Author Topic: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?  (Read 340 times)

Valmy

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2020, 11:16:18 pm »
Yeah for obvious reasons they tend to be in the South.

If we can hit that bull's-eye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!

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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2020, 02:49:55 am »
So, honest question - I would really like to hear some *practical* ideas. In a STEM world, how do I go about getting more diversity into my applicant pool, so that I can hopefully end up finding highly qualified talent that better reflects a company that actually values diversity - at least, that is what we tell ourselves?
there ain't many solutions, because you are at the end of the food chain.  Who you will get to apply is determined at birth, by geography, and geography seems to be mostly determined by color in your country, from what I've read.

Blacks will often be segregated out of the best schools, will have an higher rate of school drop out and when they reach college it will often be public colleges and this don't seem to me like the best path to a promising carreer and since you want the best candidates, it will most likely require some practical experience in the same job you want them to accomplish.

The easiest part will be to attract women.  For that, to put it simply, you need more women so the climate change.  I've read real stories of the difficulties women face on construction (butt/breast grabbing, pointing at the breast saying "I want milk" and laughing :roll: ; discriminated on the jobs they are given, constantly sexually harrassed by a foreman, fired when they complain and have zero support from their union, etc). 

The reality will obviously be different in a white collar company, but you still got to be careful about small gestures that could intimidate women when they work with men.  Like that guy in the office who likes to brag about his sexual conquests, or those looking at scandily clad women's pictures on their computers, or simply having a macho attitude, dismissing an idea because it comes from the latest recruit and it happens to be a woman: she will perceive that as being discriminated for her sex.  When you reject their ideas, you have to explain your reasoning for saying no.  While with a man it's appreciated to be told tings like that, we won't perceive it as being rejected strictly for our sex.

I grew up on construction sites, surrounded my grown up men who liked to brag about lots of things.  But whenever my mom was in the company's trailer during break time, they were much, much, much more reserved. Again, obvious difference here in time&space, but it gives you an idea of what happens when there is one woman in the room.  Multiply that by 10 and you get a better work climate for everyone.

It might not be a problem in english, but the vocabulary chosen in your employment offer can have an influence.  Men don't usually concern themselves with that, but if I am a woman who's been passed at promotions time&again for men not as competent as I was, any kind of perceived bias in the language might make me think this company is just like any other.  Look at your past employment offers, look who applied, and ask yourself why a black person might not bother wasting its time with this offer.  Job offers must be short, and to the point.  Although we do often want to "over-ask" as to avoid spam resumes, we tend to eliminate shyer candidates this way.  Half a page is enough.

Talk to your existing team members to precisely define the kind of candidate they want to work with, and try to redact the offer accordingly (easier said than done!), not specifically with what you have in mind.  Talk to your former employee on why she left ("unemployment interview" I think... I read my HR stuff in French, contrary to economics and finance), was it only wage related?  Did she perceive she was stalling where she was? Did she have a problem with someone?

Diversify your sources of recruitment.  Talk to your other teams, ask for their input, ask if they know of any professionnal associations cathering to women/blacks/migrants/etc in their field, then contact them and ask for their help is distributing your job offers (they often have specific boards for that).

Interns.  It's a pain in the ass to form someone and risk losing them when they finally developp.  But it's a risk you'll have to take.  You ideal candidate has 5 years of experience with software X, professional title Y, experience working in a group environment.... But, maybe you can find someone who does not have all that but who wil be better two years down the road.  I don't have a CPA, so I'm not taken seriously by big corporations.  But I know that for many companies, I'd be better than any given CPA for the job they are offering, because I know I already am by comparing myself with the clueless ones I meet. 

So, invest in training.  If you don't have the budget, try to get them.  Company owners are often reluctant in doing that, because it is time consuming.  And an employee on training is not 100% productive.  And we tend to look at schools and consider (kinda rightly so) that it's their job to train the people we need.  But various factors can enter into account, family situation might have prevented someone from completing school in the normal course and completing his/her degree in the usual number years, or attending an out of town college, or pursuing higher studies when you think the job requires them.

You can not substitute an entire degree by your on site training, but you can complement any lack of experience.  See it that way: you get to train the person the way you want him/her to work, not the way someone else thought it should be done.  this way, you might get a woman or a black person often rejected because they don't have the right contacts, because they didn't attend the right schools, because they never were offered and identical job, etc, etc.  They are obviously paid less than a fully trained operative, and you will quickly see how good they are at learning, so you will still have the option of not offering them a "full" position at the end of their term.

You can talk to your local colleges&universities about setting up work term. My cousin began working for one of our client&supplier while he was still in technical college, for his mandatory work term, than got to work through summers and university though his other work terms there and after his graduation, until he decided to move out of town.  Had his boss opted for a fully trained graduate like his superiors wanted at first, he would have missed an opportunity to work with an highly dedicated programmer.  What he lacked in technical skills he made in his willingless to keep learning.

Flexibility is highly sought for many people and often quite lacking in bigger corporations, and especially in the US, I think?  It is also often very difficult to implement when people need to work constantly in teams.  But, if you can accomodate a worker who does not celebrate Christmas by letting her/him work during this time and instead taking a week off later, it can be appreciated.  For women with young children, having the possibility to work from home when the kids are sick will be appreciated, as well as the possibility to start earlier and finish earlier, or even compress the work week if possible or in last resort work less hours during the week.  Ofter the possibility to accumulate overtime and use the extra time as extra vacation days.

Freedom expression means freedom of expression.  Your employees should always feel free to talk to you about something bothering them, a noisy coworker, a company policy, a specific demand (ex: taking part of a day off and finishing later), etc,etc.  Sometimes employees are just being difficult, or simply have serious mental health issues, but other times, they have legitimate complaints/criticism.  It's hard to convey this feeling without appearing to favour one group over another, so you have to take care of not alienating your non "diversity group".

To avoid the bias of only recruiting females (for the office work I had to do, 95% of candidates were women), and to avoid the criticism that I was selecting them on their looks (I didn't, but it was often perceived that way since I'm a guy recruiting women :roll: ), I often let the departing employees make a pre-selection of the resumes and had her explain to me why she wanted me to interview this candidate and not this candidate.

A variant would be to have your assistant give you "blind" resumes, with no names attached to make sure you are involuntarily selecting white males since its often easier to identify with your own group.  Apparently, when we're reading resumes, we're all closet mysoginists and racists.  :roll:  I don't believe it has any use, but it's all the rage now.

You could make a first interview via e-mail, or via a specialized recruitment tool/site.  You submit your question and the candidate answers sorta anonymously.  This is beyond my level, but it's something I've been told by a former employee now working HR at the local hospital; apparently, it makes diversity candidates feel more confidant.  Also, some specialized HR tools will let you filter resumes for specific keywords you want, this can help make sure you don't overlook one candidate or another when you have many job applicants.

Lastly: don't fucking bother with HR, hire someone else to do it :P

No, seriously, for some positions a headhunter could be worth it. Obviously not for a work intern, but if you need someone with a very specific skillset right now, it can be a valid, albeit costly option.
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2020, 02:59:41 am »
Be fair and higher the best qualified applicants.

Yeah, that is the thing though - "best qualified" is a rather nebulous term.

In general, I think that is what we try to do though. However, like I said, we get most of our junior level applicants from the local universities. And doing that, has resulted in a team that has, literally, zero diversity.

What I want is to maintain the level of quality, but actually get some different groups in - I think that has value itself, hence the "best qualified" candidate may in fact be one who is best able to take us where we want to go in regards to being able to hire the NEXT best candidate, and retain our best candidates, and create the dynamic, diverse culture that we think will lead us to the greatest success.

It is not as simple as just "be fair, hire the most qualified".
Also, geographically speaking, if there aren't many women or non "whites" in your geographical area, in your field, you're going to have a problem recruiting them to work in your company, obviously, and you shouldn't but your head about it too much, if that is the case.

Construction companies are sorta pushed to hire women to increase diversity, but there ain't a ton of them to begin with, they tend to work in cities where they are most likely to work with other women and they tend to not do the most physical work, for obvious biological reasons, so not all companies can hire women even if they want to.  Attaining parity as some have suggested is a fallacy.  There are a lot more women working as nurses, doctors and teachers than men, and the general population is about 51% male -49% female.

But you could try to widen the net, so to speak.  Try expanding your offers toward out of State universities&organizations and offer to pay the moving costs of the selected candidate, and/or help settle down.


PS: speaking of non native english speaker, you aren't searching for a controller, financial director, accountant, financial analyst, by any chance?  Asking for a friend... :P
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Tyr

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2020, 03:12:45 am »
Don't do what a senior manager of mine once did and make a really awkward speech encouraging people to go and tick a box on the HR system declaring if they are gay, and if they don't feel comfortable doing that come and speak to him about it.

I'd say to not be afraid to look beyond university graduates. Especially in the US I would imagine the link between having a degree and being good at your job, especially in a field like coding where universities do nothing more than give out bits of paper, is low. I've ran into some great programmers who never went to university.
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2020, 03:19:12 am »
One last thing:

If your company offers perks like season tickets to minor league football, or baseball, maybe review the policy to include other sports (if there are any) that maybe more attractive to non white males.

Younger women here (20s-30s) tend to be more of football&hockey fans than women my age, but they are still a minority within their ranks.  I do not know the demographics of the crowds for each US sports, so I can't judge, but you could maybe try to find some other perks, within your means, that appeal to a wider audience.

I've talked before of work-from-home, and now, suddenly, it's all the rage (as of 5 years ago, it was still regarded as failure in management and large companies were moving away from it), but this could be interesting if you recruit candidates that originally come from out of State.  Maybe they want to spend an extra day or two with their relatives at Thanksgiving and they can do their work from there.  My step-sis often does that and comes to work from my office when her nephews&nieces are at my dad's place, it let her extends her vacation, and avoid going to the office for a day or two and either spending the rest of the holydays alone home or missing paying work.  And one of my cousin was just telling me today that is what she'll be doing next week, working from her father's house while her boyfriend and the kids enjoy some vacation time.  She combines the best of both world this way.

Older workers who can afford a cottage out of town will appreciate having an appartment close to work and a place out of the city, away from the noise, from where they can work half the week.  This could certainly help with general retention.  Not everyone is a 20somethings who likes partying on the weekend (I've suddenly realized that...-sigh)
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2020, 03:27:16 am »
Don't do what a senior manager of mine once did and make a really awkward speech encouraging people to go and tick a box on the HR system declaring if they are gay, and if they don't feel comfortable doing that come and speak to him about it.
yeah, it's a sure way to make someone integrate in the group: "If you're a black tranny, please come forward".


Now, seriously, I forgot about sexual orientation and gender issues (thanks Tyr) diversity might also include transgenders, and that migt be the trickiest part.  Lots of people will react adversely to such individuals, when it's obvious, and not just the ultra-religious conservatives, but quite often very liberal people who won't have any problems with gays&lesbians.  You'll have to be prepared to deal with that if&when it happens.

Like Oex said, try to hire for more than one job at a time so you maximize your chances of hiring "diversity" candidates.
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HisMajestyBOB

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2020, 09:40:40 am »
Like Viper said, interns could be a good option (if it fits your company), especially if you have more than one or two. Most of our interns are hired to be junior analysts and help shape the junior staff culture.

Do you sponsor work visas? We have quite a few employees straight out of undergrad who are citizens of non-US countries and need visas. That's been a good source of both diversity and talent.
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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2020, 06:24:17 pm »
I think step one is too stop waiting for candidates to come to you. If you offer great pay and conditions, you are acostomed to having not to do much work to find employees.

My work offers bad pay & alright conditions.
 We're very diversified because we have to go & find employees, they don't come to us.

Except for women, women in programming are usually very good & not attracted to work for us.

huh. That is a very interesting point, cannot say I've thought of that - I think we are pretty attractive, we pay well, its a kinda cool place to work, we have good bennies and such. So you are right, we *don't* have to really go out of our way to find candidates.

Lots of good ideas here....thanks everyone.
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Berkut

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2020, 06:33:10 pm »
Be fair and higher the best qualified applicants.

Yeah, that is the thing though - "best qualified" is a rather nebulous term.

In general, I think that is what we try to do though. However, like I said, we get most of our junior level applicants from the local universities. And doing that, has resulted in a team that has, literally, zero diversity.

What I want is to maintain the level of quality, but actually get some different groups in - I think that has value itself, hence the "best qualified" candidate may in fact be one who is best able to take us where we want to go in regards to being able to hire the NEXT best candidate, and retain our best candidates, and create the dynamic, diverse culture that we think will lead us to the greatest success.

It is not as simple as just "be fair, hire the most qualified".
Also, geographically speaking, if there aren't many women or non "whites" in your geographical area, in your field, you're going to have a problem recruiting them to work in your company, obviously, and you shouldn't but your head about it too much, if that is the case.

Construction companies are sorta pushed to hire women to increase diversity, but there ain't a ton of them to begin with, they tend to work in cities where they are most likely to work with other women and they tend to not do the most physical work, for obvious biological reasons, so not all companies can hire women even if they want to.  Attaining parity as some have suggested is a fallacy.  There are a lot more women working as nurses, doctors and teachers than men, and the general population is about 51% male -49% female.

But you could try to widen the net, so to speak.  Try expanding your offers toward out of State universities&organizations and offer to pay the moving costs of the selected candidate, and/or help settle down.


PS: speaking of non native english speaker, you aren't searching for a controller, financial director, accountant, financial analyst, by any chance?  Asking for a friend... :P

LOL. We actually are looking for more people in some of those areas.

The company is in a weird place. We aren't that big, but we are growing. Oddly, enough, we just got smaller, because we split off the part of the company I work from from the part of the company that does more legacy, old system support. So while our team is exactly the same the company is "new" in a sense.

So we have the operations side very strong - since all three of the "executive" types are all operatioanal with lots of experience there. We have one office manager person, but she is actually shared with the other company, and will only be with us through the end of the year.

The owner, who is a friend of mine, handles pretty much all the sales and account level management. I handle the development, and my peer is in charge of professional services.

We have no accounting. We have no financials officer or even admin. No HR. No IT.

We are trying to figure a lot of that out - the problem is that we don't need a full time person for any of those jobs, at least no yet. We need a combo office manager, bookkeeper/accountant/CFO.
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Berkut

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2020, 06:38:02 pm »
Don't do what a senior manager of mine once did and make a really awkward speech encouraging people to go and tick a box on the HR system declaring if they are gay, and if they don't feel comfortable doing that come and speak to him about it.

I'd say to not be afraid to look beyond university graduates. Especially in the US I would imagine the link between having a degree and being good at your job, especially in a field like coding where universities do nothing more than give out bits of paper, is low. I've ran into some great programmers who never went to university.

No question. There are a lot of really great developers out there without degrees.

Our struggle is that we are consultants in a very niche market (small to medium sized equipment financing) where knowing the market is critical. But we have a very specific technology stack (mostly Salesforce/Apex). So finding people with industry experience is very, very hard. Finding GOOD people with Salesforce experience is not as hard, but the good people are generally established and very, very expensive. Finding good people with industry experience? Basically not possible, or so rare that we cannot scale that way.

So we are kind of figuring that if we cannot find them, we will build them ourselves. Take young, ambitious, bright tech people out of college, and get them the industry experience ourselves. That takes...a long time. And I am worried that we are going to find that the moment we take them, teach them, and get them understanding both the technology and this industry, we are going to lose plenty of them.

Anwyay, it is certainly interesting.
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Berkut

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #25 on: July 05, 2020, 06:39:58 pm »
Like Viper said, interns could be a good option (if it fits your company), especially if you have more than one or two. Most of our interns are hired to be junior analysts and help shape the junior staff culture.

Do you sponsor work visas? We have quite a few employees straight out of undergrad who are citizens of non-US countries and need visas. That's been a good source of both diversity and talent.

We generally do not, mostly because

A) We haven't had to, and
B) We don't have anything like the expertise to do so. It seems like there are always lawyers and such involved.
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #26 on: July 05, 2020, 07:19:22 pm »
We are trying to figure a lot of that out - the problem is that we don't need a full time person for any of those jobs, at least no yet. We need a combo office manager, bookkeeper/accountant/CFO.
finding this combo will be hard, you practically need to groom them from a young age.  Most people who study for accounting or finance want to do accounting or finance and don't relish the idea of doing bookkeeping, or you find someone who's excellent at bookkeeping but isn't that good when it comes to preparing financial statements alone, or evaluating new investment projects or negotiating loans.

And CFOs tend to want to work in bigger companies where they'll get more specialized work to do.

My advice:
Find yourself an excellent bookkeeper first.  Have your friend train her so the books are kept the way he wants them to be, so he has the info that is relevent to him and fiscal/regulating industries.

Outsource the "heavier" accounting stuff to an accounting firm.  It will likely cost as much as hiring someone full time to do part-time work, but you don't risk seeing that person leaving the company after 2 years because he/she's bored with not having a full work week (or isn't paid for a full work week all year long).

Once the company has grown enough, or your boss has a diversified portfolio of business investments, you can think of hiring yourself a CFO.

As for office management, that will likely be the next job post your company will have to fill.  Unless you think your current higher management colleagues can handle the work with you on top of their usual workload, for now.

The temptation to grow quickly and higher lots of staff to manage everything is, well tempting (duh).  But it has to be done carefully, because it becomes fixed costs, not easily flexible.  Right now you're growing, but the situation could change quickly in one year and be forced to stall your growth.  Growing too fast often brings liquidity problems. 

The company is profitable, but you have way too much expenses to incur before your clients pays the company.

When you outsource the accounting, it brings a certain flexibility and that is gold for smaller companies still growing up.
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #27 on: July 05, 2020, 07:32:30 pm »
And I am worried that we are going to find that the moment we take them, teach them, and get them understanding both the technology and this industry, we are going to lose plenty of them.

That's a given.  You won't be able to compete with bigger, well established firms when it comes to wages and incentive packages.

Try to rely on what differentiates you from bigger corporations and try to emphazie it in your communications, verbal and non verbal.
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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #28 on: July 05, 2020, 07:43:45 pm »
And I am worried that we are going to find that the moment we take them, teach them, and get them understanding both the technology and this industry, we are going to lose plenty of them.

That's a given.  You won't be able to compete with bigger, well established firms when it comes to wages and incentive packages.

Try to rely on what differentiates you from bigger corporations and try to emphazie it in your communications, verbal and non verbal.

Oh, I get it.

When we lost one of our best devs, the afore mentioned young woman who was only with us about a year, but was amazing....my boss was all in crisis mode. "What could we have done different? What went wrong? Should we have paid her more?" She left about 6 weeks after I gave here a 35% raise.

Shrug. I liked her a lot, we got along great, and had a great exit interview. She left because she wanted to do different things, a broader exposure to a harder and more industry relevant technology stack than we provided. Whaddya gonna do?

So he pivots to "OK, well we have to hire better so we don't hire people and invest in them for 18 months just so they leave! How could we have better understood her goals when we interviewed her so we could have gotten someone almost as good who would be willing to stay longer????"

I was like. "Dude. We are hiring 20something kids fresh out of college. There is no way we can figure out what they are going to want in a year, because THEY don't know what they are going to want in a year!"

It's just part of doing business in this manner. If we want to hire people right out of college, we have to accept that a decent percentage are not going to stay long. They are going to realize they want something more hard core, or more interesting, or they are going to get married and move away, or just decide that it is too damn cold in Minneapolis or want to go backpack in Australia, or join a cult or god knows what. They are young, young adults! Stability is not their thing!
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viper37

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Re: So.....how do I go about getting a more diverse team?
« Reply #29 on: July 05, 2020, 11:50:58 pm »
They are young, young adults! Stability is not their thing!
yeah, it's sad.  For employers, at least.
On average, I had a new assistant every year.  Sometimes, 1 for 3 years, sometimes, 3 in one year.  You try to give them more responsibilities, they break under pressure.  Don't give enough and they want a bigger challenge.

I suck at HR.  And I generally distrust HR&management consultants that seem to come up with some new catchy song every decade.

Well, you already know you have to hire recent college graduate and those who have yet to complete their studies.  Nearly no one stays put for 50 years now.  Ain't much more to do in this regard, and I doubt shelling 20 000$ for an HR mandate to evaluate your recruiting practice would yeild anything different than what you already know :)

Good luck with the diversity recruitment :)
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