Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hiring and Diversity

I’m so glad to see another man thinking about hiring women and members of marginalized groups. I started a comment that post, but it became rather long, so I am posting it here instead. Read Jay's original post at the link above for perspective, although I hope that what I have written below stands fairly well on its own.

Jay,
I really like your post: "Hiring Awesome Developers (who happen to be women)". I've been thinking about how to write a "disclaimer" paragraph like your “Before you start” paragraph. You've covered many of my thoughts. I also try and acknowledge to people that I will make mistakes, and that I will accept the impact of my words regardless of their intention. Further, I won’t expect people to teach me about those mistakes (although I am totally open to it), and I will research on my own until I think I understand them.

Another thing I find important is to amplify the voices of people in marginalized groups. I try to provide references to people who belong to the groups that I am speaking about. They are the ones whose lives are affected daily by these issues and they speak from the most authority.

Your paragraph “A Possible Plan” addresses the so-called “pipeline” problem that results in too few minority and women candidates. But another reason that the makeup of companies is still disproportionately is that women are leaving STEM in large numbers. We need to make sure that our company cultures and environments are really fair to women and minorities and free from discrimination and bias before we bring in women and minorities, or we risk losing them and alienating them more.

We can also examine our websites and job descriptions for wording and imagery that may discourage women and members of marginalized groups from applying. A simple example is a posting that looks for “ninja” developers who can “smash” technical problems — this aggressive language exclude women from considering themselves as a candidate.

Finally, women tend not to apply for tech jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria in the posting while men apply if they match 60%. I’m not sure what to do about that - maybe mention in the posting that not all criteria are required and avoid long lists of “nice-to-haves”.

I wrote another post that has a more concise bullet-list of things I'm learning about diversity and the workplace.

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