’ve become more and more convinced that bringing true diversity, equity, and inclusion into tech is a very complex and challenging problem but I’ve also become equally convinced that it’s a worthwhile endeavor. While most of my background and knowledge is specifically in the women in tech space, I am by no means any less passionate about racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, or any of the many other ways people can bring a diverse perspective or how we make all of them feel included.

As I step into this role at Split as a co-chair of our new DEI task force, I know it is going to be a challenging road. At the same time, I am hopeful. More of my co-workers than I would have expected are both passionate and knowledgeable about DEI and we have support from the top. One of our three values is “Every Voice,” which speaks perfectly toward inclusion and its importance. We certainly have our work cut out for us, but I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish.

Read More from Joy

Are We Creating Unfair Expectations of Women in Technology?

Stronger Together — Thoughts on #IWD2017

We’re Still Not There: My Challenge to You for International Women’s Day

How Can We Not Have Imposter Syndrome If Everyone Is Telling Us That We Don’t Belong?

5 Strategies for Being an Ally to Women in Tech