Most if not all IT related companies use or rely on open source software, but only a tiny part of them contributes back.
Most of the time, reasons for not contributing are lack of time, packaging and maintenance code, necessity to create a great code to show the company technical skills, or fear to empower the competition.
These are fallacious reasons but they show your company won’t contribute to open source projects unless you help it in spite of it.
There’s something you can do for open source without releasing the company’s code, taking the time to package it or build awesome, 10 people reviewed libs. You can improve the free or open source software you’re using when you need it.
- Create a Github organization for your company. It’s free and you don’t need to be an official to do it. Name it yourcompany-labs so you leave your company officially go on Github someday. Name it something else more or less related if you fear to be kicked in the butt for this, you can rename it later.
- When you find a bug or a small missing feature in a piece of code you use, don’t fix it and keep it to yourself. Fork the project under your company’s organization.
- Create an issue upstream. Document it well. You want your open source contribution to mirror your company’s technical skills, and writing good documentation is part of it.
- Don’t wait for someone to fix your bug or code that missing feature. Do it, and create a pull request from it. You don’t even need to be a badass in the language the project uses. My first contribution to Ansible was also my very first experience with Python.
- Embed your colleagues who’re like minded so they can do the same.
Indeed you can contribute and push that code under your own name. It’s easier and you (probably) won’t be yelled at for wasting the company’s resources. Indeed, you’ll have to trick your company and it may end badly, so the best way to do it is bringing the management with you and show how that no cost operation can have a very positive effect on the company’s reputation in the tech field, and furthermore in recruitments.