SGO Podcast Season 2 Episode 5: Building Teams

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We often say that hiring and recruiting is the gateway to doing further deeper DEI work. There are so many tangible, actionable lists and checklists and steps that people can take, and it can be a great place for organizations that are new to this work to get started. This week we're talking to recruiters and organizational leaders about how they work to reduce bias in hiring, the challenges they face in recruiting and the importance of onboarding.

Contributors to this episode are:

Welcome to She+ Geeks Out, the podcast bringing you the voices of women+ from all walks of life to share with you what they geek out about-- their passions, talents, struggles, and successes. In each episode, hosts Rachel Murray and Felicia Jadczak will feature different guests and discussions about topics including health, psychology, art, music, learning, and more. Episodes are fun, engaging, and provide some nuggets of information that you can take away. Oh, and yeah, they might be awkward sometimes. That's just how we roll.

This season of She+ Geeks Out is unlike any other so far. Together, we will be unpacking what the future of work looks like for different groups of people in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to our special guests, listeners will also get to hear snippets from our facilitation team on what DEI really looks like in the workplace from a practical, actionable standpoint. 

We often say that hiring and recruiting is the gateway to doing further deeply rooted DEI work. There are so many tangible, actionable checklists and steps people can take as a great place for organizations new to this work to get going. This week, we hear from organizational leaders and recruiters about how they work to reduce biases in hiring, the challenges they face in recruiting and the importance of onboarding. 

The episode begins with an explanation of inclusive hiring. Looking at our overall hiring process, organizations should ask themselves whether each step along the way is inclusive. Being inclusive means sourcing from a wide range of different spaces in order to get in different demographics and access different types of communities. Organizations tend to look at just a handful of places, forgetting about the rest of them. Another way to exercise inclusivity is in your job descriptions. Are you using inclusive language, including any statement around your DEI work, including salary ranges and effective wording? When conducting interviews, the candidate is also interviewing the organization to make sure they are a representative they want to work with. Thus, interviews should be made accessible for everybody. 

Ginny Cheng, Career Clarity Coach and Global Head of Talent at Oura Ring, shares that committing to inclusivity means to enlist these values in how they interview, find passive talent, move beyond just referral programs and being a supporter and partner with organizations that are already doing great work. As a coach and head of recruiting, Ginny reveals that onboarding takes a village. As far as older folks or people returning to work, the responsibility of the company is to normalize gaps in resumes for whatever reason. We also hear from Reem Reem Papageorgiou, Co-Founder and Chief Talent Officer at MomUp, about the unconscious bias towards mothers in the workforce. Then, SG facilitator Rachel Sadler identifies some green flags for applicants to look out for. These include flexibility, benefit packages inclusive of all types, low employee turnover rates, generous PTO and mission aligned with action. SCO Facilitator Kia Rivera discusses how bases can show up in the workplace. 

We also hear from Elba Lizardi , Site Director at BASF, about the policies and processes they put in place to mitigate biases in their hiring practices. Firstly, they require a diverse panel and a diverse slate. Diverse hiring practices have been embedded within the company culture . Next, Elisa Campos-Prato shares her experiences as a recruiter. When she first started to create a more inclusive process, she experienced the roadblocks and push backs with other organizations in high growth mode. It will take longer to find candidates that fit the DEI bill, and Scott’s Cheap Flights was totally on board with this.  If a candidate is not offered a job on their first interview, it is their hope that they would feel comfortable to try again in the future. It is important to look at a candidate as a person, rather than a number. 

Amai Arruabarrena, Director of DEI at ezCater, joins to discuss allowing current employees to stretch and grow into new roles and opportunities. In her own experience, the more she was given the space to grow and take more things on, the more the company benefited from that. A responsibility of a good manager is doing what they can to support their employees on what they actually want to do in order to avoid stagnation and turnover. CA Webb, Former President of Kendall Square Association,  and Jason Fooks, Senior Director of Learning and Development at Essex Property & Trust, talk about growing their teams. Earning on the job, they find, has been the best retention strategy across the board. 

Finally,  Karina Becerra, Director of Customer Advocacy at Podium, joins to share about their onboarding process after recruitment. The lens of DEI is one she considers every single day, and she finds it important to meet her remote employees where they are while onboarding. They aim to make the content fun and interactive to capture the new employees attention on the things they hope they can accomplish at work. 


Ginny Cheng (00:01):
Normalize, let's say gap in resumes or people taking time away from work however long it may be.

Reem Papageorgiou (00:09):
It's interesting because we know that moms are rock stars, but in the workforce there's often this kind of unconscious bias about are they going to be as committed? Are they going to have another baby? And we're going to have to plan for maternity leave?

Kia Rivera (00:27):
Especially in the world of Covid is looking at people's backgrounds. Not everyone is in a space where they can have their own office and their own space. So I've heard people say, "Well, if someone's bed is in the background, I'm not going to hire them." That's bias right there.

Amaia Arrubarrena (00:42):
"You're so good in this position, you make my life easier. As a manager, you make it more easier having this position. I don't want you to go anywhere." And then they miss that they're still going to leave. Because people can only be pets in this place of being stagnant for so long.

Felicia Jadczak (01:05):
Hi everybody, I'm Felicia.

Rachel Murray (01:06):
And I'm Rachel. And welcome to the SGO podcast, the She Geeks Out podcast.

Felicia Jadczak (01:11):
This season is unlike any that we put out so far. What does the future of work look like when we're thinking about diversity and inclusivity and equity and what does it look like for different groups of people?

Rachel Murray (01:21):
We got to interview so many incredible people.

Felicia Jadczak (01:23):
You'll also be hearing some little snippets and interjections from our facilitation team.

Rachel Murray (01:28):
You'll get their perspectives on what DEI really looks like in the workplace from a practical, actionable standpoint. So let's go.

Felicia Jadczak (01:39):
We often say that hiring and recruiting is the gateway to doing further deeper DEI work. There are so many tangible, actionable lists and checklists and steps that people can take, and it can be a really great place for organizations that are new to this work to really get going. This week we're talking to recruiters and organizational leaders about how they work to reduce bias in hiring, the challenges they face in recruiting and the importance of onboarding.

Felicia Jadczak (02:12):
Inclusive hiring to me is something where it's made up of a lot of different things. So there's your hiring process in general, and you can look at your process and all the different steps along the way and think about is this process inclusive? What I mean by that is typically in my mind, a hiring process looks something like the following. So you start off with a job description or an open rec, you put that out there somewhere. You are sourcing folks to apply from different places and spaces. You're getting some resumes in, you're reviewing them, and at some point you move into interviewing, whether that's a graduated step where you start with a phone interview and then an in person or a video interview, or if that gets condensed in some way and ultimately you go and you hire somebody at the end of this process.

Felicia Jadczak (02:57):
Now this process will look a little bit differently organization to organization, but you can think about each step along the way is that step being conducted in as inclusive a manner as possible. So for example, when you're sourcing, you could be thinking about are we sourcing from a wide range of different places and spaces in order to get in different demographics in order to access different types of communities? Or are we sourcing from a narrow group of platforms or places just because that's what we're used to and that's what we've always done.

Felicia Jadczak (03:30):
There are tons and tons of different platforms out there that can really allow you to source from all different kinds of demographics. And so depending on your industry, depending on what kinds of groups you want to really highlight and support and bring into an organization, you can get really specific. But typically what I see is that a lot of organizations tend to look at just a handful of places. Whether it's employee referrals or it's, maybe it's a set list of schools if they're doing undergrad recruiting or new grad, new entry recruiting. And then you're not really thinking about all the other possibilities that are out there.

Felicia Jadczak (04:10):
So that's one example of how you can think about inclusivity in that hiring process. Another example is looking at your job descriptions and thinking, are you using inclusive language? Are you including any statements around your DEI work or your efforts within that job description? Are you including salary ranges, which not everyone does still? Making sure that you're not wasting a candidate's time and they're not wasting yours. You can be also thinking about what is the wording that you're using to make sure that you're not unintentionally selecting out people who could be really good candidates for you. So there's a lot of ways to think about it from that process standpoint. The other thing I like to think about when I talk about inclusive hiring is you also want to be really thinking about the experience because when someone is hiring for a role, it's actually a two-way street.

Felicia Jadczak (05:04):
It's not just about an organization or a hiring manager or a recruiter hiring in someone. They're also interviewing you as a candidate because you want to make sure that you're presenting your organization in the best way possible, but also in the most transparent and accurate way possible. So inclusive hiring can look like making sure that your interview practices are accessible. If you're doing video hiring, do you include closed captions or subtitles if folks might be hard of hearing? If you are having folks talk with people, are you making sure that you're adjusting for time zones and languages? Are you thinking about what the spaces look like? So for example, some folks are sharing a Zoom background with all of their potential candidates before they get into a video call. Because they don't want any unintentional biases based off of what the candidate's background or their home space might look like.

Felicia Jadczak (06:06):
And so that way it's an equitable process for all of the candidates no matter who they are or where they're dialing in from. So basically, really just thinking about what is the way that we do hiring? Who's involved in each step along the way, and what does each step, what does that experience look and feel like? And in each step along the way, there are going to be things that you can think about using that lens of inclusivity in order to make sure that we are creating a process and an experience that is as open, transparent, easy, feel good as possible. And we're not unintentionally or intentionally excluding anyone because the goal of hiring is to cast a really wide net. And then each step along the way, we narrow down until you get to a really high quality candidate who works for you. Let's talk to Ginny Cheng, Career Clarity coach and Global Head of Talent at OURA Ring.

Ginny Cheng (07:02):
I do think the foundational things for a company would be when they do commit to this, it means starting to enlist those values in how they interview, how they find passive talent. How they move beyond just referral programs. If your current population isn't diverse. And being a supporter and partner with organizations that are already doing great work, like your organization. If they want to make that connection, it's going to feel more authentic because you have already built that relationship with your community long term and not because it's company specific.

Felicia Jadczak (07:38):
Yeah, I love that. And it's interesting because I do think that as more and more companies and organizations are talking and thinking and trying to really incorporate diversity inclusion, equity justice into values, their mission, their approaches or policies. It's not a bad thing necessarily, but sometimes, especially at a corporate level, it can start to feel a little bit similar. Because there's only so many ways you can say that you support these things in a unique way, company to company or even industry to industry. And what we know is that a lot of the overall culture and experience when it comes to this, these sort of topics does actually come back to individuals and the day to day type of interactions.

Felicia Jadczak (08:25):
And so given your role not only as a coach but also as head of recruiting, I'm really curious how that plays out for you in terms of what you get involved with because you're obviously, I'm assuming, really involved with a candidate as they go through the process. And then does that extend once they join the organization, as in your role, have any involvement with that? Is there any thought process around that bridge? Just curious around your sort of experience and thoughts around that.

Ginny Cheng (08:54):
I'm going to start with it takes a village and then part of it is it's really about a handoff process as well. It's true that with recruiting, our focus is on talent attraction, but we also don't want to be the one to share things that are not true about a company. So I'm pretty open for any company I've been at is where the strengths are, where the opportunities are, just like you would do in any performance evaluation for an individual. I would say oftentimes I will have information that are just to give people more of an understanding. Especially if you are applying for a company that maybe their product, maybe it's a startup, maybe it's like OURA Ring. But because there's not as deep concentration of what's it like to work for a culture, you're not always get that information. So I guess what I would say is it really depends and it depends a little bit on your intellectual curiosity, but also how much the company is willing to share.

Ginny Cheng (09:59):
And each team's going to be different. But I do think it is the recruiter's job of those messaging. Now once they're through the process candidate experience, that's definitely takes a village because it is in let's say recruiting, making the final decision. But it is recruiting have the ability to keep our candidates informed once they are in the process, in the interviewing process. And then once they onboard, I would find many candidates still reach out to recruiting because it's not necessarily really clear when that handoff office or they just like a familiar partner.

Ginny Cheng (10:39):
But that for my onboarding, it was pretty clear they used tools and platforms that let me know exactly what I would need my first week, who are my contacts, what are Slacks I should join? So all of these things can ease it. Now in my case, they did also mention to me during my onboarding all the different Slack channels that are part of the culture of a company if women's health groups, because that's our focus at Aura. So I do think it's going to be, it's somewhat customized, but I do think in order to scale certain systems and platforms needs to be in place in order to get the foundational that everybody gets the equal sort of onboarding experience and then everything else is icing on the cake.

Rachel Murray (11:27):
I love that. And relatedly, it reminded me of something that we see is that there can be sometimes a disconnect and priorities and goals between the recruiting team and hiring managers. And I'm wondering if you've experienced that or if you're like, "This doesn't make any sense, everybody's always in alignment." But if not, I would love to hear some of the challenges that maybe how you view ways to overcome them.

Ginny Cheng (11:51):
Two key words pop up to me, which is ruthless, reprioritization is one of them. And the other is really empathy of where the business needs are and where the recruiting challenges are. I think as long as we get to those two conversations, the alignment may not always be there. The urgency to hire someone and hire in a very competitive market, you can understand it, but it may not still work as fast as you like. But I think the key part is the understanding or if your company or decide that there are certain metrics about diversity conversations. We just have to make sure all the stakeholders understand that that is the case and there's going to be a balance to all of it. So I think that's how I would approach it.

Ginny Cheng (12:42):
Again, each company's different. Many leaders come from other companies, so there might be already preferred partnership things that we have to relearn, get to know each other depending on the growth of the company. And at the end of the day, when I say prioritization, I do mean coming to a consensus that if everyone thinks their roles are important, I mean someone still have to be the decision maker. And usually it should not fall on the recruiting. People don't always get the complete business roadmap or trajectory to make those hard calls.

Rachel Murray (13:17):
Totally. And just to follow up on that too, an example is, and this is just really very generic, it's like I'm the hiring manager. My friend Bob needs a job. He's great and I got a need and I just want to make it very practical for people when I'm talking about this sort of maybe misalignment and goals. It's like then that is how bias can certainly creep up and the recruiting team is like, "Hey, we have all of these things and we should probably follow out."

Ginny Cheng (13:51):
Yeah, those definitely happen. Everybody has a nephew or an uncle, but I think that's also part of networking too. Networking does include being family members and people in industry. There's nothing wrong with that. I think the situation gets tricky when you want to skip a certain process, for example, well this person's perfect, I don't want to interview with other people. So it's really more about the intention versus opportunity. I do think if Bob is indeed a great talent, there's no reason why we should ignore that fact because it may be a referral and it may be true. But the honest conversation, the alignment should be, we haven't explored enough talent or why don't we have a conversation to make the process a bit more equitable.

Rachel Murray (14:43):
No, I couldn't agree with you more. I called myself a closeted introvert myself, so totally appreciate all of that. I wanted to talk a little bit too, I'm glad that you mentioned older folks and how companies can adjust to that. I'm also thinking about folks that are returning to work. I think we certainly saw a lot of folks leaving work and now maybe some are coming back. And how companies are really trying to attract that kind of talent if they are, and what they're doing to bring folks in and make sure that they have an environment that is conducive to for those folks.

Ginny Cheng (15:16):
So I think on the company side, the responsibility for them would be to normalize, let's say gap in resumes or people taking time away from work however long it may be. I do think, again, that is on the company side, but for many of us that may take some time off. It may be for being a caretaker. Some people are part of a sandwich generation, so they have kids and they also have parents they have to take care of, especially the last two years with homeschooling and all that fun. But also there are people who may not have that responsibility to take time off, but they want to for their own mental health. Maybe they've been working for many years since they were young and maybe they're trying to take some time to think about career transitions or pivoting and they feel like they want to focus on that.

Ginny Cheng (16:09):
None of those should be penalized when they decide they want to go back to it. So I know there are companies out there that are trying programs for people to ease people in. And I really think those are all important, but what in order for those to be successful, it's the companies that either have to partner with them closely and make that commitment happen or overall not care about people's gap resume. Stop treating it like it's the end of the world that people actually are off or not working for a few years.

Felicia Jadczak (16:49):
Here is Reem Papageorgiou, co-founder and chief talent officer at MomUp.

Reem Papageorgiou (16:54):
It's interesting because we know that moms are rock stars, but in the workforce there's often this kind of unconscious bias about are they going to scoot, are they going to be as committed? Are they going to have another baby and we're going to have to plan for maternity leave. It's interesting because the data's out there to prove it that women and moms are kind of better in the workforce. Like super tasked at multitasking, project management, crisis management. And that's not to take away from others, but there's this untapped talent, this network of people who bring in this skill and the companies who hire them tend to have better ROI, happier employees.

Reem Papageorgiou (17:41):
The companies that are leading now have leaders that are leading with empathy. So who's better to lead? I wrote a blog post about this a while ago that of course it's illegal to ask if someone is a mom or planning to have a baby, but what if it was different? What if we were like, "Wait, we have the data to prove that they're extra awesome, let's hire them. Where are they? Let's ask because that's going to bring so much back." So that's kind of issues we try to address.

Rachel Murray (18:12):
I want to talk a little bit more to about how you sort of pivoted. I mean there was this huge drop off with Covid and I think now what we're seeing is there's interest in folks going back to the work floor workforce, what you're talking about, there's a lot more opportunity for remote and flex work. There's certainly a lot of companies that are interested in hiring and now actually have some practice with flexible work schedules and hybrid and remote. So how is it looking up now? Are you optimistic about what's coming for hiring?

Reem Papageorgiou (18:51):
There are so many awesome organizations doing the work in all different ways, and so we need to come together and make those changes. I think the candidates, we've heard a ton about the great resignation and there's that challenge and that there's a lot of reasons why people are leaving the workforce or being more specific about their roles. But the primary ones are burnout as well as realizing what can be done now and done successfully. And there's an issue of needing to really be human with our employees and ask them what they need. And it's not necessarily a benefits package, but really working with them because you're going to spend more time hiring to fit a box than if you really just worked with your employees and kept addressing what they need to keep them happy. So I think candidates, they're in a space now where they can really ask what they need for it and what they want. Some are still a little shy because it wasn't the norm, but it is true that companies are having hard times finding candidates.

Rachel Sadler (20:01):
Green flags to applicants are things like flexibility and work hours and location benefit packages that are inclusive of all types of folks, not just those who fit in this outdated nuclear family ideal. Looking at employee turnover rates and making sure those are low, looking at the makeup of your leadership and ensuring that there is racial and gender diversity, generous PTO and wellness perks. They're looking for the company's mission to be in alignment with his actions. Are all levels of the organization truly diverse or is upper management or C-suite all one demographic? Do they recruit from a variety of sources or do they lean towards recruiting from places that will provide them with the same type of candidates they've always had? Does the company speak out against injustice on all of its platforms and allot resources to a DEI committee to ensure their own practices are equitable? These are the type of things that applicants are considering from their potential employers.

Felicia Jadczak (21:01):
That was DEI facilitator, Rachel Sadler. Here's facilitator, Kia Rivera giving us examples of how bias can show up in the hiring process and how we can work to mitigate those biases.

Kia Rivera (21:13):
So some examples I've been kind of thinking of are where folks are even starting the recruiting process. So is it the same forums that you always have and if you're trying to move forward with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, are you looking at other places to post your jobs? Are your salaries listed in your job descriptions? Do you have an education requirement? What does your interview process look like? Because I think that that's a lot of where a lot of these things can have bias come up. So if you were only recruiting at the same schools, like you go, let's just use Harvard as example to go recruit for your jobs every year towards the end of May when students are graduating, you're having recency bias and bias when it comes to education and who you're showcasing as your talent as well. When it comes to other ways of bias when it comes to interviewing, are you doing interviews on the phone or on Zoom?

Kia Rivera (22:07):
Are you looking at people's backgrounds? Should people have to be dressed a certain way? I think that that's where bias can definitely show up when it comes to the interview process in particular. Because if you're looking for a certain type of person that fits a certain mold based on the way your organization's currently made up, you're not going to be able to push through your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts some other ways. What does your onboarding process look like? Is there a space for people to do work quietly or are they constantly meeting with folks? I think about how myself as an introvert, that's something I ask a lot when I go through an interview process is what does the onboarding process look like? Because I know I can get overstimulated from meeting to meeting to meeting. And when it comes to the hiring process, that is a lot of what the first week is like.

Kia Rivera (22:53):
And I know that I may not show up as my best self if that's what the entire week is. So asking and making sure that space is there for folks, but if you're catering to a certain person or a certain personality bias might show up. If someone ask that question, will I have time alone to deep dive into your systems? And if they're like, "Oh, this person doesn't want to meet other people. We may not want to hire them because they may not be friendly enough or want to actually get to know people in the organization." Bias can show up in that way and not allow for the inclusion of others or folks who think differently or need that time to process in different ways. So those are just some things, again, I could go on and on about how bias can show up, but those are just some quick ways that bias can show up.

Kia Rivera (23:34):
I think really looking at your interview process and your recruiting processes. So I love talking about PTRs, like what is a preference, tradition or requirement when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. So what is a preference when it comes to your recruiting process? Is it continuing to go to Harvard or is that just a tradition you're doing and you're always doing it? Is that something that you can really think about? What is a requirement when it comes to your job descriptions? It needs X, Y and Z things are these other things kind of fluff and might actually cause someone not to apply to a job and we're missing out on this whole pool of candidates, which inherently is sort of bias in its own way. So really thinking about what is a preference, what is a tradition and what is a requirement when it comes to this process I think is really important.

Kia Rivera (24:22):
And something I've seen, especially in the world of Covid, is looking at people's backgrounds. Not everyone is in a space where they can have their own office and their own space. So I've heard people say, "Well if someone's bed is in the background, I'm not going to hire them." That's biased right there. Not everyone is able to have their own office or go to a space in which they can have quiet and have a nice office background. Or another thing I think a lot about, especially in the tech space is white boarding and homework when it comes to the interview process. Not everyone is able to have the time to dedicate an additional five to seven hours to doing homework or pre-work or any sort of work when it comes to the interview process, especially if they're not being compensated. So who are you really gearing your interview processes towards and who are you eliminating in that aspect? And that's inherently biased as well.

Felicia Jadczak (25:15):
Elba Lizardi site director at BASF talking about the policies and processes they put in place to mitigate bias in their hiring practices.

Elba Lizardi (25:23):
So one of the things that's pretty adamant for us here at BASF around hiring and making sure that our hiring is not biased is that we require a diverse panel and a diverse slate. So you cannot proceed in the hiring process now you can get a deviation, but you have to show why you need a deviation. You are expected that when you hire you have to have at least, I want to say I can't remember if it's 50% diversity on both, but it might be 50% diversity on your slate and 50% diversity on your panel. What does that mean? It means I do a lot of interviews because I'm a woman and I'm Latina and so I get pulled into interviews and that's the other thing. You do get pulled into random interviews. I can get pulled into interviews that have nothing to do with my reporting structure, which is kind of cool as well because then you have that diversity of thought and all people on the panel have a say. You can't go move forward and hire without all of them.

Elba Lizardi (26:17):
We all have to do our own assessment of the candidate separately in a survey. So it's not just token I have a say in, "No, this isn't the right person." And so I think that has led us to eliminate some of that bias because we have to interview someone who fits the diversity criteria. And the other thing because people will be like, "Well how do you know?" We don't know, choose our candidates. And then our talent acquisition team will say, "Yes, you've met the diversity criteria or no you have not." Because all we have is a name and you can't tell if someone is every ethnicity just because of a name mean you could have, if I had married someone with a non-Hispanic last name, you wouldn't necessarily know. So it's quite interesting in that way as well because we don't even know, we'll say, "Okay, of all the resumes you sent me, I want these five."

Elba Lizardi (27:03):
And they'll come back and say, "Okay, you've met the criteria, you can move forward or no, you haven't met the criteria." So we need to leave the posting up longer to get additional candidates to move forward and we speak that language. So I'll say an example, I recently hired an EHS manager and one of my coworkers who was part of the interview actually said, Why are we interviewing a bunch of white men? You're not meeting the diversity criteria.

Elba Lizardi (27:28):
And I said, "Well," I said, "we left it posted for two months and we proactively reached out to both people within BASF and on LinkedIn who would've met the diversity criteria and nobody was interested and we, so we had to get an exception. But we showed that the exception was we had posted it for so long, we had actively recruited, tried to recruit TA people." But in that case, one of my own employees was challenging me saying, "You're not reading the criteria." So we also speak that language and challenge each other. So it's become embedded in the BASF hiring culture, which I think is great because then you're trying to get away from that bias.

Felicia Jadczak (28:03):
When you're talking about the diversity and the candidate pool and meeting that diversity criteria, is BASF thinking about it primarily from a race, an ethnicity standpoint or are they looking at different dimensions of diversity?

Elba Lizardi (28:15):
So it is race and ethnicity. It's interesting you say that because we have been challenging and asking does your LGBT or disability for example, can that be or will we consider that in the future? And so those conversations are happening both on the panel and the slate. So from both aspects they're happening. And I can tell you, I've been part of our LBGT group conversations where we're saying that is LGBT going to be considered a diversity characteristic to meet that requirement. So I would say we're not there yet because obviously then you would need your candidate pool to disclose that as well. Both that or disabilities. And people don't always want to do that. And in today's world it could be considered, oh you want to know that because you want to hold it against me. But I mean that conversation is happening and we know that that potentially is the future.

Felicia Jadczak (29:03):
Yeah, that's so interesting. And I think going back to what we were talking about earlier with the global dynamic cause that's where it also gets really tricky because in Europe and other countries, not the US, there are a lot of laws around what kind of information we can collect from a demographic standpoint and it's much stricter than what we have here in the US. I was just talking with one of our clients yesterday who's international and he had been working in the US and then just moved back to his home country last year and he had mentioned in sort of a joking manner, but he was like, "Yeah, until I moved to the US I never was asked so many times who I was, what my race was, what my background was, what I was all about." He was like, "I never had been asked so many times and it was something totally new to him because that just doesn't exist in other countries."

Felicia Jadczak (29:51):
And I think it's definitely a very delicate balance because like you said, we don't want to force people to self-identify if they're not willing or able or open to doing that. And we don't want to tokenize people either because we want to check a box or get a quota or something like that. So it's definitely a tricky thing to navigate I think. But I love the fact that it seems like there's this separation a little bit so that some of that that is taken off of your plate where you are not privy to what those characteristics are. Next we talk to Elisa Campos-Praetor about her experiences as a recruiter. Did you experience any backlash once you started to create more inclusive processes?

Elisa Campos-Praetor (30:41):
I felt that I experienced the roadblocks and the pushback with other organizations. They were in high growth mode. They needed these hires now they couldn't afford to essentially be making time for us to source underrepresented groups of polls of candidates. And so I remember there was some disorder there and I honestly was like, "You know what? At this point, this is probably not a good match for me with this organization with Scott's chief flights." So some important recruiting metrics for example are time to fill and time to hire. And so on average, usually within tech roles you're looking at potentially it takes about 70 plus days give or take for say an engineer to get hired on. And that's for just the standard engineer. Doesn't matter the background, it's just the standard engineer. When we're putting in DEI efforts to source for an underrepresented candidate, then it's going to take longer.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (31:38):
And I guess I came into Scott's thinking like, "Oh my gosh, my time to hire has to fit the average, the national average. And what's going to happen if what happens to the company, what happens to the teams? They're short staff, they're overworked." Like no, I came in with that mentality and I was very much wrong because Scott's definitely supported the fact that he understood it was going to take a long time. They knew time to hire was going to be longer. And I was showcasing the reports too.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (32:07):
Sure enough it started elongating the process. But if you think about it long term, if we have a bad hire that takes even longer to hire for. So having to have any type of individual leave, train them first you hire, you train them, and then they leave. It's, in other words, if whichever way you look at it's going to take a long time. So if anything, why not put in what matters to us as a company, What's valuable to us as a team and implement that initially into the hiring process with the expectation. Guess what it's not going to be overnight that we find somebody. If anything that resonated deeply with me and yeah, hence why I'm super proud to be at Scott's.

Felicia Jadczak (32:51):
You mentioned pipelines and sourcing and candidates and there's so much data that you can collect around it. So I think that for a lot of people, recruiting makes a lot of sense in this work. How do you see your role in the larger sphere of inclusivity and DEI? Do you see yourself as a recruiter first supporting DEI work or do you see it as support as you're really focused on the inclusivity aspect?

Elisa Campos-Praetor (33:16):
So I guess in terms of as a recruiter, do I see myself initially as a recruiter interested in DEI versus the individual perhaps with the value mindset? Honestly, it's funny, I think of myself as both because even before I was a recruiter, I was always trying to help people find jobs. I'd be, let's work on your resume, at least do some mock interviews. And being a person of color and especially first generation in tech, I was happy to help people, especially a lot of people in my neighborhood, a lot of people at school, my family, I was happy to do that.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (33:51):
And so I think naturally it just became a thought that was normal that I'm like, cool, I want to see more people, me work with me, right work or be successful as well and be able to, hey, really understand what's out there in addition to what they're just used to seeing on an everyday basis where I did not come from a family of tech. My mom for the longest, I've been working remotely for the past seven years. She actually thought I had no job, she just thought I was working on my computer, this is on my computer all day with my headset. And I was like, "No, I'm interviewing people every day." So I think honestly as a recruiter it then comes naturally.

Felicia Jadczak (34:29):
And in addition to recruiters being sort that gateway into the company, I also think that's such a huge aspect of advertising what the company is like. And I've seen a lot of, I mean I've experienced this too, make or break moments where I'm like, I know the company is not my experience with this recruiter, but this experience is turning me off. Or maybe it's the opposite. Maybe this recruiter is convincing me and I know this company is going to be really toxic. So I think that you have such an important role in this whole aspect too honestly.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (35:02):
Yeah, we are the first impressions, and you're right, if it's a bad first impression it's ever lasting, nothing can change that. I think there's an actual time that it takes to remove a bad impression. I forgot what it was, but I do know that that's the flip side of other recruiters as well. And that's where I think the candidate experience is extremely important. Whether you get a job or not, we want you to be able to reapply and reconsider us in the future perhaps, or send over referrals. And I think that's fairly new. The candidate experience overall, trying to understand, again, this is a person looking for a job that's going to manage their livelihood and essentially it's going to be spending over 60% of their day at. So I think it's very important to not look at the candidate as a number, but honestly looking at them as a person, as an actual human being and being able to personalize how you interact with them, adapt to how they're talking and thinking and essentially help them out.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (36:04):
They're looking for a job that's pretty important. So let's make that experience less stressful than it already is. I love the fact that A, obviously hiring has increased quite a bit, right? We have more people leaving jobs, really, really causing them to really question and prioritize what's important in their lives. Hence the whole great recognition happening. So we have more jobs than there are candidates. And I think that's pretty, that's going to be a challenge of course for a recruiter. But the way I look at it, again, kind of going back to that first question, do I look at DEI as a recruiter, as an individual? And honestly I'm like, this is an amazing opportunity for folks who probably never worked in tech, for example, who felt they didn't have the formal backgrounds to work in tech, to now really look at these opportunities and be like, you know what?

Elisa Campos-Praetor (36:52):
I should apply. I should take a chance, apply and potentially maybe get interviewed and hired. Whereas before, it was definitely, definitely many hurdles to get through to get any type of work in tech. And so now I look at it that these roles are going to become a bit more equitable and accessible to folks that probably didn't have the formal backgrounds prior. And given the chance to create these formal backgrounds and basically develop themselves if tech is where they want to go to it, Something that I always remind myself, because even I've talked to my husband multiple times that I'm like, Gosh, as a recruiter, there's a lot of pressure about DEI on me.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (37:35):
And I'm like, I wonder if other recruiters feel the same way, if it's just the people team or I really hope that companies understand that it's an entire team effort. Everybody is involved in it in some form or fashion. And so honestly, I think overall I, it's like a muscle. You have to continuously maintain it to be strong. So something that it's always top of mind, whether recruiters deal with the same pressure and then overall challenges when it comes to solving these problems, these challenges. So

Felicia Jadczak (38:10):
I can tell you from my experience working with a variety of different clients, my own working experience, I think just folks at the gym, you see people at different fitness levels when it comes to this. As far as DEI focused recruiters, some people are just like you and are really mindful about it, Some people are even further along. And then there are a lot of people who are thinking about it because they have to, or there's a lot of people who don't care at all. So it's really wide spectrum even still today I think. But more people are, I think moving towards it. Like I was saying earlier, recruiting is that sort of first step a lot of companies take. So I think that recruiters, I think out of all the different job functions, probably have been thinking about this the most out of any functional group in the last 10 years or so.

Elisa Campos-Praetor (38:57):
Totally. It's going to be the initial tangible way to see that. Yeah, basically your team is becoming a diverse group. So yeah, we've become a bit more metric driven as well. And so from a DEI perspective, I now have reports to do on a quarterly basis to showcase how many candidates from an underrepresented group went through the pipeline initially, did any go through the interview and really highlighting, hey, basically tactically making an effort to showcase a number there. And that's from the hiring front was pretty important to me. And then too, actually since there was such a small, we're roughly, what about 55 folks of us? E E O C reporting is something that we implemented initially to all the applications. Originally it wasn't turned on, it was something that we as a company, we were just too small. And so we were just like, well, is this off as a DEI committee?

Elisa Campos-Praetor (39:54):
In the DEA committee? We agreed to have that turned on and that data came through. And so I was able to then, obviously it's an anonymous report, but I was able to see then, hey, where am I getting more traction from these underrepresented groups? Where are the sources and where are they applying through and showcasing that data to leadership so that we continue, if it's through a specific job site, we're advertising through it. If it's a word of mouth from the folks already in the team, we'll continue maybe increasing the referral program that we have. And then third, if it happens to be essentially just word of mouth through our members, then that makes us truly happy. Because then we're like, okay, then DEA is even then spilling over into the actual customers that we have and they're seeing that this is important to us. And so they're referring then folks over to Scott's Chief flights as well.

Felicia Jadczak (40:48):
Here's Amaia Arrubarrena, Director of Diversity, equity and Inclusion at ezCater, talking about allowing current employees to stretch and grow into new roles and opportunities.

Amaia Arrubarrena (40:59):
I was very fortunate that I was surrounded by people who were supportive of my growth and who saw that I was hungry for more and I wanted to keep doing more. And were like, "Okay, listen, we need you to take it on, take it on." And saw that, and I mean this in the best way possible. I think they saw it as it's symbiotic. It was good for me, it was good for them. And that the more I was growing and taking on, I was staying at the company because I was able to grow and take more on, and I was still doing this work for the same company, even though my role would evolve and change. And I think I was just very fortunate to see people who recognize that because so often we do see that where people get, you're so good in this position, you make my life easier as a manager.

Amaia Arrubarrena (41:43):
You make my life easier having you in this position. I don't want you to go anywhere. And then they miss that that will absolutely that they will. Then they're still going to leave because people can only be kept in this place of being stagnant for so long. And so one of the responsibilities of a manager, a good manager, is recognizing this in your people and getting out of their way, doing what you can do to support them vocalizing like, Hey, I recognize this in you, recognize this in you. How can I support you in doing what you want to do? Even though, yes, that means they won't be in that position anymore, but there are so many wonderful people out there who are waiting for that opportunity and it won't open up when we keep people in them. So instead of having this thought process of it being so finite and limited and there's only one, it's like, no, no, The more we grow, the more we open those doors and we talk about sending the elevator back down, all those things, The more we do that, the more opportunities it creates for other people to have their chance to shine.

Amaia Arrubarrena (42:47):
And so I was very fortunate to be surrounded by people who did the former, which was just support me and give me space to grow. And let me take more and more on next.

Felicia Jadczak (42:57):
We talked to CA Webb, former president of the Kendall Square Association and Jason Fooks, Senior director of learning and development at Essex Property and Trust about growing their teams.

CA Webb (43:09):
So any of us who work in business know that we spend a fair amount of time paying attention to the competitive set. We want to know what products our competitors might have on their roadmaps and what are their recruiting metrics and how's their stock price. And I think diversity, equity and inclusion is a place where it's really helpful that it's increasingly become a part of that competitive vernacular and awareness. I think that employees are frankly doing a great job these days, particularly millennials and Gen Zs, and asking these questions at the recruiting fairs in the first round interviews, certainly before they accept offers, really wanting employers to prove that this isn't just marketing veneer, but that there's something real and substantive happening within their organizations.

CA Webb (44:08):
So I think that kind of competitive push is going to continue to resonate across corporate America and ensure that this is not just a George Floyd year or two of focus, but this becomes part of the set of competitive expectations. If you're going to attract the best people, they're going to hold your feet to the fire on this. So it's really, all of us have a role to play there. All of us have a role to play when we're being recruited for jobs to ask these questions. And so you better believe as I'm making my own transition and dreaming some new career dreams, this is something I'll be talking about with every organization I consider signing up with.

Rachel Murray (44:52):
I wanted to get into a little bit of cause so we're small business owners ourselves, and hiring is really a challenge. It's so funny being on the side where you're actually doing the work, growing your teams, so making sure there's cur laddering regardless of size of the organization, making sure that everyone is supported. And I think I would personally love to hear your thoughts on some highs and low, maybe some learnings that you had when it comes to scaling a team intentionally with at the forefront.

CA Webb (45:27):
Oh, that's great. I found that once we put this work at the center, we attracted, How do I say this? I mean, I want to honor everyone who ever worked for the Kendall Square Association. And we just kept attracting better and better and better people because they were so drawn to this part of our mission that we didn't just have a diversity page on our website where we said what we believed, but that there was proof. We were showing that we were centering it, we were bringing it into the Kendall Square culture. We were advancing it in really smart and substantive ways, and they wanted to be part of that. So we attracted some extraordinary people who came in willing to make a lot less than they could have made other places coming in with incredible work experience, life experience, and educational experience because they wanted to advance programs like inclusion drives innovation, and they wanted to be affiliated with the Kendall Square Association.

CA Webb (46:29):
I think the other thing I found in growing both the KSA but other entrepreneurial organizations is it's such an amazing opportunity to give employees a real chance to co-create with you. It's so different than walking into a large organization where you're going to be the 22nd person or the, I don't know, gazillion person who's ever functionally played this role. But to come in and really ask a team member to break new ground with you, to bring their whole mind and perspective and invent with you is just wildly exciting. And I always found that that was the best retention strategy I could offer, is there was learning on the job in experiential ways where they could see, we all could see evidence of our impact every single day. And that to me is that's what makes me want to leap out of bed every morning and be part of something.

Jason Fooks (47:39):
How do we stack up against our peers, not saying we need to be our peers? Because maybe they're doing it wrong too. Why? What's the point of matching that? Well, how are our numbers looking compared to our peers? I'll just be honest again, I think I mentioned earlier our recruiting efforts from a people of color standpoint, there's an opportunity to get better there and we're focusing on that, but what does good look like for a company of our size is 1700 to 1800 employees at any given time, Where should we be aiming to? I was part of our coworker, I was part of a broader HR call that included DEI conversations and it said that you should have a goal no longer is it just need to get better at it. You got to have a goal towards something. So if you, we want to hire 15 or 20 veterans this year, how are we going to do that?

Jason Fooks (48:32):
Or if you want to hire more people of color, what number are you targeting? It's no longer just we should be doing it in general, then you got to have a goal to get somewhere. But I do look at our contemporaries. It's interesting, other companies, they operate much larger geographic areas. Like in the east coast you have Philadelphia, New York, you have a DC which has more concentration of African Americans, for example. So their numbers can got to take that into account. Also, you look at our base in LA is big, but there's some parts in LA that are California that don't have a lot of African Americans. So our pool to attract is smaller from that sense as well. So you got to factor all those things and figure out, hey, where should we be? But that's something I was talking to my manager about is, "Hey, what for company HR side, what percentages should be African American? What percentage should be veterans? What percentage should be in the LGBTQ area?"

Jason Fooks (49:22):
So I think to your point, but the younger generation, the expectation is, hey, if I'm going to be here, I want X, Y, Z circumstances, I want XYZ conditions that I think that's a thing that not just as, it's probably for challenge we facing, but most companies C are facing and bringing talent in ever recruiting people, they want to see a hundred percent remote. And I don't think we're ever going to be a hundred percent remote as to how we operate and that's not our DNA. But we do really to be willing to work with people as well and be flexible in how we look at things. I think our recruiting team and my boss head of HR will constantly be looking at that as, hey, how do we balance that younger generation who wants to complete full-time remote from home versus not wanting to come in one or two days a week?

Jason Fooks (50:08):
We don't have an or just sort of a new information comes in, where does the digging and Z as we get that information best we can. The second part is I think, and I was talking to my manager about is having those tougher conversations with the leadership team that they may not be prepared to have. Now I'll wordsmith it the right way, of course, but I think we've done a good job of laying out our strategy. What we want to do. What I want to see is, okay, now it's on Andy up and kick in, who's in here with me? How do we get that done? Whether it's senior VP joining me at a job fair, whether it's a contemporary of mine helping me run this internship program. One thing we did, I'll tell you a little offshoot, we started as a part of our DI efforts, we actually started a diversity intern program, which we partner with Fannie Mae and NA Re, which is a real estate investment trust board, if you will.

Jason Fooks (51:01):
We partner with them and say, okay, how can we get a pipeline of people of color coming into the organization? Black Indian could be Asian, it doesn't really matter, but how do we create that pipeline? That's one thing we've had sort of bringing in four interns this summer as part of that program with the expectations, assuming they do well and graduate, we'd like to offer them positions. That's just one stream though. We need more, You know, guys hear people say, we need more revenue stream, more recruiting streams. We can't rely on one thing to get us over the finish line. That's a big, big thing that I want to challenge and a challenge, if you will, the leadership team in terms of, hey, when we're hiring folks, are we looking at candidates of color? Are we bringing them into interviews? Are they making it past the first interview? Are they making second I? How are we doing things? You know, always hear about blind resumes.

Jason Fooks (51:48):
Well, I've never done that. It seems like it could be effective. I would need to research that a bit more. Maybe in your recruiting workshop you can talk about that, maybe plug for you guys, but that's something I want to hold everybody accountable, myself included, hold people accountable because we can't just hunt and p around it anymore. Done that and we're doing good at that. And now it's time for action.

Felicia Jadczak (52:15):
You've gotten through the recruiting process, you've had some amazing candidates come in with a variety of backgrounds and lived experience, and you even have an accepted offer. What happens next? Let's talk onboarding with Karina Becerra, Director of customer advocacy at podium. So we pulled you into basically all aspects of SGO, so you've also dipped your toe into the facilitation side of things with us. And in your roles, I'm curious, how are you approaching DEI bias at work? Are you taking any of those training lessons, I guess, or any of those concepts and how does that look like in I guess, your day to day practice for you?

Karina Becerra (52:56):
Every single day? For me like DEI is, and having that lens is something that I use every single day. When I think about all of the folks, I'm completely remote. I haven't even been to our headquarters yet. I'm leading this 50 person organization, have never met them live. So for me, it's super important to meet them where they are, whether it's virtual, whether it's individual, sort of asking what is your preference around how you want to engage with me? Having the resources and tools available for people and the way that they want to learn content as they onboard their experience hiring. We hadn't had standardized sort of questionnaires and criteria when we were hiring people, so that was the first thing that I did. These are the set of questions that every single person is going to be asked. We need to eliminate as many biases as we can as possible, and then also kind of opening up our net or remote possibilities.

Karina Becerra (53:58):
Prior to covid, the organization that I work at traditionally only hired people, the Utah area, and now I would say 30 to 40% of new folks are outside entirely different. So that's top of mind hiring from everywhere in the US for now until we decide to grow even more and standardizing the way that we're hiring and then ongoing training and support and also thinking remote first. That's the thing that always keeps back in my mind. How is this experience going to be for somebody who's joining the organization that has never been to our office? Let's think of that person first.

Rachel Murray (54:35):
I want to dive into onboarding. You mentioned it a bunch of times, and what does your onboarding process look like these days?

Karina Becerra (54:43):
I think that our organization is on the greener side. I think that as we continue to scale up, you kind of realize that there are some things that you need to really focus on, and that includes creating really great content, extending the timeframes for people to get comfortable with content, make it fun, make it interactive, because people consume content in many different ways. And honestly, I think that as part of the onboarding experience, people should have the ability to raise their hands and say, This isn't working for me, or can we do this instead? So that is really taking a lot of my time right now because I think that you capture, you have an opportunity sort of to capture somebody's attention and really sort set the expectations of what you want them to accomplish at work early on. And if you fail there, that's a really hard relationship too, to repair.

Felicia Jadczak (55:41):
Let's talk details, because you obviously don't have to give away your secret sauce, but I'm sure people who are listening and Rachel and myself want to know, what does a typical onboarding process look like for a new hire coming into your organization? For us at SGO, we have a process where usually we take that first week and we have a number of different, we have check-ins with each member of the team. We've got 30, 60, 90 day goals that we put in place. There's a lot of communication and like you said, content learning. But I'm really curious because your team is so big and you've grown it so quickly, you must have some kind of standard process in place. I'm curious what that looks like.

Karina Becerra (56:20):
Yeah, so the standard process is, obviously, the cool thing about it is that even if you're hired remotely, if you want to do your onboarding experience live, you can come to the headquarters and do that. So you have an entire first week as an onsite. The program is really three to four weeks in total. So first week, second week is really getting introduced to the systems, getting introduced to the product, getting introduced to your team, setting expectations with your manager around performance. Things expected of you to do day to day, second week is really sort of shadowing, doing brainstorming sessions with other folks that are onboarding along with you and doing role playing as well. And then third and fourth week is being shadowed on calls with other teammates.

Karina Becerra (57:07):
And then ongoing, it's weekly support meetings and product meetings, and then obviously meeting with your individual team in one on ones. The onboarding experience should also be kind of an opportunity for people to think, Okay, great. Maybe I'll spend a year here. Where else could I go after that year? They should see this as a launchpad for them, whether it's at the organization or elsewhere.

Felicia Jadczak (57:37):
Thanks so much for listening. Please don't forget to rate, share, and subscribe. It makes a huge difference in the reach of this podcast and by extension, this work. Make sure to tune in next week, and we talk about building inclusive cultures. If you're looking to further your own knowledge and gain support alongside other incredible people, join our free community. You'll get a welcoming built in support system grounded in the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. You'll have access to bonus episodes, additional resources, courses, webinars, coaching, and more. Check it [email protected]/community. This episode was written, produced and edited by Vena Jacamo, hosted by Felicia Jadczak, me, and Rachel Murray. The guests featured in this episode were Ginny Cheng, Reem Papageorgiou, Elba Lizardi, Elisa Campos-Praetor, Amaia Arrubarrena, CA Webb, Jason Fooks and Karina Becerra. Our facilitators were Rachel Sadler and Kia Rivera.