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    Entries in diversity (11)

    Monday
    Jun192017

    Diversity and Inclusivity Starting with the Job Application

    I'm not a user of Snapchat. Mainly because I am an adult, I was never able to figure it out the two or three times my HR Happy Hour partner Trish McFarlane tried to explain it to me, and also because I am an adult.

    While 'maturing' as a platform, (I bet following the same pattern as Facebook, as the parents of the pre-teens, teens, and young adults who were the primary users of the network are 'forced' to sign up in order to keep and eye on what their kids are up to online), Snapchat is still by and large an app/social network predominantly used by people under 34. And this totally fine. I personally don't get it, and I look a little side-eyed when a 46 year old man asks if I 'Snap', but at the same time I totally understand why a 17 year-old would be on Snap all day long. That same 17 year-old would laugh at LinkedIn the same way I scoff at Snapchat.

    I thought about this after reading a piece on Business Insider about McDonald's plans to use Snapchat, in the form of something they call a 'Snaplication' as a launch point in the recruiting process that has a goal of hiring about 250,000 new employees this summer.

    The basic idea is that an interested candidate would log in to Snapchat, find the McDonald's careers 'page' or account or whatever it is you call such a thing on Snapchat, and view a 10-second video from McDonald's employees. The version of the process in Australia also allows candidates to record their own 10 second 'Snaplication' to send to McDonald's. From there, the app allows the candidates (via a swipe) to launch an actual job application process in the app.

    Sounds really cool and innovative, if a little cheeky. But I do applaud McDonald's for pushing the technology and candidate engagement envelope with this initiative. They (probably rightly), see that users of smart phones, (just about everyone), and who also use Snapchat, (probably lots and lots of people from 16 - 30), line up pretty well with their typical or targeted employee profile.

    But what I worried about when I read the story, (and after I stopped rolling my eyes at the concept of a 'Snaplication'), is that this kind of a 'front door' to the recruiting process would almost certainly screen out a pretty significant cohort of potential applicants who don't use Snapchat, would have no clue how to figure out how to send a 'Snaplication', and rather than try and figure it out, would just walk next door to Chick fil-A to apply there. That cohort would be made up of mostly older people, folks like me for example. 

    And if you were surprised to learn that a 'Snaplication' is a thing, you might also be surprised to learn that on average, fast-food workers are getting older too. There are a few different sources of this kind of data, and the numbers are not all consistent, but this example from the BLS suggests that median age of all food service workers is about 30. And I bet if you hit up a McDonald's for your McMuffin and coffee fix this morning you are likely to finds as many 30+ folks working the counter and grill as you are the more typical Snapchatter.

    Now I know that you don't 'have' to use Snapchat to apply for a job at McDonald's, and the traditional methods that older candidates would be more familiar with are still available, but that is not really the point.

    The point is that every decision an organization makes about how it will find, attract, and engage candidates has an impact on the organization in the long run, particularly its diversity and inclusiveness.

    Pushing 'Snaplications' will drive more applicants from a certain, younger demographic, just like working an on-campus recruiting event at the University of Pick Your State will drive more applicants from that particular school's demographic. Running targeted job ads on any website or social network also (by design), shapes, influences, and limits the candidates you are likely to attract.

    None of this is new thinking, smart HR and recruiting folks know this for sure. But I am not sure candidates do. 

    Or said differently, when I read about the 'Snaplication' program, the first thing I thought of was that there's no way I would ever do that. And that is ok I suppose, as I probably would not be applying to McDonald's anyway.

    But I bet there are at least some, maybe quite a few actually, interested and desirable candidates that McDonald's might be turning off with a program like this. And the real lesson is that we all need to be really careful and considerate about how the places, methods, requirements, and technologies that we use in the candidate attraction and application process can have downstream impacts on the organization overall.

    'Snaplications' sound dumb. But they matter. All the choices we make that impact who we bring in to the organization matter.

    Have a great week!

    Monday
    Apr102017

    HRE Column: #HRTech and Diversity and Inclusion

    Once again, I offer my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, I take a look at some of the HR Technology developments that are helping organizations work through the challenges and opportunities of an increased focus on diversity, inclusion, and fairness. Some of this work has been top of mind for me due to the time I am spending on organizing the second Women in HR Technology Summit that will be held at the HR Technology Conference in October. And the continuing focus and spotlight being placed on these issues, especially for tech companies, make this issue and the technologies that can help with it, an incredibly important focus area for HR tech.

    So in this month's HR Executive column I examine a a few of the technologies and trends that are becoming more important in this area, and how these technologies can help inform and shape the design, development, and deployment of programs and initiatives in 2017, and beyond.  

    This is an important issue, that we will be covering in more depth as 2017 progresses, and of course, at HR Tech in October.

    From the HRE piece:

    One of the highlights of last year's HR Technology Conference® and Exposition was our first-ever "Women in HR Technology" summit on the first day of the event. This session was developed to focus on and raise awareness of many of the issues facing women in technology roles generally, and in the HR technology industry more specifically.

    Additionally, we also tried to showcase many of the individual success stories from the many HR and HR technology leaders who participated in the summit, with the idea that their stories of personal and organizational achievement and impact would help educate and inspire the audience. The program was received positively, with standing-room-only attendance, and I have since been acting on numerous recommendations to expand it at this fall's conference.

    Tech firms' ability to attract, recruit, develop and fairly compensate women and other underrepresented groups is an issue that continues to be top of mind for many HR and business leaders. And when there exists a compelling business or workplace need or opportunity, HR technology solutions and services will be developed or be adapted to attempt to meet these needs. Increasingly, a number of HR technology solutions have been created or have been enhanced to deliver functionality and insights to help HR and business leaders attract more diverse candidates, reduce the impact of bias in talent management decision making, and monitor and audit compensation programs and practices for fairness and equity across the organization.

    Let's examine a few of these new and emerging HR technology solutions that help HR and business leaders promote and support the increasingly common and important goals of workplace diversity, inclusion, fairness and equity. We'll also explore how these technologies can help make a difference for organizations working towards meeting these goals.

    Talent Sourcing

    One of the primary reasons cited by organizations for their inability to build more diverse teams -- particularly for technical or engineering functions -- is a lack of qualified candidates at the beginning of the recruiting process. Many organizations say they would love to hire more female engineers or more people from underrepresented groups for these roles, but they simply are not able to find interested and qualified candidates. While there is debate over whether there's truly a so-called "skills mismatch" for these roles that is driving this challenge, there are some HR technology solutions that have been developed to address this "top of the funnel" issue and help HR and business leaders find more diverse candidates.

    Entelo, a past recipient of the "Awesome New Technology for HR" recognition at HR Tech, has a product called Entelo Diversity that allows organizations to find and identify candidates based on gender, race or ethnicity, and even veteran status. This information and these indicators are layered on top of the candidate's skills profile to help organizations see a complete picture of the candidate, which will support diversity recruiting efforts. The Entelo algorithm is designed to help identify candidates who may meet these criteria without relying on specific keywords such as "black," "female," "veteran," etc. Using data about a person's academic history, social affiliations and job titles, the algorithm determines his or her likely gender, ethnicity or race, and whether the person has military experience. Tools such as Entelo Diversity and other advanced candidate-sourcing tools can augment the networks of an organization's recruiters and hiring managers, which may be otherwise lacking members of many underrepresented groups.

    Read the rest at HR Executive Online...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and re-seed you lawn, take your dog for a walk, or help you plant your spring flowers. I especially like alstroemelias.

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday
    Mar282017

    Don't assume everyone knows diversity is an issue at your company

    Pop culture fans probably know the name Aaron Sorkin - Oscar and Emmy award winner of movies/shows like "A Few Good Men", "The Newsroom", and "The West Wing", to name just a few. Sorkin has been a successful Hollywood creative type for years, decades even.  A Few Good Men was written in 1992 for a bit of reference.

    So since at least the release of the movie version of A Few Good Men, (late 1992 and  for which Sorkin wrote the screenplay, and is essential cable TV movie watching to this day), Sorkin has been an important, active, and influential Hollywood person. Around long enough to understand how the movie and TV business works, to know scores of company executives, producers, investors, as well as creatives like himself - other writers, actors, and behind the scene professionals.  

    Around long enough, (and making the assumption that he is not some kind of anti-social savant who only emerges from his office once every two years with his latest script), to be aware of one of Hollywood's most pressing, current, and heavily-discussed industry issues. Namely, the past and ongoing challenges for access, opportunity, and reward that have faced people of color, women of every color, and other less-represented groups. Last year's Oscars brought many of these issues to wider exposure with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and discussion.

    So you would think, or assume, that a Hollywood veteran like Sorkin - experienced, successful, extremely well-known and with a pretty high profile, would have interesting or at least some kind of a view or opinion about Hollywood's ongoing diversity challenges.  You would think he may even have some advice, or a solution to propose. 

    You'd think wrong, apparently.

    According to a report in Variety, and expanded upon in Business Insider,  Sorkin expressed a lack of awareness of the issue, (not a lack of understanding, I am talking simple awareness here), of these issues that was kind of shocking.

    From the Business Insider piece:

    It's really hard to hide from the diversity issue that's plaguing Hollywood, unless apparently you're Aaron Sorkin. 

    The Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of TV shows like "The West Wing" and "The Newsroom" sounded legitimately shocked when the topic came up while he was onstage at the Writers Guild Festival on Saturday, according to a Variety report of the event.

    While Sorkin looked back on his career and talked about issues of the day with moderator Elvis Mitchell, the topic moved to the need for more diversity in writers' rooms for TV shows. It seemed like Sorkin had genuinely never realized it was an issue in the industry.

    “Are you saying that women and minorities have a more difficult time getting their stuff read than white men and you’re also saying that [white men] get to make mediocre movies and can continue on?” he asked the audience, Variety reported.

    While conversation shifted to other topics, Sorkin still couldn't let go of this new insight.

    “You’re saying that if you are a woman or a person of color, you have to hit it out of the park in order to get another chance?” Sorkin reportedly said.

    Kind of amazing, it seems to me, that an industry vet like Sorkin would have been that unaware or indifferent to an issue which as recently as last year, dominated the discussion surrounding the most important industry event and awards show, a show which Sorkin might even have attended himself.

    But let's assume that was indeed the case, and Sorkin's success over the years, and his position as, well, an older white dude, has kept him pretty insulated from Hollywood's diversity discussion. It's not cool, but it is at least plausible. And if we take these quotes from Sorkin at face value, it seems at least mostly true.

    What do we take away from this, i.e., why should it matter to us and our organizations?

    Because the story reminds us that we can never just assume people with experience, who have been successful in their fields, who are perhaps the leaders in our organization, (and who might, possibly, have a little bit of 'Sorkin' in them), actually are cognizant to the potential diversity and inclusion issues in our companies and in industry more broadly.

    There are probably at least some leaders or influential people (say a hiring manager that hires for a large volume of positions), that might be of the mindset, like Sorkin, for whom these issues are just not a part of their experience and not on their radar as they make people and talent decisions.

    Sure, they may have glanced at your gender and diversity reports on hiring or promotions, but did they really interpret these the way you intended? Are you sure they understand the importance of this issue? Really sure?

    From the Sorkin story we are reminded not to assume the most successful people in the organization are aware of an issue that you think is obvious, that everyone has been talking about, and that you have actually taken proactive steps to address.

    It is probably worth checking on. You might end up as surprised at what you learn, just like our pal Aaron.

    Wednesday
    Feb222017

    The Uber HR mess, it probably starts at the pitch meeting

    I don't have a lot more to add to what has been voluminous coverage over the last several days of the recent expose of Uber's (probably) hostile work environment, particularly for the women at Uber. The process of the shocking reveal of what is was really like to work at Uber from a former employee, the wide and far calls of condemnation and Uber boycotts, followed by the quick (and high profile) reactions and vows to 'fix' things from Uber's CEO and their celebrity board member are playing out more or less how you would expect them to.

    Whether or not Uber can, wants to, or will really be able to 'fix' things remains to be seen, and is probably the less important of the things that the rest of us can take away from this mess. It is probably more useful for us to think about how Uber (and others like them), got to this point in the first place.

    Recode has a good piece about how Uber insiders attribute a large portion of the situation at Uber, the ineffectual support and response of internal HR to employee complaints, to the HR culture at Uber of being 90% about recruiting, and 9% about terminations, with the leftover 1% spent doing the necessary admin functions. I made up the percentages, but the idea is clear - Uber was scaling up at a rapid pace, hiring was critical to meeting their business objectives, and it seems likely once people were hired, they were more or less on their own.

    And while the Recode piece makes some great points, and I have no reason to think it is not accurate, I would add one more possible 'cause' to all this mess at Uber, (and the many, many other tech companies that continually struggle with these issues). And it is this - from the earliest stages of the enterprise, the initial presentations and investor pitch decks that the founders use to raise funds, building and supporting diverse teams of people is almost (I can't find one example) never mentioned in these contexts. The 'formula' for raising investments does not include things like a diversity plan or strategies to incorporate talent from underrepresented groups as a key element that will lead to business success.

    It is just never mentioned. What gets mentioned, (and rewarded), are the product ideas, the 'briliance' of the founder, or the reasonable line of sight the investor can assess from the idea to some kind of highly profitable outcome. 

    I did some quick searching this morning for 'Best Pitch Decks Ever' or 'Top Pitch Decks of All Time' and I looked through about 20 of them and did not find one mention of diversity, inclusion, or a stated goal to build a more open, welcoming, fair, or equitable workplace. Note, I am certain this exists somewhere, but I could not find an example right off the bat.

    So back to the question of where to these problems start at places like Uber?

    I think they start from that very first slide deck and from that first presentation where I bet no one talks about these issues.

    Should they be raised at that early point in a company's growth? I will leave that up to the professional investors and founders I guess.

    But having said that, leaving that question up to those two groups has led us to places like Uber.

    Have a great Wednesday!

    Friday
    Feb172017

    CHART OF THE DAY: Report from Startup Land

    I don't like to get too caught up in tracking and detailing the latest trends and moves in HR, Talent, or even workplace technology emanating from Silicon Valley. After all, the vast majority of us do not work in go-go startups, can't really empathize with most startups particular challenges, and the rules of engagement for HR and talent leaders at 30 year-old manufacturing companies with 2,600 employees are naturally, (obviously), different than at a new 12-person 'Uber for XYZ' startup in Palo Alto.

    But on the other hand if you generally believe that innovation in technology, service delivery, and even 'HR' things like benefits, workplace design, and employee experience does often start at 12-person 'Uber for XYZ' startups, as they are unencumbered by size, tradition, understanding of the 'rules', and simply often too busy to worry about HR things and just get to work, then keeping an eye on what is happening in the Valley can be a useful exercise for any HR and talent pro - no matter what size and type of organization you are in.

    One recently published set of snapshots on what is happening in Startup Land comes to us from Silicon Valley Bank in the form of their 2017 Startup Outlook Report (US).  It is a really interesting look at some of the trends, challenges, and points of view from their survey of leaders of 941 global startups, 62% from the US. I want to share three charts from the US portion of the report, with a comment or two for each, then send you on your way for the (long) weekend.

    Chart 1 - The 'War' for Talent

    You'd expect that a majority of startups would report difficulty in finding the people they need to grow their businesses since many of these startups are in technology fields where the tech itself may be new, and the competition for people with these often very hard to find skills is fierce. But 90% plus saying it is challenging or extremely challenging to find talent? I must say that even surprised me. Even though the percentage ticked down a bit, 9 of 10 startup leaders showed up to work today probably worried about finding talented people.

    2. Gender diversity is not improving

    While it probably is not surprising that most startups have mostly male leaders and mostly male boards of directors, what is at least a little surprising, given the increased attention on this issue in the last year, is that surveyed startups are getting more male at the leadership and board levels.  Buried behind this chart is the note that about a quarter of surveyed firms have formal programs in place to increase female representation in leadership roles. But a quick look at the above data suggests that these efforts are not moving the needle at all.

    3. Despite it all, almost all of these startups are hiring

    It is the nature of a startup to grow and hire, so you'd expect these numbers of firms looking to increase headcount in 2017 to be high, but it is pretty encouraging to see that this number has remained consistently high over the last few years. And this is really good news for the kinds of people that these startups are likely to be after - highly skilled, proficient in the latest technology, and able to add value right away. There's a reason why 'Data Scientist' is sometimes called the best job in America today. Although I'd argue that 'Stretch Four' would be better. Non basketball fans, Google that one.

    Lots of other interesting data points in the 2017 Startup Outlook Report - I encourage taking a few minutes to read it through. You might not be an HR pro at a Valley startup, but you just might be competing with some of them for your next Data Scientist.

    Have a great weekend!