HR tech is amazing equalizer in quest for diversity and inclusion

Gradient's managing director says even with the best of intentions, implicit biases may sneak into the resume selection of even the most well-intentioned of managers.

Are We There Yet?
Pauline Oudin
Managing Partner
Gradient

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

Just a few months ago one of the young women on our team asked for a meeting and was clearly petrified when she announced the happy news of her pregnancy. What should have been a source of celebration and joy was instead a necessary moment of reassurance and deescalating. This woman had clearly proven her worth to our company, but she was still concerned for her job security and her career prospects. 

We are still a growing agency, and as such, we are not obligated to offer the miserly FMLA requirements of just keeping the job open for 12 weeks. And in our creative industry, as brands seek out fresh creativity from the smaller agencies instead of the large behemoths of the past, our industry’s talent -- especially the younger talent -- will not have those protections previously offered by the large HR departments. So that initial fear-based reaction is understandable. But it shouldn’t be acceptable. 

As it turns out, our leadership team is very family-friendly and we wanted nothing more than to support her as well as all of our future parents. We want to support women in general, and working mothers in particular, so we researched what the industry standard was, and more than doubled that! But other young growth-centric agencies may not have taken the time to think about these essential policies. And that will in turn further affect the gender diversity of the teams. 


How about something that proves we’re making progress?

In the world of HR, technology can truly be an amazing equalizer. After all, even with the best of intentions, implicit biases may sneak into the resume selection of even the most well-intentioned of managers. 

But thanks to the right technology tools, pre-selections based on pre-qualifying surveys and personality fit assessments, allow for a selection of the top five percent of considered candidates before we’ve even  met the person or reviewed their demographics. From there, the quality of the work will be the determining factor, but we know that we’ve already brought in the very best regardless of gender, race or anything else, which is exactly how it should be.


What else needs to be done to get there?

Repetition. It might seem obvious, but no matter how much you care and no matter how much you want to do the right thing, when you are growing really fast, it’s hard to keep your softer objectives in line with hard-numbered objectives. As I see it, having clearly-stated goals and rules that are systematically repeated to management and also to the team, may be the only way to instill these habits. 

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