Sonjara was founded as a way to keep one woman – me – in the workforce, while also allowing my husband and I to raise our children the way we wanted to. As a result, we created a workplace with values focusing on supporting the whole person - embracing their gender, age, race, ethnicity, and outside responsibilities (such as parenting or school). Using what we call “radical flexibility”, we focus on productivity as our true measurement of performance.
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur when thinking about career goals. Dedicated to international development, I always saw myself as an employee – for non-profits or government providing ICT4 development services. But life intervened. My former company, while having wonderful policies, was unable to overrule the decisions of my direct boss when it came to work-life balance, especially related to having a newborn. Without really thinking it through, I quit and my boss panicked. Ultimately my boss hired me as a freelancer until he found a replacement and Sonjara was born.
A few years after I founded Sonjara, my husband Andy was able to join the company full-time and then we started hiring employees. We dedicated ourselves to providing policies and a culture that addressed many of the challenges faced today by women and men who are caregivers. While initially thinking these policies would help primarily women, who still are the primary caregivers of small children, we also found men were even more in need of work options with flexible hours and location and an understanding culture of parenting responsibilities. We then realized that everyone needed and benefited from what we now call “radical flexibility”.
Primarily virtual, Sonjara allows people high levels of control over their personal productivity, by managing where and when they work and giving them a lot of autonomy in how they get their work done. With modern cloud based systems, it is easier now than ever before to support flexibility while maintaining productivity, security and quality. While we see this approach as common sense, it also has the benefit of overcoming many traditional barriers faced by women – and others - in the workplace. At Sonjara, we also are passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs, female IT experts, and female leaders as well as making sure male and female entrepreneurs, IT experts and leaders are aware of unintended biases they may be unwittingly party to. We include gender in our user analyses, evaluation metrics, and design perspectives, and try to make sure data is disaggregated by gender. We try to keep up to date on the latest news on ICTs and gender, and how it intersects with race, class, age, and other factors so that we are not exacerbating existing inequalities by ignoring these differences.
We at Sonjara have decided to not stop our work on this day, but rather to double down on our work to improve the lives of women – our employees, our clients, and our beneficiaries around the world. We salute all those who promote gender equality around the world.
I wish you a Happy Women’s Day!