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Start with the Little Things

A recent interview with Cheryl Thompson and Jeff Green illuminated several ways in which structural design of how hiring and recruiting are, even if unintentionally, preventing better representation of woman and BIPOC in the workplace. To get the full picture in better detail, listen to the recorded interview here.

But to give you a little flavor of even a few of the small things that could be done to shift those structural barriers, Green shared several ideas that can be implemented without needing to wait for a DEI team or committee to come together and act.
  • Notice the composition of and expand your group of referrers. Companies often utilize the networks of their own employees to find their next employees. This makes a lot of sense because we’re happier when we work with people we like, and referrals are meaningful because you’re getting candidates that already has the stamp of approval from a trusted colleague. However, if we’re only asking for referral from certain levels, like executives or upper management, where there is likely little to no diversity, we’re apt to get mostly or all people who look or are just like those folks. Expand your request for referrals to get better representation among who you’re asking in the first place, and you are much more likely to broaden the pool of candidates coming in the door.
  • Knock down unnecessary barriers to entry. Does the position you’re hiring for ACTUALLY require a 4-year degree? Could a 2-year degree, trade school education, or even high school completion suffice?  Consider what knowledge or education you actually NEED incoming candidates to have and open the requirements that may be artificially stringent simply because it’s become the custom to require a certain degree.
  • Create a willingness and capability to train. If you require specific experience or background (which we know does not guarantee that someone will do the job the way you want them to), you’ll continue to get the same applicants. However, if you’re willing to train those coming into the role (which gives you the chance to shape how they see and do the work), your options broaden significantly and become much more inclusive. Consider elevating intangible skills when hiring, such as curiosity, deep listening, willingness to express new perspectives – skills that are crucial to strong contributors but do not require a 4-year degree.

Author:  Alene Gabriel


Guest Contributor and All Around Good Person. Founder of Blue Sky Coaching.