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Blogging at GHC15: (Another Perspective) Diversify Your Hiring Pipeline: A How-to Guide

So, how do we diversity the pipeline?

The speakers of the GHC15 session talk start with an anecdote about being approached by a company who wanted to remove names from resumes to remove bias.  When they analyzed the company’s job pipeline to look for the drop-off point, they found that the resume review process was not actually a big part of the problem.  At phone screens and interviews there was a pretty big disparity.

This made me think about different things I’ve been trying or advocating for at work.  Which diversity techniques are actually having an impact?

We shifted to talking about job descriptions.  Any checklist is never good enough.  There are the basics in writing job descriptions, being mindful of masculine pronouns, etc.

First, some don’ts on job descriptions:
– Don’t use adjectives like Rockstar and Badass in your job descriptions.
– Don’t use sports references or other masculine analogies: Home Run, Mission Critical.
– Don’t be formal.  You don’t need to call them the “ideal candidate” just say you.
– Don’t include an equal opportunity statement pro forma, include a sincere statement on how you value diversity.

The word “nerf” (as in nerf guns) is a gateway word to bad culture much in the way that “synergy” is a gateway word to bad management.  When “nerf” comes up as a pitch for company culture, it’s a huge red flag for potential cultural problems in the workplace.  I can see this happening as I really don’t see “nerf” or toy weapons as a plus in the office.

What about referrals?

A lot of companies rely heavily on refers to source their pipeline.  The fact is that our networks tend to be pretty homogeneous.  Unless you challenge employees to give diverse referrals, people aren’t going to naturally refer diverse candidates.

And what about those pedigrees?  There actually isn’t a correlation between institution and the quality of a candidate.  Filtering candidates by school is just introducing bias into the process.

Where does unconscious bias fit in?

Snap decisions are prone to unconscious bias (makes sense) and 11th hour culture fit failures.  When the feedback is centered around “seems…” phrases and negative culture fit notes, re-evaluate what the feedback actually means.  If she “seems to lack confidence,” was this gender bias?  If she “seems to be more assertive,” is this gender bias?  These tips apply to minority candidates as well.

Culture fit implies hiring someone that is like the people we already have.  We don’t need another Joe, we need a new team member.  One speaker added that their only culture fit motto is that they need someone with a low ego who is willing to share their point of view.

The interview needs to reflect the work that the person is going to do.

An small anecdote from a speaker: women who were asked to code on a computer performed better (in fact, as well as men) than when they were asked to code on a white board.  I’ve never understood the white board coding…the only time I’ve been asked to white board code at work is…never.

If we’re valuing diversity, then why aren’t we asking candidates how they value diversity?  If you value something implicit, then make it explicit.

Some of my other takeaways from the talk:
– Ask your diverse employees for their opinion on diversifying the pipeline.  (Yes!  Ask me!)
– The interview needs to reflect the work that the person is going to do.
– Ask the candidate how they will value diversity in the workplace.

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This post was syndicated from Tech Girl Solutions: Finding the Female Engineer.