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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting. With me is my dear friend and co-host JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. Today, our topic is diversity recruiting. JoDee, I’m very excited about this topic today, because as I work with companies, as we talk about their talent acquisition strategies, every single one of them says to me, “Susan, I really want to get better at diversity recruiting,” and then I have to peel that back and say, “What do you mean?”. Usually I hear things like, our workforce is really aging, we’ve got a lot of people talking about they’re contemplating retirement, they really want to start attracting people of different generations. I hear that quite a bit. I also hear from companies, they’re saying, you know, we have a board that is primarily all white males, our executive team is primarily all white. We really want to reflect the communities we serve, we want to reflect our total population of employees better. Help us as we think about our talent acquisition and really our succession planning. How do we become more diverse? So I think this topic is one that is going to resonate with a lot of our business leader listeners, as well as our HR professionals.
Yeah. Well, and I love the way the…as you mentioned, some of the companies talking to you were saying “help us be better at it.” I hear a lot of companies saying, “we need to do it but we don’t know how,” or “we’ve tried this and we’ve tried that, and it didn’t work, so we’re not, you know, it’s not going to happen for us.” I even talked to a president of a very large company just in the past couple of weeks who said, “I think diversity is important, but I feel like we’re we’re doing a good job of it, because we do a lot of governmental projects that require us to have minority subcontractors, so we’re doing that a lot more than people think.” And I thought…. But as our conversation went on, I said, “Well, I think that’s important. I think that’s great you have minority contractors. But do you have people within your own organization?” I think he…he felt like he could check the box on that one, like, “Oh, we’ve got minority subcontractors. We’re good. We’re moving on with with regular business day to day.” So, yeah, so important to think about the innovation, the different ideas, the different cultures that we can bring together. The real definition of diversity recruiting is the practice of hiring candidates using a process that is free from bias for or against any individual or group of candidates. And we have to be intentional about doing that, about seeking out people who are diverse, whether that’s male or female, or ethnicity, or age, or where they went to college. Right? Or did they all grow up in rural communities or big cities? I mean, there’s so many different factors we can look at to measure.
I agree. And then study after study proves that the more diverse thinking and diverse people you have around the table, the more productive the company is, the higher the earnings, so I think that we don’t have to sell it as a business case anymore. I think now we’ve got to help businesses figure out how to do it.
Have you ever had any manager say to you, “I just don’t think that the talent pool is out there of what I need. I don’t…I don’t think that there are,” fill in the blank, “engineers who have this specialty,” and blah, blah, blah. Whenever I hear that, I just shake my head, it says we’re not looking hard enough. Or maybe we need to take internal talent who is diverse and invest in getting them the skills they need so that we can break through that glass ceiling to help that individual and make us a better company.
Right. I love that approach of taking internal talent to do it, but also, maybe we need to be looking somewhere else to find people. So. Well, I’m super excited about our show today, because I think we’ve got very fascinating guests who bring a lot of even personal stories and examples and methodologies, software platforms on how we can be better at this diversity recruiting.
I think that’s going to be great tools for all of us. So let’s get started.
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We look forward to hearing from you.
Our first guest today is Jerome Ternynck. Jerome is a recognized leader in the recruiting technology industry with three successful exits over 30 years of building global businesses and award winning software. He argues that the ability to hire exceptional talent is the true sustainable differentiator for any business to compete, especially when nearly 80% of CEOs see hiring for key skills as their major threat. Jerome currently serves as Founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based SmartRecruiters, a global talent acquisition suite rated as the most strategic provider by industry analysts. He dedicates personal time to connecting people with jobs as well, having started the Reverse Recruiting movement and volunteering with Entrepreneurs-in-Training programs of state prisons. Jerome, we are so excited that you’re with us today. And particularly, we understand that you’ve recently released 10 principles of diversity recruiting. We know our listeners are hungry, trying to figure out how do you become an employer that really does a good job bringing in diversity? Would you be willing to share with us your 10 principles, and we’d love to hear any of your insights?
Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. And you’re right, I think that diversity recruiting, like many topics, is full of good intentions. Like, people want to make a difference, but they don’t really know where where to start. Right? And so, at SmartRecruiters, we’re a talent acquisition suite, so we power recruiting for hundreds, actually, thousands of organizations, big ones, Visa, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bosch, and so on, and I talk to all our customers who are the global heads of recruiting. “So what are you guys doing?” And they always have some anecdotal project – “Oh, we’re sponsoring this university,” “We partnered with this association” – but they never really had a consistent answer to say, okay, in an ideal world, what does great diversity hiring look like. And that’s why we teamed up with all our customers to try and define a market standard, to say, okay, these are the 10 things that you can do as a…as a head of recruiting, as a…as an executive in an organization, to drive more diverse hiring. And so I’m happy to share…share those with you, if that makes sense.
Yes, please do.
So we started with, the very basic is, you need a diverse hiring team. So underrepresented groups need to be properly represented within the hiring team such that hiring decisions are not driven by a single person who replicates bias, but actually by a diverse team. And this is the hiring manager, the interviewers, and the recruiters. Like, if the team that actually makes the decision is not diverse, you’re never going to reach diversity. So start there and scrutinize who’s on the hiring teams, who makes the hiring decision, and influence that at the start. Right? Second, make sure that the hiring team is properly aware. And so ensure that you could actually say nobody is allowed to interview or hire candidates unless they actually have gone through an awareness training, an anti-bias training, an anti-racist training, depending where you are and what you want to do. Third, if you want to achieve something, you need to have objectives. So have clear representation objectives, and to the extent permitted by law, state those representation objectives for job categories and measure your business against those objectives. Right? A white dude sales manager who has hired 10 white males in a row should actually be fired. Like, seriously. Right? So that you actually have to hold your account…your executive accountable for representation.
Jerome, I’m sorry, I just wanted to ask a quick question about that, because this past week, Wells Fargo made the news because I think…I’m trying to remember, was it the OFCCP, who’s challenging the fact that they said that we’re going to increase the minority representation, I think, at their executive level by a certain amount over the next year or whatever. And Wells Fargo came back and said, no, we don’t feel like we’re making decisions based on race, because obviously you can’t discriminate on the basis of race. I don’t know if your group has looked at that or there’s concern when you set objectives, you set certain targets, are you starting to make decisions based on race?
You are. You absolutely are. And…and I think that it comes to a simple question that I have actually asked to every single person I interviewed for this and I…it gets, like, close to 100. And I always close my interview or my questioning by this one question. Is discrimination acceptable in the name of diversity? And it’s really interesting, because you have, half of the people are like, “absolutely, yes, otherwise, how can you change the past?”. Right? And the other is like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, of course not.” Like, yeah, but…. Yeah, if you don’t…if you don’t bend history, you’re not going to change history. There’s a big lawsuit that actually Google lost, because they, at some point – this is, like, five years ago – they sent an email to the recruiters, said, guys, we have enough white and Asian males in the pipe, like, don’t invite any more to interviews, because we really need to focus on having more women, more ethnic diversity, more this, more that, so. And then one of the recruiters sued them, actually, for discrimination, rightly so, because it is discrimination. But then, if you don’t do it, then you just…you know, if…if the Stanford engineering output is a 98% of white males, then you are going to hire 98% of the white males unless you do something against it. So I actually think that you can do much. What you cannot do is change the demographics. What you can do, and this is in the principles, is you can overinvest in sourcing channels that provide underrepresented groups. Right? And you can basically, as an organization, by being yourself inclusive, diverse, and…and committed to diversity, you end up getting an unfair share of the diverse talent. And now your competitors can remain white males dominated, whatever, they’ll die over time, but you’re getting the best talent, you’re getting the benefit of being diverse. So I think there’s a way to do it, that you basically, quote, unquote, “discriminate,” at the sourcing level, because you put your money to find diverse talent, which in a way is discrimination, if you are going to sponsor a predominantly black college and not sponsor Stanford any way, you are discriminating. Right? I mean, your assumption is you’re going to get more black…. And so we have to, whether it’s about black, or it’s about women, or it’s about any form of diversity, we have to be clear that, yes, you need to bend history a bit. Now what you cannot do, I think, is, like, face two candidates and say, “Okay, yeah, I would love to hire you, but unfortunately, you’re a white male.” Yeah. Although, although, although this actually happens in other areas that are not recruiting related, and we can talk about this. But if you hire a board member…for example, as part of our plan to become an anti-racist force in the recruiting market, which we published a few months ago, I stated, “I will hire a black woman to the board. If you are a white male, don’t apply, you’re not getting hired.” Right? So that’s discrimination. Is it? Or do I…am I just looking for representation? We recently had one of our big customer, when we signed our renewal, they inserted a new clause in the contract, and this is a Fortune 50 company. Like, what is this clause? And this clause says, by doing business with us, SmartRecruiters commit that 15% of its suppliers will be from diverse or black-owned businesses. I mean, that’s discrimination, because I called my advertising agency and I told them, sorry, you’re white. We’re gonna have to switch. Right? But unfortunately, this is how you bend history. Right?
You’re in the state of California, and wasn’t it your governor just recently said that, I think by the end of 2021, for boards, isn’t it that they have to have a certain percentage that is from a…either a minority group, or maybe it’s female? I’m not sure which. Wasn’t there something recently that…that he’s mandating it at the state level?
Yeah. And I think, though, the…. I’m hoping that businesses can react faster than their legislator. Like, if this all becomes law, frankly, this is how…this doesn’t induce proper behaviors, it’s going to force behaviors, it’s going to just make the topic more exacerbated. I don’t think that we need too many regulations on this front.
I agree with what…your philosophy and your thinking. I think the only thing, if I was a listener, I’d be a little nervous about setting target numbers. Certainly, if you’re an affirmative action employer, you can set goals, you can work to get them. But I love your idea about the top of the funnel, overinvesting in areas so that you have a plethora of diverse candidates. Makes all the sense in the world to me.
Yeah. Well, and I think we hear so many times from people who say, “Well, I’m trying to be more diverse, but I’m not finding people. I’m not finding people that meet my qualifications.” And so I also love that concept of overinvesting in different sources and maybe re-looking at your qualifications. Do you have the right qualifications for the role or are you, in your example, keep hiring people from Stanford? Right? Like, look somewhere else. So.
Yes, yeah. And that comes, that comes also in the principles here. So after objectives, we have an inclusive hiring process, so making sure that the hiring process provides reasonable accommodation and is based on equality. Right? So, not everybody is treated equally, but equal…equality here is important and revisit your hiring process. For example, if you talk about neurodiversity, I think it was Microsoft, had a beautiful program running this past couple of years for people who are on the autism spectrum. One thing that an autist cannot do is a job interview. Like, this is the opposite of what an autist can perform at. Right? They can do a lot of things, but not a job interview. And so Microsoft just removed the need for job interviews, and they just actually hired people that were somewhere on the autism spectrum. They put them on projects, and for a 90 day period, they had these people working in teams, and hiring managers would come and work with them, and selection would happen without actually the person really realizing. And then at the end, they would get job offers. Right? And they just got rid of job interviews. I see this is a beautiful example of an inclusive hiring process. Right? And certainly very smart. Yeah, certainly very smart for Microsoft, who’s getting amazing talent that they otherwise would would not get access. Right? Too, the unemployment rate for people with…who are neurodivergent is 85%. 85%. Right? And their suicide rate is 5x the average the national average. So there’s something to be said about this. Then we go to the neutral job description, JoDee. This is the part that really gets interesting, is that job descriptions are, like, a long list of all the reasons why you shouldn’t apply if you’re not part of the majority. Right? So reduce your job…your job requirements and focus the jobs – and this comes then in interviewing – focus the jobs on must achieves, not on must haves. Like, we…we say, oh, I need to…I need to achieve…what do I need this person to achieve something. Make great coffee, be friendly with the customer, show up on time, and upsell the customer with a sandwich more than others. Barista at Starbucks, right? And then we translate this into four years of retail experience, a degree in this, speaks Mandarin, it’s like, whoa, wait, what? Right? And so we actually, I think, should…should have more neutral job description and give people a chance to perform. And I think in…in this world, we…we actually would gain a lot to have in recruiting a lot less focus on requirements, a lot more focus on success. We had this beautiful example during COVID. We, of course, our office shut down in March. Right? So our office manager in San Francisco, who’s office manager, receptionist, office manager, a really nice person. She’s out of a job. So we’re like, okay, now what are we going to do with you…. Oh, look, there is a position here for mid-market account manager. You…you have to start looking after a portfolio of 200 smaller customers and make them happy and make sure they renew their contract. Do you want to try that? And she goes, yeah, of course, I want to try that. She went into that, the team rallied around her, they did daily stand ups to bring her up to speed. At the end of the second quarter, she was our best performing account manager.
Oh, that’s fantastic!
She had never ever done this before. Right? And just positive attitude, well supported, turns out she’s a good salesperson, she can interact with people. Now, do you think she would make my screening or my job requirements? She wouldn’t even apply to the job. And so I think we would discover untapped talent by relaxing a bit our requirements. So I’m very, very interested in that.
Jerome, I’m going to start using that “must achieve.” I think that’s a great way to reframe a job description.
And so much better for the candidates, too, to understand what the expectations are for the position as opposed to just the job description itself. So I think it’s a win win on both sides.
It is, and I’ll come back to that, actually, because as part of the process, it’s also an important way to evaluate candidates. But before I do that, after job description, we get to the dedicated sourcing. So this is principle number six. And I think here, this is very simple. If you want to drive diversity, stop posting your jobs to where white males are hanging around and stop paying for referrals from white males referring their golf buddies. Like, seriously. And put your money where your mouth is and actually drive proper sourcing programs, invest in marketing and in…in sourcing, and you should just, like, if you say, okay, I’m going to put all my efforts in underrepresented groups, the majority is going to come organically anyway. And so you’re going to come back with your pipeline of candidate that is naturally a lot more balanced and diverse. Then you got to, once you have diverse candidates, you got to make sure that you do not discriminate in screening. So the resume to interview, this is a critical moment of the process, no bias screening. Can leverage technology for this. An AI can read things and make recommendations that don’t look at the name of the person. You can mask resume, but I think it’s a bit like you’re kicking the can down the road somehow. But that does help. Because at this point today, that I think was the BBC recently tested, Adam and Mohammed sent 100 resumes to 100 companies, the same resume, just the name is different. Adam got four times more interviews than Mohammed. Four times.
So this is in full swing. Same resume exactly, just…they just changed the name, sent it to 100 companies, four times more interviews. Right? And so…so there, you know, it’s like, “oh, we cannot find them.” Yeah, sure. No. Right? And then when you dig, the recruiters usually aren’t the problem. The recruiters, they got into recruiting because they love people usually, they love diversity. They just say, “Yeah, I know if I submit Mohammed to this hiring manager he’s going to kill me.” Right? So actually, you have to take control of that screening process and force…force through an equal or proper representation. And then that takes me to interviewing and structured interviewing, and this is probably, if you’re going to do one thing on this list, this is the most important one. Because interviewing, this is where bias happens. Right? It’s like, we are biased as human.
Right. We all bring our own filters.
You…of course, right? So…if you go into an interview and we have a chat, what am I evaluating? My chit chat is evaluating whether I like you as a human being. Guess what? This is irrelevant for the job. Like, it really doesn’t matter. It matters if you have the right values, it matter if you have the right personality for the job, it matters if you have the right capabilities, if you can achieve the job. I mean, it doesn’t matter if I like you or not. And most people evaluate did I like this person. So you need to have structured interviews with a clear interview scorecard that defines the must achieves, and you need to ask – force, not ask – force your interviewers to actually fill in this scorecard. And then you drive the hiring decision based on documented evidence of a scorecard. If you add, then you remove the discrimination instantly, right? And you avoid yourself…you avoid mistakes. Literally this morning, I avoided a hiring mistake where we had this person that we were interviewing, and he saw three people, two guys, one woman. And both of us – I was one of the two – both of those guys were like, yeah, no, perfect, exactly what we need. And the women on the panel said, mmm, he’s kind of a bit talking at me rather than talking to me, I don’t think he’s the inclusive leader we need, honestly, I mean, his skill set is okay, but I…mmm. Right? And we were like, “oh,” cuz we really liked him. Right? What do you do? Yeah, but already start by building an organization where a woman, or anybody actually, feels entitled, feels encouraged to speak up and say, I don’t think so. Right? Because this is the starting point. And they can only do this if you provide a proper structured…structure to the to the scorecard. Otherwise, this quickly gets behind closed doors, and the person is going to retract and not give their opinion, and what is an organization in which people cannot give their opinion? It’s an organization that’s dying, right?
It’s not JoyPowered®.
It’s not JoyPowered®, absolutely not JoyPowered®. And people cannot express what they need, what they want, and next thing they don’t express is the great idea that could have transformed your business, right? So that structured interviewing. We made it, at SmartRecruiters we made it very clear. So I don’t start hiring if there is not a clear interview scorecard with must achieve criteria, that I want to know exactly what this job is about. Second, I make sure that the hiring team on the job is representative of the groups I want to have. And third, I say anyone can interview candidates on behalf of SmartRecruiters, the only thing I ask is you fill in the scorecard. And if you fail to do it, it’s okay. You just will not be asked to interview any…any more candidates on behalf of SmartRecruiters, period. Guess what? Everybody does it. Right? Because they are…they’re happy to be asked to interview candidates. Right? So that that works.
We only have three more minutes with you, Jerome, so I’m so sorry, but we’re not – we don’t have your 10th yet.
Yeah, there’s actually two more and it’s inclusive…inclusive onboarding, so making sure that people who don’t belong initially absolutely belong during onboarding. And the last one is fair internal hiring. You need to stop promoting people based on, you know, we had a good golf game last week. Every internal position needs to go through a proper recruiting process. So your recruiting team, your talent acquisition team needs to own internal hiring, because they are going to make it fair and competitive internally. Right? And so fair internal hiring to ensure that promotions are not arbitrary.
I love these 10.
I do, too. Really great advice. And I…you know, you said you thought structured interviewing was one of the more important ones. And that just it makes it easier for everyone, too, right? Most…so many people are not comfortable with interviewing, so if you provide that structure to them, once again, win win for everyone. So I love that one?
Yeah, it’s a big one. And at the end, you obtain the holy grail of having a diverse organization, and diverse organization perform better than non-diverse organization, they have more ideas, they are more open-minded, and they move faster, and they are more creative, and…and just outperform the competitions. Right? So we’re not doing this for charity. We’re not doing this because we believe in a better world. Of course, we believe in a better world. But we, as business people, we actually believe in winning and killing our competition, which is exactly what diverse organization achieve.
Yeah. And Jerome, if our listeners wanted to reach out to you and and find out more about your platform, how can they do that?
So they can…they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Jerome Ternynck, and I’m there and I happily accept connections from HR professionals and recruiting professionals. You can learn more about SmartRecruiters at smartrecruiters.com, and lots of information there if you’re looking to upgrade, your recruiting technology, embrace some of those principles. And then if you actually want to learn more about hiring success, diversity, hiring, and the overall methodology of how to transform recruiting, you can go to hiringsuccess.com, which is the website that reflects the hiring success methodology. And I wrote a book called “Hiring Success” that you can find on Amazon that has a lot of those principles actually in there.
Awesome. And we will have a link to have both Jerome’s book and the link to the his 10 hiring principles that he just talked about as well, which were really fantastic. So thank you so much for joining us today.
I’ve learned a lot. Thank you, Jerome.
Yeah, thank you.
Now a word from our sponsors.
The JoyPowered Workspace Podcast is sponsored by Purple Ink. Purple Ink’s customized HR services will help you make your workspace JoyPowered®. Whether you’re looking for help with recruiting, compliance, or leadership training, we listen to what you need and tailor our solutions to you. What we won’t change? Our positive approach. Check out purpleinkllc.com – that’s purple I-N-K L-L-C dot com – to find out how we can help your business. Our second guest is Vern Howard. Vern is the CEO of Hallo, a diversity recruiting platform that helps connect college students across the country with leading companies like Apple and Google. Hallo was started when he realized in college that he lacked the correct network and informational resources to attain his goal of working for a top corporate brand. He also noticed he wasn’t the only one. Hallo has raised $1.9 million in funding from Canaan Partners, Tribe Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and many other leading VCs.
Welcome, Vern. We are so glad that you’re here. Would you be willing to tell us a little bit about Hallo, when you started it, and how the platform works?
For sure. I think that the biggest thing is right now in the space of HR, diversity’s super important, and for me, my journey to starting Hallo was much of my own story. Graduated at 16 and ultimately didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, and went to college in Virginia to study computer information systems, got a job working at Capital One building out their mobile banking applications inside a desk, I was a hacker at Capital One, as well.
Wow, hey, I got to stop you for a minute, Vern. You graduated from high school at 16?
Yeah, yeah, I was super young.
I am so impressed. No wonder they needed you as a hacker, you’re probably super crazy smart.
Yeah, it was…it was a fun and interesting journey. And I think it’s funny that you even say that, that story was something that Capital One, when I originally started working there, they’d send me around and tell that story to students to kind of, like, recruit them into our organization, like, this thing where, like, you can do whatever you want. And I didn’t go to like a traditional, like, Ivy League school, which most of the new hires at Capital One did. And two things I just noticed was that, one, students lacked access to information on, like, the how to – how to get a job at whatever company – and then they also lacked access on the network to act on that information. And I kind of set out on this mission that I was going to build a platform that gives them access to both of those things so they could make better decisions in their career regardless if they had money to go to a top tier school or not. And 2017, I kind of started building out this just forum where students could ask questions to employers real time, and we raised some money and it scaled, and now we’re in 1,200 universities in the U.S. Pretty exciting.
Oh my gosh.
Vern, do you think that most companies are, quote, “socially aware?” And are…do you really think they’re doing the best they can in terms of diverse recruiting?
I think that they are doing the best that they can with the knowledge that they have. Right? So what’s happening is I think we’ve looked at diversity inclusion from a lens of being very transactional, like, I want 300 URMs and three…like, it’s very data-driven on, in a negative sense. But I think one thing that a lot of companies don’t understand is, like, we have to figure out how to build diverse relationships and authentic relationships in these communities so that it’s not a checkbox thing, where we were looking to hire 300 URMs, whatever that is, but more so we’re trying to kind of build relationships in these communities, to understand how we can organically attract these people. Because once you hire a minority or a woman to your organization, if the culture is inclusive naturally and is a great organization, they will actually shepherd other people like them into your organization for you. So you don’t spend nearly as much on the CPH. Right? You can’t. Right? And it’s…I think that community aspect is something that a lot of people aren’t focusing on. And you know, it’s something that we’re trying to push as a narrative.
I like it.
I think that’s a really smart strategy, just is to really get involved with the community. But are there any other types of things that fundamentally need to change within companies if they truly want to be great, diverse recruiters?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I saw initially is, like, a ton of companies, especially as they go to recruit other talent, they don’t know how to really qualify them. So, like, you know, especially because most of it’s based off of, like, a tier of school. So if they go to Stanford, then it’s great, like, you studied computer science, great, I know how to qualify you, I know your kind of rank in this system that we play in called HR. But if you go to a lesser known school, what we noticed was that a ton of recruiters didn’t know how to qualify those students, like…so, at Howard University, they don’t know the number one major, so they don’t know if they’re talking to the top of the class or not. Right? They don’t know how to qualify the student. So we need to actually dig deeper to do research on certain organizations and at Hallo, this is something that we built into our platform, where we qualify those students for you. We actually rank students and their majors across the U.S. to show the recruiters, like, this student’s actually top of their class at this university you might not have heard of or visited yet, but they’re top top of the class. And if you hire him or her from this organization, it’s very likely you’ll understand the ROI of doing business with this university, but also the ROI of diversity and inclusion at scale, when they help you recruit. So it’s a lot of qualification there.
And so I don’t want to share your trade secret, but, like, what are the factors you use to rank students but beyond the GPA?
Right, right, right, so, one, it’s tons of math. The trade secret is tons of math. But, um, I think one thing we look at is outside of skill set and, like, the GPA, also, like, where…where do they fall in the category of, like, their… Since we built the application, we can actually measure how kind of hungry a student is to gather this information. What we noticed was students who go to kind of, like, the lesser known schools, internally, we were like, wow, these these girls and guys are, like, they’re…they’re hustlers. Like, they really want to…to understand the ins and outs of getting a job at certain companies. And we can actually rank people on, like, how active they are, like, how much they really want to gather this information. And what it allows us to do is build this, like, weighted score, meaning maybe you your major, your university isn’t, like, the number one ranked major at that university. But your thirst for knowledge, especially as it applies to our platform and other platforms. We can show your kind of grit score, like, wow, this student really wants to work here. Right? And I think that’s a that’s a big thing we see is students from the kind of schools that aren’t well known is they are insane learners and they want to move really quickly on how they make decisions and move forward.
So that’s interesting, Vern, I actually went to a lesser known school, I went to a small school in southern Indiana, University of Evansville. And I have always thought that, and especially since I’ve seen my own kids go through college at big, well known public universities where companies come to them. And I think, wow, I wish I had that, like, I…although we had some companies come to us, the majority of my friends and people I went to college with, we had to seek companies out. And it is a totally different experience.
Yeah. And it’s different. And it kind of makes you work harder, but also become, like, this master…not a hacker, but, like, very intentional about how you do things and figuring out ways to maneuver around to get those careers at certain companies that kind of don’t interact with your university today.
Right. Vern, what do you think is one thing that HR departments or recruiters could implement today to ensure diversity is happening in their recruiting practices?
I think a big thing, you know, COVID has had, like, a massive impact on on everyone in a negative aspect, for sure. But I think one of the biggest things that it is, like, dropping barriers in a system to allow us to have these digital communities and digital communications. I think it’s an insanely great time for companies and recruiters to build relationships with these communities, as I said, online, because I think a big thing about HR that no one kind of mentions is, like, money spent needs to see ROI, especially when you’re talking to CHROs. And I think the digital space is allowing recruiters to scale their efforts naturally, but also understand how they can increase their reach to build efforts in diverse communities. And I mean, there’s no better time to do it than now, in my standpoint.
So Vern, why don’t you share, if you would, the life experiences that led you to forming Hallo, which is really this diversity recruiting platform we’ve been talking about?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing for me is I just noticed that there was, like, a gap in the market where, like, a ton of people weren’t gathering the access. It’s not like they didn’t have the talent or the necessary skills to actually move forward. It was just the how to. They couldn’t actually get a foot in the door. And I saw a ton of other platforms out there, for sure, but none that really focused on the education of certain students to, like, make them move forward quickly. And then in my own personal experience, I think most of the jobs that I’ve ever gotten, I was either, quote, unquote, from looking at the job posting “unqualified for,” but I applied anyway. And I…when I kind of had the opportunity to get in the door and go to the interview, I noticed that their…the hiring manager would see that I had transferable skills from other experiences. And it just goes to the fact that conversation is, like, the ultimate equalizer, in my opinion. And that’s why I always focus on building community.
Nice. Vern, within say, the next two years, how do you think diversity recruiting will change, or maybe should change?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing we’re going to see during COVID is, like, the, as I said, the barriers are going to be broken down. I also see this new generation, I guess we call it Gen Z-ers, they’re…they’re very interesting. And they’re in…in a…they have an interesting mindset. I feel like – I just turned 31 – but, like, my generation was kind of 50/50 in a sense of, like, we kind of wanted to do what we wanted to do, but we still were just kind of like, oh yeah, I still need to get a job. Right? Um, this new generation of Gen Z, if a brand that they’re going to even apply to doesn’t, like, match their values in life, then they won’t work there. And they’ll go work another job until that right job that they really want comes…comes into play. They’re really big on their values and how their their work aligns with their values at home, and I think it’s going to push the message of diversity forward in a major way. So.
Yeah. I agree.
Vern, what is the best way for any of our listeners to contact you if they want to learn more?
Yeah, so I’m active on Twitter and LinkedIn, so on LinkedIn it’s just Vern Howard. But also just check out Hallo, for sure, we…I interact with just about everyone on the platform, even though we are over 1,200 universities now I still talk to just about everybody. So just H-A-L-L-O T-H-E-R-E dot com.
Beautiful. Gosh, Vern, thank you so much for joining today.
Thank you. Thank you so much. And take care guys.
All right, thank you.
Wish you the best. So our next guest is Andrew Darby, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at AXIS Capital, based in New York City. Prior to AXIS Capital, Andrew worked at AIG in global executive recruiting, and prior to that he was the vice president and an executive recruiter at JPMorgan Chase, which is where I had the pleasure of working with Andrew. He is my all-time very favorite talent acquisition partner I’ve ever had a chance to work with, so I am just thrilled that he was able to make it to this podcast. Andrew, welcome.
Thank you. Thanks for the lovely introduction.
Ah, my pleasure.
You’re my favorite HR partner as well. I’m not just saying that, but that’s why we’re here today.
Even though we left the organization, we refused to quit each other, which is what I like.
So, as we’re talking about diverse recruiting and trying to find diverse candidates, Andrew, how frequently in your career have you had hiring managers say to you, listen, we want to fill this opening, can you help us find some diverse candidates?
Yeah, I think it’s a topic that’s on top of our mind, and it’s a topic that’s top of mind of managers. So I think what we need to do first is recognize that that’s a really good thing. That managers are, they’re aware of diversity, equity, inclusion, and they want it. And so…sorry for being long winded, but to answer your question, it’s a regular occurrence that we get asked, and you do have to balance it, right, in terms of saying, “I want a diverse candidate,” or what we should be saying is “we want a diverse slate of candidates,” because obviously, you know, there are legal things that we have to be aware of, that the best…best candidate should get the job. But obviously, there should definitely be a diverse candidate on that. And also, you know, when there is…there is more than one diverse candidate on on there, what we found is that it’s more likely that the diverse candidate will get the job. Right? And so managers, if they just see one diverse candidate, they think that’s the candidate I’ve got to speak to, because that’s part of the process. But actually, when you have a broader and more diverse slate, actually, the candidates are more prone to get…get those jobs in the long run. So for me, it’s about providing diverse slates of candidates, but also providing diverse candidates on those slates. I know that sounds silly, but kind of more than one is really, really important.
Yeah, no, I think that’s a great idea. What do you do specifically to be able to find that diverse slate? What have you done that has proven to be effective?
You know, what I’ve found right now, we’re kind of in the kind of the second phase of diverse recruiting, if you will. And so I think if you speak to some of my colleagues across other organizations, they will say, we’ve got to develop diverse pipelines, we’ve got to have a diverse person on the interview slate, you know, we’ve got to post it to diverse websites. And they’re really important, obviously, but they’re kind of, again, for want of a better term, “so last year,” right? They’re…they’re the kind of shotgun approaches that that kind of plaster tape rather than really make a difference. And so the things that that myself and my team and my colleagues have really been focused on, quite frankly, is, how do we embolden our employer brand. Right? So if you are a diverse candidate, you know, we’re not just walking the talk. When you come into our offices, you see the diverse…diversity of our organization, or, you know, there is a…there’s a mentorship program that we offer, etc. So, one of the things that, you know, I and my team have really tried to do is really emphasize, what is our diversity statistics. One of the key points to our diverse candidates is we talk about our diversity retention, as well. And then thirdly, you know, what are the career opportunities for those people, based on the fact that that’s what we should be doing with all our employees, is thinking about career paths, rather than just hire somebody for the job? Because, you know…and I know, Susan, we’ve talked about this before. If we were just to hire a diverse candidate, and they didn’t get a good experience, and they left the organization, that, if you want, our reputational risk is way more in trouble, if you will, than…than us trying to really embolden our employer brand. So with that, you know, that would be the first part, I’d say. The second part is I’ve tried to build a team of recruiters which don’t see themselves as diversity recruiters. Right? I…you know, this…there was a time where people wanted to recruit a diversity recruiter. My opinion should be that everybody…every recruiter should be a diversity recruiter. There could be a space for diversity sourcers, so I have somebody on my team that really goes out to network with key organizations within our industry, etc, to really develop those relationships. But…but having a diverse team of recruiters that see themselves as diverse recruiters, offering them training, and, you know, I think with any a thing…anything like this is we have to assume positive intent with everybody. Right? I think that’s really important as well.
And do you mean that by the hiring managers, do you mean that by the recruiters, the sourcers, who do you think it’s really important that we help instill that positive…make sure that we assume innocence?
Yeah, I think part of our role as recruiters is to be consultative and solutions based. I know they’re kind of very buzzwords. But for a manager, this could be their first person they’ve ever hired.
Right? And so, you know, they may not know some of the kind of diversity, equity, inclusion kind of programs that we’re involved with. They may not know our…we have a commitment that we’ve…we’ve given to our board that we have a certain percentage of all of our slates are diverse, etc. So being able to kind of engage the managers and talk them through what to expect in the process, but also what to expect from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective, as well, is really, really important. And I think they appreciate it, you know, and, quite frankly, I’m in an industry, in insurance, which is very relationship driven. And they’re very subject matter experts, because we’re specialty insurance, everybody really knows each other. Right? And so what we’re trying to say to managers is, you know, how flexible do you need to be in certain areas? You know, can you recruit for the person sometimes, rather than just the skill set? You know, one thing that’s always, quite frankly, frustrated me, is people said, “Well, I need 10 years of experience for somebody doing this job.” And my immediate response is, well, if you’ve got somebody with 15 years experience that haven’t done much, but three years experience and they’ve accomplished so much and a high performer, what would you want? And I think if you can try and ingrain that into that kind of initial kickoff meeting, I think it’s really supportive of them being able to entertain more diverse candidates from diverse backgrounds, and being able to be more flexible and recruit for the person rather than just the job title.
I am with you.
Yeah, I love it. What a great approach.
So are there any unique challenges that you have found when you’re looking for diverse talent?
There are, yeah. I mean, the…quite frankly, the availability in certain markets. I mean, one of the methodologies that we’ve taken undertaken, particularly with our more senior staff, is we try to map out the market and give…give them, the hiring manager, a quick snapshot of what that talent map from a diverse perspective looks like. So, for example, a senior level recruit…role that I recently was recruiting for, we kind of mapped out our top 15 clients, and we found that it was only 16% of those target people were diverse. So being able to kind of do this in a data-driven way, I think, really helps us as well. And so I think that the challenge for us is, again, making sure that people know that we are a an employer of choice for diverse candidates, that they can see the pathway. But also, again, I think just the general…and it does come down to, perhaps, what some people may consider old school recruiting, is getting out there and networking with people, networking with key constituents, networking with key groups. And also something we’ve found very helpful is setting up some networking with key, obviously, universities and alumni centers, that we can drive networking jobs to…to network with them and amplify our message. I mean, AXIS, to give…give your listeners a an overview, is about 2,000 people globally. So, you know, it’s not a company that most people, quite frankly, would know off the top of their head, you know, we’re a very specialty driven insurance company. And so to be able to compete with some of the companies that…that we know, with the JP Morgans, the AIGs, etc, you know, how can we attract those talents so that they know that we’re…we’re an employer of choice for that is really, really important.
And, Andrew, when you mentioned that you did a map, diversity map, and your example said that maybe 16% was diverse, what does diverse mean to you? Does that mean they’re not a white male, or does it, is it age, everything?
You know what, that is…that’s a terrific question. And it could mean something…and one of the issues, because we are a global company, is it could mean something different in UK, in Europe, compared to the U.S. You know, obviously, as you could probably tell, I’m not originally from from New Jersey, but most of my career has been here. And probably we would consider here in the U.S., you know, kind of, obviously, ethnicity, gender, something that’s becoming more apparent is obviously veterans, as well, and veteran recruitment, do we consider them. In certain parts of the world, in Singapore, it may be something different, but I think for an industry like ours, you know, gender and ethnicity are obviously the key drivers for us, particularly gender, quite frankly, you know, in certain parts of our industry, it’s very male driven. And so there are targets within some of our…we’re obviously…as well. And so there are kind of some initiatives being driven from…from some of our clients to say, you know, what…what we’re doing to drive some of that recruitment, as well. So, you know, that there is…there is a spotlight, if you like, on it. And for good reason. And for good reason.
Mm. Nice. Thank you.
So our last question for you is, what advice would you want to leave with our listeners to help them as they’re trying to figure out how to increase the diversity makeup of their leadership, their supervisors, and their total workforce?
I think my first thing would say, be bold, and be brave, don’t be scared. You know, I think, again, we talked about that…that positive intent, as well, you know, so my advice to listeners would say, look above the…yes, we need a pipeline, yes, we should have somebody of a diverse background interview candidates, you know, etc, etc. I would kind of think above that. Think about…put yourself in the shoes of a candidate. What do you want to hear from an organization that would not only make you take the job, but make you want to stay there four or five years down the road? One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve been very lucky, we’ve got some key diverse senior leaders, and we’ve really used them to amplify our message, if you will. Right? And there is a terrific article out there, which I’ll have to share with you, Susan, from a university of standards in…recently in the New York Times, and she talks about, you know, when diverse candidates get to senior level positions, some really embrace it and want to really encourage it, there are some that kind of go, well, I’m part of that group now, it’s up to other people to follow me. And so we really need to do a job of, you know, once we’ve got these senior leaders into senior…senior diverse leaders into these roles, what can we do to amplify that message and help have them support a kind of continued pipeline of people, if you will.
Yeah, that’s great. We can put that link to that article in our show notes. So thank you.
It was really enlightening. I’ll certainly share that. The other thing that we introduced was really kind of a more formalized structured interview guide. Right? And so if you can really increase the quality of your assessment process, you actually find so much more out about the candidates. And it will drive more…where you thought…it takes some of that unconscious bias out that we all have with…with candidates, out of that process so you can really kind of get a data-driven analytical approach to making the decision process better for you.
Great advice. Good. Thank you.
Andrew, we are so glad you joined us today. Thank you so very much.
Absolute pleasure. Thanks very much for taking the time to speak to me.
Yeah, it was great.
JoDee, usually, at this point in an episode, we have a listener question that we receive and that we respond to. Today, we’re going to have a co-host question from me. After working in HR for decades, I continue to be puzzled when, on occasion, I meet someone for the first time at an event, a party, a wedding, a gathering, and they ask me what I do, and I say, well, I work in HR. And sometimes the person either groans or they laugh, or they respond, oh, man, I avoid HR people, or yikes, I’ve made a point in my life not to spend any time with HR people at my company. When this happens, I’m always surprised, as I think HR people are some of the nicest, most capable people you’re ever going to meet. I wondered how common this reaction to HR is. JoDee, do you ever get that kind of a reaction?
Oh, yes. I can tell you I have two sisters, actually – so in my own family – who always are thinking, like, oh, I don’t know how you work in HR. Oh, our HR department’s not very good. Oh, I had to go to HR today. Right? It’s like a constant battle. So I know exactly how you feel.
We don’t want any listener out there who happens to be in the HR profession to get an inferiority complex about this. We think we’re good people. So I found something answers in SHRM’s Summer 2020 edition of HR Magazine. They reported that 30% of employees actively avoid going to HR with a problem. And that – oh my gosh, so it’s not just you, okay, it’s them. They’re actively avoiding us. But here are some of the reasons that this research said as to why these employees actually avoid HR. JoDee, let’s share those.
So 38% of the people said the issue seemed too minor, and I can understand that one. Right? And maybe that’s healthy. Maybe they can figure it out themselves or talk to their manager, work through it with their team. But I’m not sure about the next few.
Yeah, okay, so 38% said they felt their HR department didn’t enforce company policies equally. That really unnerves me. I hope that that hasn’t happened in that person’s particular company. I hope it’s a misconception. If it isn’t, gosh, we got to clean that up. We got to make sure that all policies are applied equitably, right? But if it isn’t, HR, you’ve gotta get the word out there and build rapport and build trust, because you don’t want people suspicious that you’re playing favorites.
Right. Well, the next one’s even worse, that 35% said they didn’t trust HR to help. Like, ouch.
Again, you wonder, did they have a bad experience, or is their perception that maybe HR can’t help them?
Fair enough. 31% feared retaliation, so they were afraid that if they came forward and talked to HR that maybe something bad would happen to them. That’s very scary.
Yeah. And then 23% said they had witnessed or experienced a poor HR experience. So that one could be valid, but maybe they had a poor experience in one company and haven’t given the new company a chance.
Fair enough. For any of our listeners who are HR professionals, or maybe you’re a business leader who you oversee HR, we really need to help the 30% of our employees who may be doubters to build confidence in us. So building trust starts with building relationships, and then you have the opportunity to demonstrate your value. You know, JoDee, I can remember this particular situation early in my career, I was in charge of Employee Relations at this particular organization. And we decided we were going to do an employee activity and bring everybody and their families into a really nice Saturday at the zoo. We happen to be in Indianapolis, and so the Indianapolis Zoo is just a great venue for any type of activity. So at the time, we probably had…I’m gonna guess about two to 3,000 employees. And I was responsible to figure out with the budget we had, how do we get as many people to come and their family members. So I was working on, like, number of tickets per employee, cost, talking to the caterer, figuring all this out. And I remember, just a couple weeks prior to the event, I was in our operation center, and there was this particular staff member, Sheila. I won’t use Sheila’s last name. And Sheila always tended to be kind of negative. I mean, really. About whatever what we were doing, it just, she always thought there….she was a little cynical, thinking that we were doing it for our good and not hers. So I ran into her. I said, “Sheila, I really hope that you’re coming to the company picnic at the zoo, it’s going to be great, and I I’d love for you to, you know, think about who in your family could make it,” so on and so forth. She said, “Oh, Susan, you know what, if this company is doing it, they want something out of me.” It was just really kind of negative. I said, “Sheila, give us a chance.” So, it so happens that at the zoo the particular day of the event, I ran into her, and she had like 15, 16 of her family members there, I mean…
Oh my gosh.
Yeah. She said they were family, but I’m thinking they might have been neighbors. I mean, who knows, but I didn’t care. I was just so happy she was there and participating. So the very next week, I went back to the operations center for other work. I made a point to go up to where Sheila worked. “Sheila, I was so glad to see you at the picnic. What did you think?” And I was really ready for this transformation. She was going to feel good about employee relations, she’s going to feel good about the organization. She said, “You know, Susan, this organization is never gonna do anything that nice again.” So…
So I realized that no matter what we did, she wasn’t going to be crazy about HR, about employee relations, but can’t win them all over. So my message to those of you who’ve got 30% of your population not feeling good about HR, all you really can do is own your behaviors, the rapport and the relationships you’re trying to build. You’re never going to make everybody happy.
Exactly. I kept waiting for you to say, though, that she, like, fell into the alligator pit or over the fence with the tigers.
I gotta tell you alligators and tigers would not have messed with her. No, they would not have! She would…she could have taken them on. Well, listen, we would love to hear, for any of our listeners, if you’ve ever tackled a particularly skeptical employee or manager and you won them over, please call or text us or tweet us, tell us the story, because we would love to share that, because I think some of us in the HR profession, when we’re dealing with people who just for whatever reason, don’t care for us or our function, we’d love to hear how you win people over. Might help the rest of us.
Absolutely. Bring them on.
Alright, so it’s time for in the news. Broadband News out of the UK did a study recently on the 10 best cities in the world to work remotely in. Given the fact that as we’re recording this, we’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I think that it’s important for us to think about this working remotely, which is growing so dramatically, as a lot of it, we think, is going to continue into the future. So in this study, they looked at 50 large cities across the globe and gave each a remote working index based on a number of factors. Those factors were the average internet speed in that city. When you’re working remotely, it’s really importan you’ve got top notch internet speed, right? Secondly, the number of work from home jobs believed to be in that city. Number three, the average cost of a laptop in that city. Isn’t that interesting? Number four, the city’s cost of living. And then this one cracks me up, but I think it’s important. The last one, the availability of food delivery. I guess if you’re working from home, you’re going to be home, you, yeah. You got to feed the machine. So let’s just share the top 10, JoDee, because I think that’s interesting for any of us who are thinking, gosh, if I’m going to work remotely, do I need to stay in…whatever city you’re in. So why don’t you start us off?
Number one, Bucharest. Who would have thought?
I know. Number two, Houston, Texas. That’s…that would be kind of a fun place to live.
Mm hmm. Number three, Las Vegas.
JoDee, you know what I’d be doing in my off hours. I love gambling, listeners. Number four is Atlanta.
Number five is Budapest.
I know that’s one of the places you want to visit someday, JoDee.
Yeah. Number six, San Francisco.
Gosh, it seems like that would be so expensive. But…
Number seven, Los Angeles.
And number eight is Kiev.
Hmm. Number nine, right here in the Midwest, Chicago.
And number 10 is Warsaw, Poland. Found that very interesting. All right. Well, thank you so much, everyone, for joining. I hope you have a JoyPowered® day.
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