Coraline Ada Ehmke – Antisocial Coding: My Year At GitHub

A powerful recount of Coraline Ada Ehmke’s terrible treatment at GitHub. Please take some time to read it.

I think back on the lack of options I was given in response to my mental health situation and I see a complete lack of empathy. I reflect on the weekly one-on-ones that I had with my manager prior to my review and the positive feedback I was getting, in contrast to the surprise annual review. I consider the journal entries that I made and all the effort I put in on following the PIP and demonstrating my commitment to improving, only to be judged negatively for the most petty reasons. I think about how I opened up to my manager about my trauma and was accused of trying to manipulate her feelings. I remember coming back from burying my grandmother and being told that I was fired.

GitHub has made some very public commitments to turning its culture around, but I feel now that these statements are just PR. I am increasingly of the opinion that in hiring me and other prominent activists, they were attempting to use our names and reputations to convince the world that they took diversity, inclusivity, and social justice issues seriously. And I feel naive for having fallen for it.

This isn’t the first time GitHub have run afoul of having a toxic internal culture. Perhaps ironically, it appears from my view that it was the “corporate” controls implemented after the previous fallout, combined with cultural issues and inexperience of how those controls are meant to be applied that led to the horrible experience.

I’ve done Staff Management in companies hundreds of times the size of GitHub; I recognise every tool and process mentioned in Coraline’s recount, and have been part of them numerous times. Each instance in this retelling seems to be a perversion of what is meant to be applied. Tools designed to help and protect everyone in involved in the process were turned against the party with the least power.