Sonu Ratra started on the DE&I journey at a very young age. She was raised in India – with its multitude of cultures and varied groups – by parents who instilled in her the value of every human being, regardless of background or ethnicity. Those beliefs held her in good stead when she went on to co-found technology staffing company Akraya. Nearly 15 years later, she is still a passionate advocate for diversity both in her professional and personal life.
Ratra cites the creation of Akraya’s Women Back to Work program six years ago as her proudest achievement. Through WBW, women with technical backgrounds who had taken career breaks are connected with partnered companies to rejoin the workforce. “I also faced challenges when I tried to return to work after a short gap in my career. Having seen the hurdles, I have the opportunity and the responsibility to pay it forward,” Ratra explains. Akraya itself comprises 80% women.
Besides helping women, her efforts also extend to other underrepresented communities. A runner herself, Ratra’s perception of DE&I work changed after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. “I remember freezing hearing that news,” Ratra says. “That followed by George Floyd. I knew that what I was doing was not enough.” Ratra serves on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Racial, Justice and Equity committee, formed in September 2020, where she collaborates with leaders to build a policy voice around state and federal legislation in the areas of diversity and racial equity.
Until DE&I is a part of a company’s DNA, they are simply not doing enough, Ratra says. However, necessary work first needs to occur within ourselves and our homes. “We have to first start by examining our own biases, both explicit or implicit,” Ratra says. “We all have the responsibility for the equal world we want to create.”
2021 DE&I Influencers List