4 Questions with Sonja Gitten
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m an island girl, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, but have lived in the US for the last 11 years, the first 9 of which were in Key Biscayne, Florida. Needless to say, cold weather is not my friend, but find me a beach anytime! I’m also a reformed corporate lawyer, but turned to a better life, where I’m most passionate about resolving inequality. In the tech sector, that’s manifested in being part of the first standalone Business & Human Rights Program at Yahoo to ensure that we think about how we protect our users, to transitioning to building teams that reflect the communities that use our products. Most importantly, I’m also a wife (to a wonderful guy, Gavin) and mom to our three year old son Elih, who keeps us very busy.
What’s your current role and what do you work on? I lead Diversity & Inclusion at Asana, where we’re building a work tracking tool where everything from the most immediate details to the big picture are organized, and each person knows what they should be doing and why. I’m responsible for crafting our strategies for recruiting employees from groups that are underrepresented at the company and creating an inclusive environment that allows everyone to thrive.
What was your first job?
While in college, I had a job as the [friendly] neighborhood receptionist at the local dry cleaning store. I got to do what I’ve always loved to do: talk to people. Handling the stinky clothes wasn’t my favorite part.
Dirty laundry aside, my experience there exposed me to how people treat others when they make assumptions about who they are based on their jobs. It gave me perspective and empathy: you usually don’t know someone else’s story, and somebody’s job does not define them.
What advice would you give to your 19 year old self?
You do not know everything. That said, take the energy and enthusiasm that comes from thinking you know everything to go learn more. Identify people who are where you want to be, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them. People do want to help, especially if you have a clear ask.