A few years ago, as CEO I had just hired a new executive and was excited to share my decision with the board.
During the hiring process, this candidate and I had spent many hours talking about the role and the challenges Greenhouse was facing in the marketplace. I’d painted a picture of how they would help us scale into our next phase of growth, and they got it immediately.
Lots of candidates I’d talked to were smart, everyone had energy. But I was not assessing whether someone was interviewing well. My questions, and that of the rest of our interview panel, honed in on skills, capabilities and understanding potential.
We had developed an interview process at Greenhouse that helped us get a real-world sense of how a person’s skills would fit their role within our company. This process gave us a clear and unbiased view of what the person would be able to do in the role, not how good they were at interviewing.
What’s more, the questions we asked helped judge the potential of the candidate as well, and their ability to grow within our organization through all the days of their career.
I was very confident in the hire, and eager to share the news with my board. And here was the first question I got from a board member: “What firms have they worked at?”
He wasn’t kidding. The thing is, because of our strong interviewing and assessment process, I don’t really focus on resumes and background info. We pride ourselves on our ability to develop our own clear, well-informed, and unbiased perspectives on candidates, regardless of their background.
So naturally, I told the board that I actually didn’t remember where the candidate went to school, or the names of all the firms on their resume, that we hadn’t discussed it and it hadn’t been a focus of my decision, the member seemed shocked.
I share this story to highlight the realization that key hiring decisions are still being made in this way in organizations of all types. That the old boys network is still alive and kicking and guiding thought processes at the highest levels. Even at a company like Greenhouse, where we were busy reengineering the way people think about hiring.
My co-founder Jon and I created Greenhouse in 2012 to help companies become great at hiring. We believe that great hiring unlocks the power of human potential at work. Because the right person in the right role can make all the difference – both for that person and for the company.
I share my own story because these are the same obstacles and biases that many executives still face in building a more effective, more inclusive workforce. And these are obstacles we must overcome if progress is going to be made around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).
At Greenhouse, we’ve been working on DE&I solutions since the creation of our company nearly ten years ago. Building more thoughtful and data-driven DE&I practices has been a founding pillar of our organization, and an enduring passion of mine as CEO.
Helping companies reduce bias in their hiring process is integral to unlocking that potential within their people. Only as we remove obstacles to potential – and overcome certain habits of mind and even a sense of complacency within a company – can we start to build true belonging.
Think about what this means for your own company. Belonging means freeing people to be who they are, so they can bring that true self to work in an authentic way. Belonging creates a place where your people can dream big knowing they’re fully supported, and do some of the most meaningful work of their lives.
In working with thousands of customers, we’ve found that when companies are able to build a culture of belonging they can be their most creative and effective. Those organizations prioritize diversity and they perform better, year after year. Their people feel safe, there’s a seat at the table for everyone and each person who knows they belong is therefore able to show up and bring their best abilities to work.
There are those who think of “diversity” as a distraction and would prefer to avoid these issues so they can focus on the mission they truly care about. Others think of it as an unfortunate posture they must pretend to hold so as to avoid being “cancelled.”
I believe neither of those things.
Our commitment to DE&I and building belonging is anchored in a strong set of beliefs about the kind of company we are building at Greenhouse, and the world we want to create. Those beliefs are about embracing people’s differences, valuing every voice, building tools that create more inclusive companies, advocating for the change we want to see and using our platform to amplify the voices of DE&I experts and innovators.
And, fundamentally, I see belonging as perhaps the most powerful tool I have for accomplishing my goals. Because if I can truly hire the best and brightest – not merely those who look, sound and think like me – I can unleash the most powerful force for progress and success on the face of the earth: the power of human potential.