How to approach DE&I: Q&A with Twitter’s Head of Talent Acquisition

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4 mins, 42 secs read time

Most companies recognize that building a diverse & inclusive organization can increase employee retention rates as well as create an open atmosphere that allows for different perspectives to be heard. However, creating such an organization can be challenging and often requires new policies to be put in place in order to actually achieve the level of diversity and inclusion desired.

In our latest Hiring Hacks webinar, we sat down with Steve Wells, Head of Talent Acquisition at Twitter, and asked him a series of questions about Twitter’s approach to promoting diversity in the workplace.

To listen to the full recording of the Hiring Hacks webinar, How Twitter's Head of Talent Acquisition Approaches Diversity and Inclusion, click here!

Take a look at this snippet from our conversation, and use the information to start planning how you’re going to carry out (or improve!) diversity and inclusion initiatives in your company:

Question 1 - Developing goals for diversity and inclusion

Greenhouse: As a manager, what is the first thing you should do to develop your diversity & inclusion goals?

Steve: Everybody has an HR business partner. If you don’t have a group that’s devoted to diversity & inclusion initiatives, you have someone to talk to in HR. When you think of the talent lifecycle, there’s hiring, onboarding, and the employer experience process, so you have to partner with your HR team to understand where in this mix you want to (and need to) make a difference in regards to diversity and inclusion and how they can help you relay the message you’re trying to relay.

Question 2 - Relating the applicant pipeline to your diversity & inclusion goals

Greenhouse: In the applicant pipeline, what should companies measure, and should it be specific to your diversity and inclusion goals?

Steve: This will be different for every company. For us, hiring more female engineers is a good goal because they are an underrepresented group. Companies need to look at each functioning area: new applications, recruiting screens, in-person interviews, how many people start in the offer process, and how many people accept, so that you can then determine the inconsistencies and the gaps. As you’re collecting your data, dissect it per open role. This can be facilitated by a robust ATS reporting capability. Also, if you don’t have a recruiting operations team member—get one! It’s essential to have someone on staff who will dive into this data so you can understand what you need to solve for.

Question 3 - Bringing in applicants at the top of funnel

Greenhouse: How are top of funnel of applicants a great entry point for diversity and inclusion?

Steve: As you know, the first step in recruiting is to attract talent. So typically a company has a website, the applicant applies, and they are coming in at the top of the funnel.

But, the question is, how do you get a more inclusive and diverse group of folks to come into the funnel? There are a lot of opportunities to put yourself right in front of highly diverse crowds, and this should be your starting point. For instance, recruit directly on college campuses or at groups like NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and Grace Hopper, a women’s organization. Recruiting from a concentrated group (as opposed to casting a wide net) will increase your chances of meeting your diversity & inclusion goals, and in a shorter amount of time.

Question 4 - Discussing diversity and inclusion at intake meetings

Greenhouse: Overall, intake meetings, you say, are the most important meetings in the recruiting process, especially if you want to ensure you’re keeping diversity and inclusion in mind. What are they, who should be in them, and how often should you conduct them?

Steve: This is a concept that I’m surprised most people don’t know about and follow through with. An intake meeting is the best opportunity to solve most of your recruiting problems, including meeting your diversity & inclusion goals. It’s where you sit with the hiring managers and ask some questions to ensure you’re recruiting the exact person they’re hoping for.

So, start by asking what the job looks like to them, in their own words, and then ask as many follow up questions as needed. This 1-on-1 time is the best time to get to know them and their team’s diversity & inclusion goals. From this, a partnership will unfold, and you can better support each other in staying on track and achieving these goals.

Question 5 - Collecting data to drive workplace diversity

Greenhouse: To build a foundation for diversity & inclusion recruiting success, what data should you look at?

Steve: There are 6 different data points that someone should track:

  • How many applicants do you have?

  • How many screens have you done?

  • How many candidates has the hiring manager reviewed?

  • How many interviews have there been?

  • How many candidates have received an offer?

  • What are your conversation rates?

If you get those down, you can start to figure out where your diversity & inclusion issues stem from and which areas need improvement. For example, you can look at different hiring managers’ conversion rates and see if there are any inconsistencies. This is a great opportunity to build a process that’s more inclusive and stop cloning the same candidates that continue to get hired time and time again.

To learn more about Twitter’s approach to building a diverse and inclusive organization, and why Steve says “no” to getting references from job applicants, be sure to listen to the full webinar recording.

Hiring Hacks webinar