Recruiting diverse talent: Tips from Amazon, HubSpot and Greenhouse

Building a company that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) doesn't just come from a single team or department like HR, People or Talent Acquisition – it has to be a company-wide effort. That’s why we recently partnered with Hired to present the Recruiting diverse talent: Shifting cultural mindsets and maximizing business ROI webinar.

This panel discussion featured DE&I advocates from different teams, functions and levels within their organizations. Led by Hired’s VP of Marketing Katrina Wong, the webinar gathered Amazon’s Diversity Product Manager Gary Cooper, Greenhouse’s Inclusion Product Strategist Gary Davis and HubSpot’s Team Lead of Global Product Recruiting Ashley Hodder to discuss the theory and practice of recruiting diverse talent.

We’ll be sharing some highlights from the discussion in this post. If you’d like to watch the full on-demand webinar, click here.

Why the DE&I discussion is so important

Research from McKinsey shows that diversity is linked to performance – companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams are 15% more likely to experience above-average profitability, and companies with ethnically and culturally diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to be profitable.

Yet for many companies, employees remain in the dark about DE&I programs and initiatives. According to the Greenhouse Workplace Intelligence Report, more than 45% of staff-level employees either don’t know whether their company has a diversity and inclusion program in place or say they don’t have one in place at all.

This statistic is especially surprising when you consider the fact that back in 2015, 77% of CEOs surveyed by PwC said that they had a formal DE&I strategy or a plan to adopt one in the next 12 months. There’s clearly a disconnect between executive strategy and employee experience, indicating that we still have work to do when it comes to discussing DE&I and communicating our efforts with employees.

It’s not just about putting programs in place, either – a quick audience poll at the beginning of the webinar revealed that 40% of attendees believe their biggest challenge is understanding the impact of DE&I programs.

Defining diversity and creating a DE&I mission statement

What exactly do we mean by the phrase “diverse talent”? Ashley says that at HubSpot, “Diverse talent means asking ourselves, ‘Are we representing our customers, our partners, our community?’ It comes in different forms – it could be skills, perspectives, ages, career paths or abilities (physical or otherwise). Our goal is that our workforce looks like the broad community.”

Gary Davis says that at Greenhouse,

“We’re in the business of making companies great at hiring, so it’s about bringing different perspectives or voices to the table that are often overlooked, under-represented or underestimated.”

When it comes to creating a DE&I mission statement, Gary Cooper says that at Amazon, “It all starts with the customer.” He recommends assessing where you are and then outlining where you want to be. This process involves looking at areas where people currently feel empowered and where there are opportunities for improvement. He recommends pushing people “beyond their comfort zone, but not so far out that they can’t see a way to get there.”

Similarly, at HubSpot, Ashley says the Chief Diversity Officer partnered with the Chief People Officer to look at the makeup of their existing workforce to identify gaps and areas where they’d like to attract and nurture talent. HubSpot also committed to externally publishing a diversity report to hold themselves accountable to their goals.

Putting your mission statement into action

Once you have a mission statement in place, how do you turn it into specific actions? Ashley finds that taking small steps had “an amazing ripple effect.” For example, her team made a few small tweaks to their job descriptions, like removing educational requirements and gendered language. They also included a line encouraging anyone who is interested in a role to apply even if they don’t meet all the requirements, since women and people of color are less likely to apply for a role unless they meet 100% of the requirements.

Leaders at HubSpot also looked for opportunities to be vulnerable and share their stories. For example, HubSpot’s head of UX research and design Libby Maurer published Learning to Cope with Clinical Depression Has Made Me a Better Manager on Fast Company, opening up a dialogue about mental health in the workplace.

Katrina has seen success with removing names, photos and schools from resumes to help democratize the selection process. She says, “It’s about whether you can do the job or not or if you have the skills or not.”

Making small, incremental changes is important, but how can companies think about DE&I for the long term? Gary Davis recommends looking for ways to infuse and integrate DE&I into every spoke of talent management. For example, you can track and measure relative time to promotion across different identities. What does this look like for people who are part of the majority group? Women? People of color?

Gary Cooper recognizes that there’s a duality in this line of work. You have individuals in current structures who need assistance, but when thinking long term, the discussion should center on systems changes. For example, recent research from Deloitte finds that

92% of professionals consider themselves allies in the workplace, but only 29% say that they speak up in the moment when they perceive bias.

How is your company seeking to address these systemic inequalities that perpetuate the status quo and prevent people from speaking up?

Want to hear more from our panelists on how they’re approaching DE&I and measuring their efforts? Tune in to the on-demand webinar here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Diversity & Inclusion