Creating a talent pipeline that doesn’t look like the one you already have

For many companies fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion are considered an extra, something you do on top of the business model you already have.

In others, it’s a competitive point, one that opens the door (and tries to keep it open) for talented folks in customer service, engineering, marketing, design, operations, and more. 

In a very small number of companies / organizations, it is a core part of their DNA from the start, doing the work it takes to not only recruit and keep a wide range of talent, but also put ownership, responsibility, and impact into those hands. 

If you’re not in that last group, but you want to be, you may be asking yourself “where can I get 100% amazing talent that is also diverse and inclusive?”

Having worked on it as a hiring manager myself over the years as well as closely observing others, my experience is that there are two ways to do it. Great companies do both. 

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A good hiring culture / pipeline is not on demand

Yesterday one of my roommates and I talked about the lack of diversity in tech / startups. 

In particular, we were thinking out loud about pipeline problems. In plain English that just translates as: how to get a set of good, qualified applicants who aren’t all white, male, and from upper economic tiers. 

This is a fairly regular conversation for me. It’s also something I’ve worked on in startups and corporate, at times directly via hiring and at times by supporting other people involved in or responsible for the process. 

Even the best founders / tech companies struggle with this. It’s common to hear people say that they are open to having a diverse hiring culture….and then find out that they don’t know how or aren’t willing to make the effort beyond posting jobs in a few obvious places. This is usually followed by wondering why they seem to get the same type of applicants. 

Other people have written extensively about why you might want to have a diverse hiring culture with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, and other categories, so I won’t do that here…if you are looking for stats and research for the whys, here’s a good / fairly comprehensive resource created by Brittany Laughlin, GM of the Union Square Ventures Network and multiple times an entrepreneur. 

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