Please introduce yourself
I’m Lauren Abramsky, a Software Developer from Toronto, Canada, currently based in London. I’m passionate about making tech more inclusive, for users and creators alike.
After working in tech consulting at a Big 4 firm, I wanted to find a company that is making the world a safer place. Last year, I was lucky enough to find a home at Vault Platform, where we are fixing workplace misconduct by empowering employees to speak up.
What are you working on?
At Vault Platform, every day I get to build software that gives people a voice at work. We’ve built an app for employees to safely and securely report interpersonal workplace misconduct — including sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination. We also address the more ‘corporate’ challenges like ethical failings, even fraud and bribery. In order to allow businesses the ability to resolve the issues, a crucial part of our work has been creating a Resolution Hub for HR or ethics staff to manage these cases in an efficient and respectful way.
During the pandemic, it’s been made very clear that racial discrimination and online misconduct must be on companies’ agendas when protecting and supporting their employees. Though it’s a small piece of the puzzle, we recently released a feature for Covid-19 reporting, which creates a streamlined channel for employees and their HR staff to communicate any Coronavirus or furlough concerns they’re having during this time. We’re focused as a team on what we can do to help, right now and in the future.
How did you get into your current field?
An event that changed the course of my career was when I decided to report an encounter with sexual harassment at work. After the MeToo movement, I felt I had to come forward. Otherwise, this person would continue to behave this way with other people, and I had to try to change that.
After several intense months, I was left completely emotionally and mentally drained. I knew I had done the right thing by speaking up, but I learned how isolating, scary, and complex the reporting process can be.
Everyone deserves to feel safe at work. At Vault, I’m so grateful that I get to build tools that help empower people through the reporting process — inform them, offer channels of support, and make them feel less alone through a really challenging time.
What is your mission at Vault Platform?
Our mission at Vault Platform is to create a world in which every workplace is inclusive, diverse, productive, and safe. Issues like harassment and discrimination are rampant at work, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The MeToo movement has made it clear that this problem has persisted for decades and the existing tools, processes, and mechanisms supposed to solve this problem just haven’t worked. Vault helps companies take a crucial step forward by creating a safe space where employees can come forward, meaning you can actually start understanding what’s going on in your own office. And then you can be empowered to change it.
What challenges and successes have you experienced at Vault Platform?
Joining Vault marked a big shift in my life and career. Going from a huge global company to a 15 person seed-stage startup was a big adjustment for me, and it’s been empowering having such a voice in our product when working on a small team. Alongside learning how to work in a small company, I was settling further into my move from Canada to London. Moving to a new country has been a huge challenge and accomplishment for me. It’s been a goal of mine for years, and it feels incredible to be making it happen.
What are your goals?
Right now, I’m working on becoming a better software developer. To do this, I want to improve my technical knowledge and continue to educate myself on social justice issues, as developers have a responsibility to make sure we're building products that have a positive impact on the world.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes! I’ve found mentorship to be essential in helping me progress my career so far. Particularly since moving to a new city, I’ve sought out mentorship both within and external to my company. The more perspectives I can get on the different aspects of my career, the better. From there, I can take the advice that serves me and leave what doesn’t.
Do you mentor anyone?
I am definitely looking to mentor someone. If anyone’s reading this and is searching for a mentor, feel free to get in touch!
What could the tech industry do to better foster female talent?
You can’t be what you can’t see. We need representation and role models. Looking back at my days studying Computer Science in university, I was so aware that I didn’t fit the stereotype. I’ve had countless people tell me, “you don’t look like a software developer.”
Hire more women, especially women of colour. It’s not a pipeline problem — there’s incredible female tech talent out there. Make sure your organisation is having these tough conversations. We should be uncomfortable with the lack of diversity in tech, and we should challenge it.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
One of my favourite pieces of advice is from Reshma Saujani (author and founder of Girls Who Code), who said to “teach girls bravery, not perfection.” The pressure to be perfect can be debilitating. It’s so easy to fall into thoughts like “I’m not good enough.” I still struggle with this and imposter syndrome.
What really helps is reminding myself I’m not alone in feeling this way, and I’m working on having more self-compassion. I want young women to understand and appreciate their own value, without the fear of not being perfect. You belong in tech — in fact, you’re desperately needed to challenge the status quo and build a better future.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
The worst advice I’ve received was after sharing my story with someone, they said that my experience is “just something women have to experience at work.” Though it was so painful to hear this, it’s simply untrue. No one should have to experience mistreatment, especially not where they work. Everyone deserves to be respected in their workplace.
The best advice that’s had a powerful impact on my life is from Brené Brown, a research professor and best-selling author. Brené ties courage and vulnerability together, explaining that vulnerability is “having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” Her motto is to “choose courage over comfort.” Understanding there is no courage without vulnerability played an important role in my decision to come forward. I knew I couldn’t control the outcome, but I wanted to show up and try to do what was right.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
I read a lot on psychology and female empowerment. I highly recommend Brené Brown’s book, Dare to Lead, as well as her documentary The Call to Courage on Netflix, to learn about how to be a daring, vulnerable, and empathetic leader (or human being). I’m currently reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and it’s been powerful learning about how to break free from the expectations of others.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
Connect on Twitter with me @labramsky or follow @vaultplatform. Feel free to reach out! I’d love to chat about women in tech, moving abroad, safe workplaces, Brené Brown, or anything in between.