Inclusive hiring: a short primer
As the debate about diversity metrics and quotas rages on, I’d like to share my attempt to find common ground and a path forward.
To do that, let’s start by defining our “north star” first:
A fully inclusive hiring effort is an effort in which we engage and attract all relevant candidates for the role, evaluate them fairly for exactly what the role requires (nothing more, nothing less) and give them a clear picture of what working at our company is like, so they can evaluate the opportunity fairly.
Note that it doesn’t include any references to diversity, identity, minority, etc.
Now we can ask: what gets in the way of this ideal end-state? And the answer: our own “humanity”. Our susceptibility to certain biases in our thinking and actions which eventually manifest themselves as selection bias: either we end up selecting/rejecting candidates, or candidates selecting/rejecting us based on attributes, knowledge or actions that have no impact on their ability to do well in the role that we’re hiring for.
Selection bias tends to creep up across 4 different dimensions of the hiring process. While they may have some overlap between them and are not fully mutually exclusive, discerning between them helps move us forward:
- The way we attract/reach out to candidates
- The way we define what success in the role requires (and doesn’t require)
- The way we conduct the assessment of the candidate’s performance
- The way we evaluate the candidate’s performance in the assessment
With these dimensions in mind, we can now consider specific hiring practices and articulate their impact on helping us create a more inclusive hiring process. While these practices have a compounding impact when used together, they have little dependencies between them and can certainly be used in a more piecemeal or a-la-carte way.
The list below is not comprehensive and I’m continuously adding to it, but I believe it to be a good start: