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Build Equity in Engineering Onboarding

Ashley Swanson

Onboarding is more than just checkboxes and paperwork for your new developers. With so much of the focus placed on practical knowledge, managers can overlook the intangibles important to the onboarding process – such as equity, work culture, and inclusivity. 

A new hire forms their first impression of a company during engineer onboarding. If your onboarding process does not touch on these intangibles, it is left up to the employees to define workplace culture – leading to conflicting perspectives and stressful, tension-filled uncertainty. A culture that emphasizes respect and well-being will see less churn, more productivity, and higher satisfaction.

It can feel like a monumental task to address questions around equity and work structures. But just as you needed to update your documentation for the new hire, engineering onboarding is where questions around equity can be addressed. 

At Edify, we’ve built an onboarding tool specifically for developers that incorporates active learning methods, flexibility and process-building with equity in mind. 

Equity in Action through Onboarding

Onboarding is a framework to help explain the norms, expectations, and atmosphere of the engineering team. It is more than just coding languages and documentation tools – it’s how developer teams work together, respect each other, and communicate their perspectives. By placing equity in the forefront, engineering onboarding can be part of the mission to create a more inclusive work environment. 

The right words mean nothing without actions. Equity in the workplace means acknowledging the power structures that exist and apply pressure on individuals in different ways. Actively addressing and working to bridge those gaps means every individual can reach their version of success. 

So what does this look like in the real world? It is similar to the expression how you say something – the tone and demeanor – matters just as much as what you say. An onboarding process that demonstrates equity will be transparent, open to improvement, and honest about the current gaps that exist between the present and true equity. 

Here are a few topics to start exploring from an equity framework, to assess your current onboarding program for engineering. 

  • Are you defining the expectations, norms, and behaviors for the engineering team? How should a new hire expect to be treated at work, and what paths do they have available to them if they are treated otherwise? 
  • Explore paid time off policies and how they can impact employees in different circumstances. Programs like flexible work hours, mental wellness days and parental leave policies give more options than just a one-size fit all policy. It is another way to acknowledge challenges a new hire can face, while not putting the pressure on each individual to advocate for better equity. 
  • Similar conversations should happen around hiring, promoting and compensation. There are long-embedded power structures that prioritize gender, background, age and experiences over others due to biases. Acknowledging these biases in the workplace, examining the context and being able to critically challenge these perspectives also helps advocate for greater inclusivity.
  • Are you walking the walk, and setting an example of respectful inclusion? Highlight coworkers who are leaders in inclusive spaces and demonstrate equity in action. Showcase company workshops, committees or policies that focus on improving equity in the workplace.
  • Examine company structures and team dynamics, discuss context and history around past decision making. Was it inclusive? Did everyone feel represented fairly?
  • Ask about the onboarding process with current employees: what is meaningful, what is impactful, and what could be improved? 

If onboarding is an organized explanation, then discussing the practical realities of working should be included alongside technical skills. And if the realities of the workplace are holding back a new hire from success, engineer onboarding can be a safety net to help catch the structural imbalance before it gets worse. 

Building an Inclusive Onboarding Process

Just as the world of software engineering is ever-evolving, so should the onboarding process. 

At Edify, our engineering onboarding tool is designed to teach new hires both the practical skills and inclusive perspectives needed for success. Using the four pillars of knowledge, our methods provide a consistent, repeatable curriculum for all new hires. Our tool eddy adjusts to every new hire’s style of learning, so engineers can learn at their own pace, making for a more equitable process. 

Edify’s guiding framework helps you craft a knowledge base that is accessible, practical and equitable so your new engineers can feel confident on their paths towards success. 

Reach out to Edify for a demo today. 

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