Jessica Powell, the former Google vice president who wrote The Big Disruption and told you how to quit your job, is here to answer your common but tricky work questions. Check back every other week for more management advice with a tech inflection.
Hiring a diverse team is supposedly a priority for our small tech company, but the managers keep elevating the same candidate profile for a role. When I push back, they tell me they don’t have time to make diversity a priority for this role or to slow down to find a more diverse candidate pool. How do I convince them to prioritize diversity when there are competing priorities?
Few things are more grating than watching companies pay lip service to diversity but do little in their hiring or retention practices that translate these good intentions into tangible results. They’ll put a picture of a diverse employee base on the jobs page of their website, but when employees point to the company’s poor diversity metrics, execs might answer that the pipeline of diverse candidates is small, or that they don’t want to “lower the bar” (ugh).
It sounds like your company is well-intentioned but wants to prioritize diversity only up to the point where it doesn’t impede other company objectives. And that’s the problem: When it comes to moving fast, diversity, while a long-term strength, can often seem to be a short-term hindrance.
Hiring is a great example of this. When we need to hire someone for a role, we naturally reach out to our own networks. What better way to find good people than to talk to people you know or who are friends of friends?
The problem is that research shows that our professional and social networks tend to look a lot like us across multiple factors — race, gender, class, educational background, and age. As companies grow, they are filled with more and more people who are very similar.
By the time companies wake up to their diversity problem and task recruiters with tackling it, the employee base is so large and homogeneous that people who are a bit different have a harder time breaking through.