Diversity Recruiting the Hard Way
How Checkr Is Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce
Below is an article originally written by Arthur Yamamoto, Director of Talent Acquisition at Checkr, and published on June 3, 2018. Go to Checkr's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Research has shown that the most innovative companies employ diverse workforces. And yet Silicon Valley — widely known as the center of the tech innovation universe — has long been criticized for a lack of diversity. While Checkr's workforce wasn't as homogenous as many other companies in tech, we took a hard look in the mirror and realized we could do better.
At the beginning of 2018, our CEO and Executive team made the bold commitment to become the model for what a modern, diverse company should be. (With our company mission to improve fairness in employment, having an employee base that accurately reflects our client and applicant base is a must). As the recruiting leader tasked with leading the charge, I was torn. Fundamentally, I believe that diverse teams are more successful, and that Checkr will be a better company for it. But as a recruiter, I knew it would be hard, hard work (But anything truly rewarding and worth doing is difficult, right?).
We had numerous discussions with our leadership team about the complexities and difficulties of diversity recruiting, and set expectations around the effect it could have on hiring velocity. Ultimately, we had consensus that to do it right, we would have to do it the hard way.
The first, and arguably most important requirement is executive buy-in. We needed to have the agreement that:
- This is important.
- This is going to be difficult.
- You will carry this message to your teams as this will be a company-wide effort.
- We won't adjust or give up when we inevitably encounter opposition, roadblocks, or slowdown in hiring velocity.
Thankfully, we started with this buy-in, but made sure to address this and re-address this to ensure everyone's consensus.
The other requirement are more familiar to most. Ensuring the recruiters are bought in and understand the challenges. For example, traditional candidate pools are not diverse, and diverse candidates in these pools are not always easy to identify. Not everyone in a company believes in diversity, and some may voice resistance, so buy-in across the company was key as well. Everyone naturally has unconscious bias that you consciously have to address. And as a company, you have to identify what diverse means to you, as diversity comes in many forms.
After our People Ops team completed surveys & research, we were comfortable that we had a wide range of employees from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and different sexual orientation. What we were clearly lacking was gender parity and representation in underrepresented minorities.
And then we set ambitious goals to get to 50/50 gender parity and 15% Under-represented Minorities (URM) in our workforce by the end of the year, and even included them in our company's quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
We agreed that the key change in our process would be what we call "The Rooney Rule Plus" (RR+). What RR+ means is that before a hiring manager can make an offer to any candidate, that hiring manager has to have interviewed (final stage/onsite) two candidates who fit our defined diverse candidate pools (Women & URMs). We also agreed that there could be no exceptions to this rule for it to be effective.
Part and parcel of the RR+ was the understanding that we would never "force" a hiring manager to hire anyone. The process was built simply to ensure that a hiring manager had to see a diverse slate of candidates before making a decision, and the belief that with that information we would naturally see more offers going to diverse candidates.
In addition, we launched interview training for the entire company on the foundations for behavioral interviewing, well known to help reduce bias. We structured our interview process to ensure the same questions would be asked of every candidate for every role — also foundational in overcoming bias. We even launched a training dedicated to the responsibilities around being a hiring manager, with further reinforcement around the importance of diversity and sourcing for diverse candidates.
From a recruiting standpoint, we opened up new candidate pools by doing everything from targeting new geos (and being open to remote workers) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to finding different organizations and professional associations centered around the candidate pools we were after. We partner with companies that focus on blind interviewing like interviewing.io to recruiting platforms centered around women in tech like PowerToFly. We push our hiring managers to be active in the sourcing process, and have even experimented with Boolean strings that filter out the most common male names. We host referral drives dedicated solely to surfacing diverse candidates. We continue to iterate and explore new things as best we can.
The results (thus far)
What we've found thus far is that we've been able to maintain our pace without a huge loss to our hiring velocity. The amazing work done by everyone from hiring managers, interviewers, executives and recruiters has allowed for this. And while we still have a lot of time left in the year, we've had our biggest hiring quarter to date and we're again on pace to surpass that with great diversity hiring numbers YTD! (Look forward to sharing year end results of our work later this year)
And while we still have a long road ahead of us, I'm incredibly proud to work for a company that cares about the right things, and isn't afraid to do it the hard way. (aka the only way)
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
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