I bet your diversity policy sucks

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This topic — diversity hiring policy — is both tricky and relatively fraught with land mines, so I won’t spend a ton of time on it. I do think a few elements related to it probably need to be addressed.

Mostly when you talk about a diversity hiring policy, you mean hiring more minorities or females into key roles. That is awesome. I am definitely not against that, nor should anyone be. Some frame up diversity in companies as a “moral imperative,” and I would mostly agree with that. There are hundreds of studies, often from reputable organizations, claiming that diversity will improve the bottom line. Since the literal definition of a company is “a bunch of people passive aggressively working together to improve the bottom line,” seems like we need a better diversity hiring policy all told.

Problem: most companies operate according “The Spreadsheet Mentality,” whereby it’s all about what can be tracked. It’s very easy to track “Well, we hired 191 women last year.” It’s much harder to track the kind of diversity we really need in workplaces, which is perspectives, backgrounds, ways of thinking about new challenges, etc.

What we need in companies is cognitive diversity, but we often lack that — and it’s not surprising, since the first word is “cognitive.” Almost anything related to “cognitive” at work dies in a flood of “I think that’s a L&D thing!” or “Maybe Mary from HR owns that?”

Quick quote on an ideal diversity hiring policy

Decent article here about terrible job interviews. We’ve all had those, right? Instantly relate! I won’t even go through the meat of the article, but this quote is nice:

“In any position I interview for,” she says, “I am always looking for companies that value employees who have a diversity of interests beyond work . . . I just know that if I don’t have downtime in my life, I won’t be effective and great at what I do in the workplace.”

Ding ding ding.

The major problems of less-diverse (interest-wise) workplaces

I could probably name 15, but let’s start smaller.

A culture of target-hitting: If all you do is recruit and hire people who only care about work, all you have now is target-hitters. That’s good in one way. (They hit targets.) It’s bad in many other ways. First off, unless you’re doing 30% CAGR, you can’t promote all these people — so some of them will get burned out and leave. The culture becomes insanely competitive, which is not a good thing no matter how positively you view competition.

Really hard for gratitude and true connection to develop: Gratitude is a big deal at work, as is true social connection and friendships. If all anyone cares about is work, those necessary elements become harder to establish.

No new ideas: which you need.

Homophily: which you don’t.

Lots of ass-kissing up the chain: If people care about mostly work, they’ll want to advance at work — which means the power core will get their ass kissed more, which doesn’t help with effective decision-making.

… and the “disruption” problem

“Disruption” is a confusing term to many.

Let’s change the discussion about work, which is often buzzword-laden vomit. We get real once a week. Interested?

Technology often plays into it, but more than that, it’s usually bad, cost-driven, old-school decision-making with too much bureaucracy. Those companies get disrupted. It helps if tech enters their industry, sure, but the disruption comes from not knowing how to maximize people or processes — the tech is just corollary to that.

Can we improve our diversity hiring policy?

Sure. Just realize a few things:

  • It doesn’t mean black/white, penis/vagina, etc.
  • That’s part of it but you also want different ideas and backgrounds
  • Of course, that is much harder to spreadsheet/ATS check for
  • You can never, ever, ever remove subjectivity from a hiring process so long as one person is interviewing another person
  • But you can put more checks and balances in place
  • Bring in a whole team as a committee to decide
  • Strip the power from the hiring manager
  • HR would be terrified of this, but put a controversial topic between the applicant and the existing team. See where the discussion goes. (The candidate would be terrified too, I realize.)

Most anything associated with our “hiring policy” at any company these days is a CYA designed to keep legal off someone else’s ass. That probably doesn’t get you the best people, but I suppose “getting the best people” isn’t always the point. It’s usually minimizing liability for those who make the biggest checks.

Could we hire for more cognitive and interest-diversity, though? Is there a hiring policy that would help with that and legal needs?

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