Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Are you even trying?

The hiring pipeline in tech is easy to blame. You’ve probably heard the excuses. Maybe made some of them yourself. I know I have. “There aren’t enough female candidates.” or “We don’t get many people of color applying for jobs.” or “We’d hire them if we could find them.” The list goes on.

Yet people in these underrepresented groups are scratching their heads. Many qualified candidates, trying hard to get hired, are feeling passed over. Unnoticed. Invisible even.

There’s been a boatload published on this topic, from best practices shared in anecdotal blog posts to reports from social science researchers. And the pipeline is still getting blamed.

Over here at The Male Allies Project, we’ve compiled our list of top 10 everyday actions any hiring manager can do to diversify their candidate pipeline. And we hope you’ll try them out.

First of all, let’s look at your website’s Careers Page:

1) Do the photos show people of all kinds thriving at your company? Or are they full of techbro’s having a good time? If you need to change the photos, put in a request with your web team asap. Make a stink if your request is is going to take months to handle.

2) Does your career page have stories of how your customers have used your product for social good? If not, include some to help attract more diverse candidates. Ask someone who’s a decent writer to draft a customer story or two. Bribe them if you have to.

3) Do you highlight Inclusion Councils and Employee Resource Groups for women and underrepresented people, along with any diversity initiatives? Your careers page should be loud and proud about them to show a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace.

Let’s move on to easy changes to make to your Job Description:

4) Are you using gendered language in the job description? Look out for words like “guy”, “craftsman”, “he”, “him”, “his”, “right-hand man” etc., and change them to be welcoming to all. If you have budget, use an automated tool like Textio to do this.

5) Does your job description have more than five requirements? If so, it’s time to simplify things. Remove any requirements that aren’t necessary. Ditto for the number of years of experience, unless you’re serious about measuring all candidates for it. (Ask yourself, if a strong candidate came along with only 2 years working with Java, would you hire them even if your job posting says you require 3–5 years? If your answer is yes, you shouldn’t list the years at all.)

Cut the “nice to have’s” and “preferred” requirements unless you truly need this experience (in which case, call them out as “full” requirements.) With a simpler set of requirements, you will attract more women, who tend to apply for roles only if they have ALL the experience you are looking for. Strive to get the list of requirements down to just five. It’s hard, but not impossible.

6) Do you list open source experience? Unless it’s a strict requirement for the position, don’t mention it in at all. After all, only about 10% of open source contributors are women. The landscape can be harsh — a lack of role models, competing personal and family priorities, a combative hacker ethic, “flame wars,” and the difficulty females face when receiving adequate recognition for contributions. Many women choose not to participate.

7) If you’re hiring a manager or a team lead, have you included “Experience hiring and leading diverse teams” in the job description? Doing so will send a strong message and help attract people who care about diversity, some of whom may be from underrepresented groups themselves.

And last but not least, here are some ideas for diversifying your Candidate Pool:

8) Ask employees to recommend women and underrepresented people they’ve worked with before. Encourage them to dig deep into their networks if they have to.

9) Offer a referral bonus for these candidates, or a larger amount if you have a referral bonus program already in place. It will encourage people to dig even deeper into their networks, in case #8 isn’t working.

10) Recruit from non-traditional places, like Historically Black Universities (HBUs), coding bootcamps, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) conferences, women-in-tech meetups, etc.

That’s it. Ten everyday actions a hiring manager can take to diversify a hiring pipeline.

And the next time you hear someone blaming a lack of diversity on their pipeline, ask them “Are you even trying?” And point them to this article.

A note of appreciation to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) for their work on best practices on hiring diverse candidates. We leveraged this report and this report for our article.

Becoming an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

Together, we can — and will — make a difference.