Management: Your Recruitment Pipeline Is Your Responsibility

Management: Year One Series

This is my Year One series on Management. It’s going to be ongoing, kinda like a serialized comic of sorts. I’ll tag these posts when I make them so, at some point, maybe someone who is also getting into a management role can see they are not alone. Batman wasn’t Batman in a day. Even he has a Year One, Two, and Three.

I was recently in a diversity round table at work. We had discussions about how we could bring more diverse candidates into the company. The old reasons were brought out and I realized, maybe, because of the community I've been involved in, and the people I listen to that I need to say something about how you can bring in more diverse groups of people and build a culture of folks that use that diversity to their advantage.

It's Not A Pipeline Problem

First and FOREMOST - It's not the pipeline. Whether you run a business or a conference. It's not the pipeline. It's literally the lack of community engagement and trust-building within different communities that is the problem.

If someone showed up at your house at midnight and asked for a thousand dollars that they said they would pay back over time, would you agree to that deal?

When you ask folks schedule a job interview, or submit an application, and you've never presented yourself at any time before that initial interaction, if you flipped the tables, what would your reaction be?

I know my reaction is to delete that query, or letter, or voicemail. It happens to me all the time. I get some random outreach, from some random company, and I'm expected to feel privileged that they contacted me. I'm a white woman in tech with all that entails, and that's my initial first reaction to something like that.

Now think of someone that's underrepresented, or marginalized. You reach out to them, cold, don't know anything but the words on a website, and you want them to go through all of the emotional labor to do an interview, to do a white board, to explain their qualifications, to possibly deal with hostile in-person interviews requiring them to "prove" more times than they can count that they are a qualified candidate.

If you think I'm joking, read this. I know this person. I know for a fact that they are a very qualified individual (I tried to hire them myself at one point) and Github screwed them over.

It's Not An Availability Problem

When folks talk about not being able to get a diverse group of qualified speakers for a conference to talk about any topic, a lot of folks call BS.

Want an example:

This conference was organized in less than a few months, was all online and featured all Black Tech folks from all over the place.

This tweet couldn't be more true in my opinion:

All of this was streamed online for free. There is no excuse. If you're an ally, and you notice that you've been accepted to a conference that doesn't have a diverse line up, or pay for speaker travel especially for folks that are not sponsored by a corporation, you should back out from that conference. The biggest impediment for some folks is the cost of travel, besides not being asked to speak at conferences.

Do The Work

If you are a recruiter that hasn't made connections into various communities before you need to tap those communities for roles, you're not doing the work.

If you're a hiring manager and you don't have a network of diverse folks that you can rely on to give your rec to awesome people, you're not doing the work.

Social media is the double edge sword. I get it. However, I can tell you with very little doubt that if you engage in a way that shows you are present and willing to listen, along with interacting respectfully, you'll build trust, you'll help build community, and you'll help build diversity no matter where you are and what you are doing.

Am I perfect at this? No. I'm human. I don't reach out often enough, I don't keep in touch on a regular basis like I should. Could I use excuses, yes. Excuses are my privilege talking. I'm in a place where I can use those excuses to justify why I'm not doing the work.

When June is over, don't go back to your business as usual routine. Find one thing you can do while we are all in this COVID limbo to help people out.

My thing - the easiest thing - is to retweet as many diverse people as possible. Is it enough, no. Probably not by a long shot. I give money where I can. And I listen.

Except for right now - this is all me telling my fellow white managers, we need to do more. Maybe I'm stepping out of line here. Maybe this blog post is a mistake. But I can't keep working and ignore the fact that people want easy solutions to this, and there aren't. There are only hard ones. There are so many crazy things going on right now, the least you can do is find one thing to do that might help.

Recruiting diverse engineering candidates what tech companies still get wrong

(Please feel free to add more links to articles in the comments. I'll try to add more to this blog post as I come across them.)


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