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What Founders Should Know about Inclusive Hiring Advice from Unqork, Netflix, Anaplan, and more

Sadasia McCutchen
11 Aug 2021
What Founders Should Know about Inclusive Hiring — Advice from Unqork, Netflix, Anaplan, and more

We regularly invite industry leaders to join our portfolio CEOs and other leaders to discuss hot topics that are relevant and timely for hyper-growth environments.

In this recent session, the conversation was all about the challenges, nuances and triumphs of inclusive hiring — and how it can help propel successful organizations to greater heights.

Our featured leaders were Netta Jenkins, VP Global Inclusion, Unqork and co-founder, Dipper (ourdipper.com); Wade Davis, VP Inclusion/Product, Netflix; Verna Myers, VP Inclusion Strategy, Netflix; and Sherika Ekpo, Chief D&I Officer, Anaplan. What follows are the main principles and best practices raised by the panelists and 40 participants among our portfolio leaders, including a helpful note you can adapt to send to your people managers.

Embed Diversity Equity and Inclusion into company goals

DEI is everyone’s job and must be embedded in the work we all do; it should be a core competency for every hiring manager. Having fluency in the issues, teams’ numbers and progress, and the company’s progress and strategies to improve should be intrinsic to our operations. And having DEI KPIs — including those for recruiting and retention — are a great way to get everyone aligned.

What recruiters can do

When recruiting teams are on deadline to fill positions, the excuse for not locating a more diverse pool is all too often “we could not find diverse talent”. That’s unacceptable, and the message it sends is that there’s no point in trying. Instead, recruiters should dedicate at least 25% of their time to building relationships with overlooked populations.

Recruiters must be equipped to push back on managers who say “no diverse candidates were qualified.” What does “qualified” mean? One can look good on paper, but demonstrate poor behavior in an interview, or simply not add a new perspective that could help the business. Digging into the qualifications that matter most — which reflect CQ (culture quotient, empathy, problem-solving skills, communication, and so on) will help managers assess potential biases — and value different strengths.

In feedback he sent us after the session, Notarize CEO Pat Kinsel added this:

"Not all talent meets the traditional qualifications the tech industry looks for. We need to broaden our qualifications and the ways we assess people’s ability to succeed here. Every hiring manager should be able to articulate not only the traditional qualifications for a role, but other ways that someone might be able to demonstrate the characteristics that we need. It could be military service, managing a team in the service industry, etc."

Recruiters and hiring managers can build new relationships with overlooked groups by seeking out the (many) organizations that have the representation they lack, to learn about the gaps that exist, and to build trust with those groups. Recruiters should also help with opportunities for hiring and people managers to regularly engage with overlooked populations.

In meetings and presentations of any size, as well as in marketing materials, recruiters must customize their messaging to make the case that their company actively demonstrates diversity, inclusion, belonging, and innovation.

Most candidates from historically excluded groups want to know how you (the recruiter, the company representative) talk about EID. Managers and TA Partners can easily do this via their Linkedin profiles by sharing their thoughts on the importance of building diverse and inclusive teams.

What managers can do

Managers should assess which groups are overrepresented in their networks, and why. It may be helpful to host Conscious Inclusion workshops for hiring managers.

None of this happens overnight. It all takes time to build. Netta Jenkins from Unqork and Dipper graciously shared the note she sends to all managers and their direct reports, printed in full here. If you need a fresh approach for inclusive hiring (and retention), this is a great model to follow.

The best strategy to make progress on your Recruiting/Retention KPI is to empower every individual on the team to take ownership of this KPI by dividing responsibility. I recommend discussing as a team and delegating specific tasks and goals. 

Some ideas on how individuals can contribute:

As a team, build profiles for each role and level in order to create transparency around the technical skills, behavioral competencies, and other attributes employees must demonstrate at that role/level. This gives team members a clear path to their next opportunity, as well as consistency in the evaluation and promotion processes.

Build a strong relationship with your Talent Acquisition partner to ensure you are aligned on goals and are working together on inclusive job posting requirements.

Refocus your interview panel to make sure there is equal representation on the interview lineup. It should be at least 50% women, and Black, Latinx, or Asian representation. Someone can be responsible for ensuring this is standard across the board and communicating this to your recruiting partner.

Someone should compile a standard list of questions for interviewers that include at least three DEI interview questions. This person should connect with team interviewers to ensure different questions are being asked during each stage of the process. 

Please refer to this interview standardization guide.

Someone should ensure each interviewer left detailed feedback in interview score cards on our system for each interview that takes place. Ensure there is no bias, and if so to share that with the interviewer on the team and talk through the responses.

Consider reaching out to organizations that focus specifically on women or BIPOC talent to speak about the work Unqork is doing and the upcoming opportunities on your team. This will grow representation in your pipelines.

Focus on identifying skill gaps on the team and sourcing a program that allows learning and growth opportunities for team members.

Sponsor and attend conferences that are geared toward BIPOC and women-identifying (or whatever background you are targeting) professionals.

Our thanks again to the guests and all of the participants. We’ll return to this critical topic in future events.

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