How Cockroach Labs gives back: Matching bonuses, in lieu of swag

Last edited on April 21, 2021

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    Cockroach Labs was recently named on both Crain’s and Built in NYC’s “Best Places to Work” lists. In the published blurbs, they talk about the way our team treats employees: from the really important perks like great healthcare to the smaller ones like office snacks and Citibike memberships.

    I think what these lists are missing, however, is a greater sense of how Cockroach Labs views its relationship to the humans we interact with: our employees, our customers, and the world at large. One of the many ways this is manifested is in our company’s corporate giving initiatives. Here are some of the charitable giving practices we’ve instituted, and how they contribute to making Cockroach Labs a great place to work.

    Matching Employee Referral Bonuses to Charity of ChoiceCopy Icon

    This past year, we launched an unusual kind of referral bonus. For all roles, employees who refer a new hire receive a $2,500 bonus, and an additional $2,500 to donate to a charity of their choice. The program is the brainchild of Senior Manager of Recruiting, Dave Delaney, who knew there was a way to spend hiring budget while still making a difference. As Dave puts it, “We’re very fortunate to be in the industry we’re in, for employee benefits, compensation, and general quality of life. I wanted to create a program that gave not only to employees, but to the world at large.”

    In 2020, we made 20 donations from our referral program for a total of $55,000 given to 501(c)(3)s like RAICES Texas, Autism Speaks, Trans Lifeline, and the ASPCA, to name a few. A side-bonus of this referral program: Dave was a bit nervous to pitch it to our executive team, but upon their immediate buy-in, he knew that Cockroach Labs was a good value fit for him.

    Charitable Giving Through MarketingCopy Icon

    virtual badge scan for charity

    Work in tech long enough, and you’ll get a closet full of t-shirts you don’t wear. And probably some hoodies. As our events manager, Jp Sisneros spends a lot of time in convention centers staffing and perusing software company booths.

    In 2019 he took a step back to think about why we were giving away t-shirts and socks. What could we do that spoke more to who we are as a company, what we care about, and what our product does? He started a campaign at two of the biggest tech trade shows in North America— we committed to donating to Women Who Code for each scan we received at KubeCon North American and AWS re:Invent. In 2020, we expanded this campaign. During KubeConEU, we partnered with Sysdig and Instana to donate $2 to Black Girls Code for every booth visit. Every time we offer swag to a member of the CockroachDB community, we also give them the opportunity to make a donation to charity, instead. Since we first started these campaigns for charity, we’ve given over $25,000 to Women Who Code, Black Girls Code, Code2040, and StartOut.

    Our Recruiting team liked this idea so much that they chose to give donations to Black Girls Code throughout 2020 in lieu of swag at virtual events!

    Peer Acks Committee to Give BackCopy Icon

    One way we express gratitude towards one another at Cockroach Labs is through a tradition called peer acks. Throughout the week, acknowledgments come in with a storm of emoji reacts, and–if they’re written in poetry–get read out at team meetings. At the end of the year, each peer ack grants employees one entry into a raffle to join the Pay It Forward Committee, a team of five Roachers who are granted $10,000 to donate to 501(c)(3) charities doing good in the world. This year, the Pay it Forward Committee organized their budget into five categories they cared about: education, disaster relief, health, social justice, and conservation. They did a bunch of research on where charity dollars do the most good, and they donated to the following organizations:

    The committee also gave to the Cockroach Labs Black History Month fundraiser, which benefited organizations such as dev/color, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Center for Black Equity, and the Loveland Foundation. What we like about this practice is that the end of year charitable giving isn’t the reason we give peer acks: the primary benefit is acknowledging one another. The charitable giving becomes an added benefit on top of an existing practice and an opportunity to “Pay it Forward.”

    Charitable Giving Back as a Company PerkCopy Icon

    The underlying commonality in these three programs is a belief that people are motivated to give; they’re motivated by giving to charity as much (or even more!) than they are by free swag. Over the past year, it’s a bet that’s paid off, both with our team and with the causes we care about.

    If these values resonate with you, check out our current job listings!

    Women who code