Why a strong DE&I strategy is crucial for engineering team hiring success

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4 mins, 15 secs read time

Greenhouse Talent Acquisition Manager Melissa Lobel was recently building out a DE&I strategy for hiring the Data Migration Engineering team at Greenhouse. Through a fortuitous chain of events, all the previous team members had been promoted to other roles, so Melissa found herself needing to build the team from scratch.

We caught up with Melissa to hear how she approached this process with a true Talent Maker mentality and committed to creating opportunities for folks from backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented on tech teams.

Greenhouse: What does it mean to build a diverse and inclusive team in this context?

Melissa: Historical barriers to entry in the tech space have resulted in largely homogeneous teams. In order to expand the diversity of thought and continue driving creativity for our teams, it’s important to make sure we’re prioritizing inclusive interviewing practices. In this case we’re looking to expand the reach of our opportunities so that we can create a candidate pool which is more inclusive of historically underrepresented groups in the tech space.

Greenhouse: Can you give us a quick overview of the Data Migration Engineering team – why were you building out this team and why was it so important to create a diverse and inclusive team from the outset?

Melissa: This team actually already existed, but – great news – through Greenhouse’s emphasis on internal mobility and growth, the previous team members had moved into new roles across the org, so we were effectively building the team from scratch.

There are several reasons why we wanted to prioritize building a diverse and inclusive team:

Given that Greenhouse works with companies from a variety of industries across the world, it was important that our team come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to better inform how we can create value for our diverse range of customers.

When thinking about how we continue building the next generation of Greenies, we want to ensure that we’re carrying through the values of creating inclusive teams. These folks have the potential to be future leaders of Greenhouse.

Greenhouse: What were some of the steps that you took to make sure you were including candidates from underrepresented backgrounds?

Melissa: The traditional method of sourcing someone from LinkedIn – which might be most recruiters’ first stop – doesn’t easily translate for this position because the key skills could be represented in a lot of different ways. Instead of doing that, I opted to seek out DE&I focused communities, share the roles there and start to build relationships within those communities.

Greenhouse: Can you share a bit more about what that partnership or engagement looked like?

Melissa: We posted our roles with three different organizations –#HIREBLACK, which focuses on lifting up the careers of Black women, Tribaja, which works with people of color and people from historically underrepresented groups who want to work in startups and Techqueria, for LatinX folks who want to work in tech.
There were a few different ways we engaged with them. All of these communities have Slack groups, so I became active and started to build relationships there. We also did speaking engagements and job fairs.

Within these postings we also included an email address where folks could reach out to either the recruiter or hiring manager to ask questions. This was appreciated by folks who felt apprehensive about applying for a role until knowing they were qualified for it. Being able to answer a lot of those questions really quickly or via email or Slack was really helpful. It took away some of those nerves and anxiety.

Greenhouse: What kinds of results did you see from these partnerships?

Melissa: These partnerships and postings proved to be very successful! During this search, we generated 28 applicants from these communities alone, which resulted in 50% of our hires on this team.

Greenhouse: That’s a pretty impressive stat! Do you have any key learnings you can share from this process?

Melissa: In the hustle of everyday recruiting, it seemed daunting to invest time into a non-traditional recruiting method. After being a part of these communities, I’ve learned so much about what the candidate experience is like and connected with great folks along the way!

It requires a lot of empathy to make sure that you’re able to meet candidates where they’re at. People want to feel like they’re going to be valued and set up to succeed in their job or at their organization, so how you engage is a reflection of your company’s culture.

It’s also essential for our hiring managers to see that this is important for our organization. We’re literally building the future of our company because these folks are getting promoted into leadership roles. So we have to be intentional about prioritizing diversity and inclusion from day one, whether that’s how we write the job description or define scorecard attributes for the interview kit. And of course this is an ongoing conversation that continues throughout the hiring process!

Feeling inspired by Melissa’s story? Learn more about how to become a Talent Maker here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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