If you’re looking to work for a mission-driven company, look no further than this team of engineers, designers and product builders who are helping to improve the overall experience of interacting with government online for hundreds of millions of Americans. This small but growing Washington, D.C. based tech company has made hiring a diverse workforce a priority. Almost 50% of the employees are women. In a show of their collaborative culture, we spoke with four employees, Caitlin Cooke, from hiring, Viviane Brett from operations, and Shelly Ni and Alisha Ramos from design about why Nava is a great place for women to work.
Tell us more about Nava.
Viviane: Nava builds software that help the American people gain access to services and improve their overall experience interacting with government. We are a team of 25 and still growing!
Shelly: We’re a bi-coastal team dedicated to providing the 330 million people who live in America with thoughtful, accessible, and efficient public services.
Caitlin: We got our start with the rescue efforts on healthcare.gov, and are currently working to re-imagine the services our government provides. 46% of our total employees identify as women, and on the technical and product side 40% identify as women.
How would you describe your company’s culture?
Caitlin: Empathetic, transparent, thoughtful -- voices are heard and respected. I love that we work collaboratively to get things done, and take care to ensure we’re bringing on people who exhibit these values.
Viviane: Energetic, passionate and deeply caring. Our team is so motivated to improve the lives of the American people and improving the relationship between the public and our government. We care deeply about each other and will bend over backwards to support each other both professionally and personally.
Shelly: Thoughtful, accessible, generous. Thoughtfulness comes through most clearly through our Google docs we have, regularly commented on and tended to, outlining team practices and company policies. From paid family leave to engineering best practices, they’re visible to anyone, commentable by anyone, and iterated on regularly by working groups any team member can join. Speaking of paid family leave, the team decided to offer a generous amount of time and a pre-made meal delivery service for new parents and guardians. That’s an example of the detail and empathy that my teammates put into turning supportive feels into meaningful policy.
Alisha: Nava’s culture is incredibly empathetic, mission-driven, thoughtful, and tenacious. One of the top reasons I joined Nava was because everyone I spoke with on the team truly believe in the mission of creating software and government services that work better for *all* Americans. I think it’s rare and not common to find a workplace where everyone is so invested in the mission. Nava’s mission-driven values also extend to our approach to diversity and creating a company where everyone feels welcome. I appreciate our honest approach to diversity and how much work is involved in creating a diverse workplace and workforce. It’s something we are constantly talking about and working on.
You have great InHerSight scores for paid time off (5.0), flexible work hours (5.0) and ability to telecommute (5.0). What are your policies and programs around these areas that are very important to the women searching for jobs on our site?
Caitlin: Flexibility in our work is an important part of our culture. While we spend most of our weeks in the office, we also work together in a number of different ways to support work/life balance. For example we have flexible work hours and we support working from home once a week, as well as working remotely for a few weeks each year. We also encourage folks to visit and work from other offices if they want a change of pace!
Viviane: Our flexibility is a big contributor to attracting and accommodating people from a various range of backgrounds. In my opinion, our flexible work policies, parental leave policies and remote work practices are a great advantage to anyone looking to have a family or who have family commitments. We are a culture that recognizes the enormous life change and flexibility needed around starting a family and we apply this to all our employees, not just women.
Alisha: A healthy work-life balance is so important for me, and it was one of the biggest factors I considered in my job search before I landed at Nava. Our team really trusts one another, and that trust extends to letting folks work from home when they feel like they might be more productive at home one day, or baking in the flexibility to travel to all parts of the world and working remotely. We recently had teammates working from places like Ohio and Guadalupe! Having a healthy remote work policy is fantastic especially for teammates who are thinking about having a family, are caretakers for their parents or other loved ones, or for teammates who just want to get “life things” done. In our ever-connected world, it just makes sense to bake this flexibility in to keep everyone feeling balanced and healthy.
You have a perfect score for equal opportunities for men and women. Are there specific things you are doing to ensure equal opportunities or is it part of your culture? Have you set out specific policies to make this happen?
Shelly: Caitlin leads trainings about unconscious bias, and we regularly revisit our interview practices and rubrics to make sure that we’re assessing a candidate’s capacity as objectively as we can. We have a very new speaker series where we’re shooting to bring as many speakers that identify as women as men.
Caitlin: We work to be as fair and consistent as possible when we do anything at Nava. It’s been a pillar of our culture since the beginning.
Alisha: I think a large part of it is our active focus on diversity in hiring and diversity within the workplace. We are constantly working on this, and it is a topic of discussion within the whole team. We all care about this and want to do more.
Can you share some of your learning opportunities? Do you have any that are specifically for women?
Caitlin: We can spend up to $2000 each year on professional development opportunities -- it’s pretty broad, this could be books, conferences, individual coaching, anything that contributes to our development!
Shelly: what Caitlin said!
Alisha: This reminds me, I need to order some books!
What would you tell prospective female employees about why your company is a great place to work?
Photo provided by Nava
Shelly: I’m encouraged and actively supported (with feedback, network connections, etc) to take on projects that are new and challenging. Not only do I have opportunities to grow the way I want to as a designer (lead projects, steer strategy, work on the safety net), I have tangible support from my teammates.
Caitlin: I love that everyone has respect for everyone else. Nobody is spoken over, we take care to be respectful and encouraging to one another.
Viviane: Nava is just a great place to work for anyone. Our supporting, empathetic and energetic culture is infectious and we treat each other more like family than coworkers. All employees are on equal footing and we take great care to be respectful of each other.
Alisha: Like everyone has said, Nava has very strong values of empathy and respect. I also think that Nava’s leadership team exemplifies a lot of thoughtfulness and humility, which is important in creating a safe and healthy working environment for not just women but for everyone. Everything from the way we document our values and communicate them internally and externally is done very thoughtfully. Regarding humility: our leadership team really listens to feedback and I’ve never felt uncomfortable approaching them. It’s never enough to have employees or a side committee who is dedicated to diversity - I think the greatest change occurs when you have the support of leadership.
Tell us something else fun or interesting about your company.
Alisha: We have some traditions at Nava that help the team get to know each other and have fun together. Once a week, each office gets together for a team lunch or team dinner. We’re also very creative when it comes to team outings: in the past, we’ve done a trip to Medieval Times (there were creative costumes involved), and just recently we all took ballroom dancing lessons before our holiday party (creative costumes were also involved - think Venetian masks and black-tie garb).
Shelly: We each have a Navamon -- a Pokemon that is usually a punny riff off of our names, that the design team Photoshops to create a strange / wonderful / delightful Navarino-Pokemon hybrid. Oh yeah. We have a long list of names to call Nava team members: Navanaut, Navarino, Navacado, Navallama, Navan, etc. We use them interchangeably.
Viviane: We have a Nava family tree - it's a pot plant surrounded by photos of our team including baby photos, awkward school portraits and holiday snaps.
How excited were you to find InHerSight?
Caitlin: Pretty excited -- I’m glad there is a place where women can feel comfortable leaving anonymous feedback where they work!
Viviane: What a great resource to find employment opportunities in fair and equitable workplaces! I also see this as a great learning tool to identify other organizations with supportive and inclusive environments to learn from their best practices.
Alisha: It’s such a valuable source for women! All companies should be measured along these metrics. Women are the future and we need to create workplaces and a work culture that works for them.
Get more of the inside scoop from the women working at Nava on the Nava InHerSight page.
We’re always on the lookout for companies getting great feedback from their employees. In this feature, we'll profile some of these companies in greater detail. Know a company we should profile? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.