Building a diverse team is no longer a luxury or a pipe dream. It’s a necessity to producing a good product. It also prevents the creation of a toxic culture that could hurt you in more ways than just creating bad code. I still don’t use Uber to this day because I don’t want to support a toxic culture to female engineers. Remember the Google scandal from a few years ago?
But still, hiring is hard. Most startups I talk to don’t have a diverse pipeline and have no idea how to fix it.
Here are a few tips to diversifying your hiring pipeline.
Rework your job listings
One of the main reasons more diverse candidates don’t apply for certain job postings is wording. Does your company have “demanding” or “grueling hours” all over the job posting? Is the best employee benefit listed that you can offer beer and a ping pong table? If your company comes across as a fraternity, most non-white male candidates are going to scroll past your job posting.
Avoid strict requirements
I know very few engineers that have a CS degree. Some of the best engineers I know didn’t even finish college. Many of the ones that do have a degree have said it helped them get their feet in the door but it’s been useless later in their career. Remove requirements that aren’t absolutely necessary to obtain success on the job.
A man is much more likely to apply for a position where he doesn’t quite meet all the qualifications yet a woman with the same qualifications as the man will not. You’re going to miss out on great people who think they can’t do the job but can.
One of the favorite things about my current company’s job posting when I applied was that they put “Even if you don’t feel you exactly match this listing, please still apply!” It was a fantastic way to show that they understand that some candidates won’t apply to a listing if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements and thus, diversify your pipeline.
Rework your interviewing process
I talked to a Google recruiter a few years ago and the recruiter mentioned their commitment to diversifying their engineering team — but in the same call, she started outlining the interview process which was not friendly to anyone without a CS degree. Maybe even a masters! After the call, the recruiter sent me the list of preparation material for interviewing. Even with a CS degree, I would have been hard pressed to adequately prepare. I declined to continue the process.
Engineering interviews need to change (that’s a whole other blog post) so start with creating an interview that mimics work the engineer would actually do on the job.
Offer larger bonuses to employees that refer diverse candidates
Sometimes your best resource for hiring won’t be your recruiter — it will be your engineers. I’ve made sure to refer diverse candidates to every company I’ve worked at.
Some companies even offer an extra incentive to employees that refer a diverse candidate.
Connect with a coding bootcamp for hires
My last company, Eventbrite, would hire graduates right out of Hackbright (an all female coding bootcamp). They became some of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with. Not to mention, if you’ve quit your job and dropped 10–18k for a bootcamp, you’re committed. And while the bootcamp grads won’t have years of engineering experience, they will have prior careers that have taught them other valuable skills like managing clients, and how to meet grueling deadlines. Some of the grads that I worked with had the best work ethic I’ve ever seen.
If you don’t have any coding bootcamps near you, try connecting with a local female coders meetup group that will help you source candidates.
Be remote friendly
Enough said! Women are more likely than men to have to stay home and take care of children or aging parents. By not offering remote positions, you lose out on great candidates. I work remote and I’ve never been more productive in my life. I also just feel generally happier every day so I want to do even better at my company.
Work on your website
What do candidates see when they check your website? Include a section on your commitment to diversity and how you offer generous paid family leave. (You do offer this, right?) Do you stress that your company offers mentorship for more junior candidates? Do your photos show the beer pong table or do they show the private room for nursing mothers? (Note, Eventbrite had several rooms for nursing mothers. I highly recommend you check out their job postings!)
Simple as that!
A few months ago, I talked to a great company that wanted to hire more senior and diverse engineers. I posted the companies website to a few women’s coding groups. The first thing that people commented on is why they wouldn’t want to work at the company. They didn’t have a single non-white male employee shown on the site and the beer pong table was on prominent display.
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