Pandora's Director of Recruiting Marvin Stickel talks getting rid of profile-centric hiring criteria, and explains his experience leading Google's first diversity focused sourcing team.
00:45 Rob Stevenson: Hello, my dear sweet wonderful recruiting pals. It's me, Rob Stevenson here, at the helm of Hiring on All Cylinders, and we have triumphantly returned to our studio at Entelo HQ. I, myself, just got back from Seattle. That's right, San Fransisco's cooky aunt who can't wait for you to visit and has loads of fun ideas and activities planned, where I was stationed for the #Talent42 conference, and it was a gas. Great show, I met some old podcast guests. Jen Boulanger of Booking.com, she was... Loni is putting up her arms like "what?"
01:13 Loni Spratt: She was there?
01:14 RS: She was on a panel, yeah. She spoke.
01:16 LS: What?
01:16 RS: Yeah.
01:16 LS: She didn't tell me she was coming this way!
01:18 RS: Yeah. Yeah, yeah she was... She's awesome. She spoke alongside one of the heads of talent for Uber and director of recruitment for Zillow and she was wonderful. Brought the house down. Her whole "Recruiting is a village" thing, that I love to... I love to steal and repurpose in my own interviews with people. Met some podcast fans as well, which absolutely made my week, so shout out to all of you who said something. I appreciated it. And Loni, by the time this goes live, it will have been a while since you kinda caught us up on what's going on with our noble Entelo users. So what's happening over there on the customer success side of things?
01:52 LS: So, I think a lot of our customers right now are going through this transition. Many of them are having their hiring forecast change. We're midway through the year, and I was talking with one particular customer, I actually had lunch with him on Monday, and they were supposed to be hiring 60 people this year, and they've already hired 20, which is great, but then, you know, found out that you're only, they're only gonna be hiring 30 this year, so only 10 more to go for the rest of the year.
02:22 RS: That's good news.
02:24 LS: So less work, but then also slower growth for the year as well.
02:28 RS: Sure, yeah.
02:28 LS: So I think a lot of users and recruiters and sourcers, they are just trying to figure out what the rest of the year looks like. Kind of doing that mid-year planning, and kind of seeing what does that mean for their team, especially teams that are growing and hiring more recruiters and sourcers. How many do they need to hire? So it's a lot of planning that's happening right now.
02:49 RS: So, is there a possibility that you kind of recruit yourself out of a job if you do so well in the first half of the year, and they're like "Oh wait, well we filled all these roles and now we wanna pump the brakes a little bit"?
03:01 LS: Well, sometimes, there are some companies where they know their hiring is seasonal and so they know they're slowing down their hiring, but they know that great recruiters are really hard to come by.
03:14 RS: Totally.
03:14 LS: So they have recruiters where they're like "Okay, we don't need you to recruit anymore, so we're going to, you know, task you with "special projects" to do for the rest of the year," and so some of these recruiters are now going to be doing for the rest of the year like these operations, infrastructure things.
03:36 RS: Dive into metrics maybe.
03:37 LS: Dive into metrics, maybe they're working on branding initiatives, planning events for later in the year, because they know that for the rest of this year maybe their hiring's gonna be slow, but then come early next year, it's gonna ramp up again, and they don't wanna have to go and hire and find more recruiters.
03:55 RS: Gotcha, it makes sense. Well, also among the friends of the podcast I met in Seattle was Maisha Cannon, sourcer over at GitHub, who many of you hopefully will remember from a previous episode, and after she made her debut, she passed me along the contact info of one Marvin Stickel who was her boss at Google where he led a diversity and engineering sourcing team. Currently, he's the principal sourcer at Pandora, and currently, he's sitting right next to me.
04:20 Marvin Stickel: Hello, I'm here!
04:20 RS: Marvin.
04:21 MS: Yes.
04:22 RS: Thanks for being here.
04:22 MS: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me. Thank you Maisha, thank you.
04:25 RS: Shout out to Maisha of course.
04:26 MS: Always.
04:28 RS: So, I have like a million thing I wanna ask you about your, your D&I work at Google, and since then.
04:33 MS: Cool.
04:34 RS: But first I just kinda wanna catch up on, let's hear a little bit about yourself, what you're working on at Pandora, what the big challenges are, that whole thing.
04:42 MS: Right, so at Pandora, I wear a couple of hats. I first and foremost, a 100% bought into diversity and inclusion from a staffing perspective. I'm a diversity champion through and through. So I do a lot of that. I'm building overarching strategies, for all of our staffing teams, working with recruiting and sourcing to develop kinda tactical ways to go after under-represented minorities, and I'm sure we'll get into that. And then also, I spend a lot of time sourcing data scientists. Looking for PhDs, so sort of a shameless plug if you will.
05:19 RS: Yep.
05:20 MS: If you're a PhD data scientist, find me on LinkedIn. I'd love to talk to you.
05:24 RS: I think we have a lot of PhD data scientists in the show.
05:26 MS: Yeah, I think, yeah. Is that right? Okay good. Yeah, well, holler at me. I would love to talk to you. But yeah, those are my two big deals over at Pandora.
05:33 RS: So data science comes up a lot as, like the hardest role to hire for time and time again.
05:38 MS: Definitely. Yeah, it's a high level role. I think that directors and hiring managers are alike, are very, very specific with the kind of folks they'd like in a role like this. Pandora, our product, it's very recommender systems heavy, as you can imagine. Very science heavy, a lot of data. User data, song data, artist data. A lot of stuff to funnel through. Ads data, predictive modeling, thumbs up, thumbs down, behavioral type stuff, so a lot of fun stuff for scientist to do if you're interested.
06:08 RS: Right. So how do you go about hiring for that role in comparison to other roles you've hired for, if this is like a uniquely challenging one?
06:17 MS: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge here is sort of specific pillar experience. So let say you work at Amazon, which is a great company. If you're not on their ads team that may not relate to some of the things that we have on our ads team. You know what I mean? All right, so I think the further up you go in the scientist chain, at least in my experience, it can get a little bit nichey. I think that the longer you're in the industry, unless you're someone that's consciously diversifying your portfolio within the sciences you sort of become the ads guy. You become the recommended system's women, that can happen and it does happen a lot. So, what we're looking for a lot of the time is someone that can cast a more wide net I think. Maybe, a larger suite of skills, if I may.
07:07 RS: Okay.
07:07 MS: I like to use the word suite whenever possible. S-U-I-T-E.
07:11 RS: I've been running up Entelo as a product suite since I joined three years ago, hasn't caught on yet.
07:16 MS: Product suite as a combination is incredible, good for you.
07:19 LS: Probably, 'cause we have two products.
07:23 RS: It just how big the suite was. How many is a suite, who's to say?
07:23 LS: I don't know if it qualifies as a suite. Well, is it like two is a couple...
07:32 RS: Three is company, four is a suite. I think this is how this thing goes.
07:34 MS: Something else that's not gonna catch on I think.
07:37 RS: Oh man! Speaking of things aren't catching on, [07:39] ____ you see about this one. I ran this up the poll today for new H1 copy for the website. Recruit like Daenerys Targaryen, not Jon Snow.
07:48 MS: Wow!
07:48 RS: If either of you watch Game... I don't know.
07:49 MS: That's got references right there.
07:52 LS: I'm not huge Game of Thrones, but...
07:54 RS: Okay, yeah. Hopefully there are listeners who get that, otherwise I'm just falling on flat ears.
08:00 MS: I liked it.
08:01 RS: In that case, it was for you Marvin, now's it worth it.
08:03 MS: If you impact one person they say and that happened?
08:07 RS: I love it. So, your advice to recruiters working to... All right, I'm so sorry, companies committed to "a profile centric hiring model."
08:16 MS: Yes.
08:17 RS: Is burn it down.
08:19 MS: Yes.
08:20 RS: So, softball question.
08:22 MS: I love this.
08:23 RS: First of all, what is it, why is it bad?
08:25 MS: Gotcha, let's talk diversity. I love it. So, a profile centric staffing model or hiring model I should say is when a recruiter goes and sits down with a hiring manager and they say, "give me a Java Engineer with seven years of experience that went to one of these four schools and maybe worked at a competitor." And it could get more nichey than that, it doesn't really matter. And then you're asked to go and find that profile. Now, the problem with that is just inherently, it's not inclusive. Immediately, you're cutting people out. It's what you do immediately when you dwindle it down to schools or competitive companies, right? Especially when you're thinking about under-represented minorities that you wouldn't have reached anyway. You're certainly cutting your pool down even further.
09:17 RS: Right. And the response to that I think Zack [09:20] ____ Izinson mentioned this, it's kind of... He said, he'd come up against that, he goes, "All right well, if you only want someone from these dozen schools but I give you someone from Middle Tennessee University and they are this and they have killed it these last two roles, would you talk to him?" "Yeah of course. All right, well, then that's nice to have. It's not like an actual thing, which was just like a one move checkmate.
09:41 MS: I love that. And I can't encourage recruiters enough to have those kind of... Good for him. To have those kind of conversation at the hiring manager level. A lot of times, it's easy to point the finger. It happens both ways when you think about inclusion hiring but I think that a good qualified healthy conversation goes a long long way.
09:58 RS: Absolutely. So how can recruiters go about, as you say, burning it down.
10:04 MS: Burning it down. So, in my experience and this has been with almost every company I've worked with and you talked to Maisha already, I have a lot of my sort of a figurative sons and daughters working all throughout the valley, spreading the gospel hopefully in the right way. But the feedback that I always get is that it's relatively the same. When they're asked by either by their manager or a hiring manager, go and find this kind of person for me. And I think that if that's the culture of your company, it's really, really hard to change. I know it's a little bit extreme to use a phrase like 'burn it down.' When you think about the two options of, maybe educating everyone and trying to get folks to understand maybe all the nuts and bolts of changing this little small piece of your interview process or this way that you review resumes. It actually may make more sense to start from scratch. It just catch that thing, wipe the white board clean. So that's what I mean.
11:02 RS: And so, does that look like getting hiring managers and interview people into a room and saying like, "Here's what's going on on interviews, here's why, these other candidates are good for this as well."?
11:11 MS: Yes, it had to be data centric. At the end of the day, I think the only way things like that change are, top down? So you wanna grab... Get your data together, always, rule number one. If you have anecdotal stories that makes sense, candidates that were, maybe passed up at some point of your interview process or review process that ended up working at your competitor and is doing great, make sure you have all those things in your arsenal. And most of us know a case or two like that I would imagine. Take that to your leadership, and be able to talk about those things, in detail. It may or may not affect how the leadership team will look at your hiring process but at least you'll get the ball rolling. As I mentioned before, conversation is really, really healthy and the only way anything like this changes is through really good healthy conversation.
11:57 RS: So, that would look like going up, not just to the hiring manager but maybe whoever the most senior people, work your way up the chain, you can get in a room and say, "Hey, is this an important initiative in our organization?" Hopefully they say yes.
12:10 MS: And that's the coolest thing about 2016 is that I think most companies, especially here in The Valley, have explicit diversity goals.
12:17 RS: Right.
12:17 MS: We're all talking about the importance of this, how important it is to technical culture, and to all of our different companies. So this is the time to load your gun up and have those conversations and work your way up. And I'm not saying skip your manager, or your manager's manager. It's quickest [12:33] ____ way on the street...
12:35 MS: Keep your job, but have those good qualified conversations, and continue to bring those to the attention of people who can impact change.
12:42 LS: When it comes to inclusion, so say you're able to get the diversity piece right in terms of sourcing, and interviewing, and hiring, what are some things that you found in talking with hiring managers and convincing them around the inclusion side of things? What have you seen work? At the Green House Open Conference... Forgive me, I forget who said this quote, but when I heard it I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's great!" They were saying when you think of diversity and inclusion, I think they were being asked to define it, and someone said, "Diversity is being invited to the ball, inclusion is being asked to dance."
13:16 MS: Right.
13:17 LS: Which I was like "Oh that's... "
13:17 RS: That's really good, yeah.
13:18 LS: That's really good...
13:19 MS: I love that.
13:21 LS: So what are some ways that companies are tackling...
13:26 MS: I see.
13:26 LS: Inclusion? Specifically at the hiring manager side of things. Recruiters have a lot of impact, I think, when it comes to the sourcing, and the recruiting, and bringing the right people in, and convincing the hiring managers to give these people a shot and take a chance. But once they're there and they're hired, what can you do for inclusion?
13:46 MS: So, at the hiring manager level, it's not simple. To me, it's the hardest level. I've said this over and over again. Changing attitudes at a hiring level is a cultural shift, which is the hardest thing to change. But I think Rob alluded to this earlier, it's really about just bringing those examples to the table, not being afraid to have those conversations. I can't tell you how many times we've passed on a candidate, at any company that I've been at, and they end up going some place else and doing great work, or that we've missed on a candidate, who's still not working at a company here in The Valley, and they end up working at Walmart Headquarters in Arkansas, and they're fine, but never had an opportunity to work here in The Valley. But those are really great, smart, intelligent people.
14:35 MS: And it's a deep conversation. It's looking at curriculum, it's looking at all the different ways that we're built to not include, and then bringing those examples to the table. It doesn't always work. Hiring managers aren't always receptive to change, lack of a better phrase. Most of these companies, mine included, are doing well, so why change our culture of hiring? It doesn't make sense. And a lot of these, especially on the technical side, you don't wanna slow down a rolling ball, by any means. So those conversations can be very difficult. But we're not talking about just simply checking boxes. We're talking about changing perspectives, we're talking about improving products by bringing in different kinds of people. And the formula that I've always thought about when it comes to this... And Rob, I think you may know about this already... But it's pretty simple. It's staffing, recruiting, sourcing, A, plus hiring manager buy-in, which is, as I mentioned the most difficult... I won't even act like it's not... Plus executive level buy-in, which is what I was mentioning earlier. It almost has to come top down for a hiring manager's attitude to really, really change. That's how you change your pipeline, that's how you change your hiring practices, but those conversations just have to be had.
15:54 RS: So as you say, that can be a difficult, uncomfortable conversation. Nobody wants to be told that, "Hey, you are being unreasonably exclusive." So obviously, first up, have your data. How else can recruiters go about packaging this I guess to maintain an air of diplomacy...
16:16 MS: Absolutely.
16:17 RS: Because you don't want to put people on their back foot, right?
16:19 MS: Yeah, it's not about passing blame around, by any means. It's a cultural shift again, so it's just about educating your hiring manager about what really everyone's trying to accomplish. If there's no other data to rely on, look at all of our hiring numbers. We're not doing it right. No one has the blueprint to do this right, so none of should feel like we're sticking our flag in the ground and saying, "This is how you hire under-represented minorities." None of us are doing that at the level that we should be.
16:50 MS: So those kinds of conversations, I think, would have a lot of impact. It's really easy to say, "Hey, staffing, fill your pipeline up with more of these folks, and we'll hire more." But I know from my own experience that that's not how it works. It's just not. If anything, you leave a lot of folks burned and with a bad taste in their mouth about the interview processes that we have in all of our technical companies. What you really wanna do is... If I could start an organization from scratch, I would always start unconscious bias training, hiring practices, resume review, all of that stuff at the hiring manager level first because getting candidates, to me, and again I'm a recruiter by trade, is the easiest piece. Getting 'em interested in our companies is really easy. Getting 'em through our interview process is the toughest thing.
17:40 RS: Why is that?
17:42 MS: How much time do you got?
17:44 RS: About 25 minutes.
17:45 MS: Okay, and I wanna get into the diversity thing too. So when I'm talking about diversity, it's really easy to immediately make that adjacent to the idea of under-represented minorities. That's not necessarily how I feel, but for the sake of this conversation, we're talking about under-represented minorities in tech. Fair?
18:06 RS: Sure.
18:07 MS: Okay. The numbers are out there. Easy to find. Folks that come from under-represented minority groups for the most part if they're in-tech, they don't have a profile that meets what we're looking to hire, especially here in the Valley. They're doomed to lose from the very beginning. Now, I mentioned the curriculum piece, because most of our interview processes are built on curriculums also. Folks that help build interview panels and the way that we talk to our folks from a technical stand point, come from very specific backgrounds. So it really becomes the chicken and the egg. So the Stanford example that I use a lot, I know that's... All the founders at Google are Stanford folks, anyone that interviews at Google for a software engineering position, let's say, and happened to go to Stanford, will always have a leg up on someone who didn't. Just based on, again, pure culture. Historical, traditional, this is how we like our engineers, obviously.
19:10 MS: And that sort of transcended more than a decade of their history. And every company is like that, I don't mean to pick on those guys. But let's say you went to, what school you say earlier? Middle Tennessee State?
19:22 RS: Yeah. [chuckle]
19:23 MS: You could be the absolute best computer scientist in the history of Middle Tennessee State, you cannot compete with the bottom third of Standford computer scientists. So that's why we have to Etch-A-Sketch the whole thing. A lot of what I wanna do in general is all based at the interview process. I wanna look at candidates differently. I wanna be able to rely more on faculty information, I wanna rely more on applicable, role-related, experience and acumen. And I think that we've all gotten away from that. When you think about the rubrics that most of our companies use on tech, it's not always directly related to what we're doing on a day-to-day basis.
20:06 RS: So you're saying university recruiting is like a name brand thing?
20:11 MS: I think it's our biggest area of opportunity. I really do. I think that it shouldn't be a name brand thing. I think that what we should be doing in a big fell swoop, changing the way all of our companies look, at that level.
20:24 RS: So the solution there is better assessment, deeper assessment of university students?
20:30 MS: And different. Not to mention different.
20:34 LS: Yeah, I was gonna make a note, I ran a webinar this week, with Kat here from our marketing team, on internships, setting up internship programs, and towards the end we talked about diversity. And I listed all of the... And there's bestcolleges.org or something, that put out a lot of these lists of schools. And it'll say, "Here, I had one slide where I said, here are the lists of the most frequently recruited out of universities for interns". And then on the other slide was, "Here are the most diverse colleges in America. Are you recruiting and hiring interns and new grads out of these colleges". And just something to think about, right? These universities have great people and they are the most diverse colleges so why aren't we making an effort to go to their career fairs and recruit out of those colleges starting from there?
21:31 RS: Exactly, it just plays into what you were saying earlier, Marvin, about the whole profile-centric thing, it's like if this is the cookie cutter shape of what you think you want, then you're never gonna get someone who's different from that.
21:42 MS: The fact that that list exists and every company has it, let's target these schools, or let's look at these... Like these are the competitors that we should be pulling from here, is just a byproduct of the entire thing. It just keeps the ecosystem going over and over and over again.
21:56 RS: Yup, it's a vicious cycle.
21:58 MS: It really is.
22:00 RS: So, I'm just really curious to hear about life at Google, while we're kind of dancing around them specifically and the whole Stanford thing. So you were charged with a diversity sourcing team for engineers.
22:14 MS: Correct.
22:14 RS: So can you just kinda walk me through, what your appointment there, what your goals were, even the internal mentality as much as you can speak to that, would be fascinating.
22:25 MS: Yeah, yeah and I wanna be careful here because I like those guys and I think that they're gonna do incredible things, but this is just my own experience. So, I started at Google as a contractor, like most sourcers/recruiters do. My competitive advantage that first year was simply to put my head in the sand and just out grind everybody. I didn't ride a bike, not a bike, I didn't go to a gym, I only had one lunch, one lunch a day. [chuckle] I was one of those guys, just one lunch a day.
22:58 MS: But no, I really tried to grind it out, and I would be at work, hopefully, earlier than most other folks would and I would stay later and I just really tried to create huge pipelines. And then nine, 10 months in, I was given the opportunity to become a full-time employee, so it worked out. But when I pulled my head out like an Ostrich, and I looked around, I was just kind of skeeved out, to be 100% honest. And a gift and the curse of my personality, and I've had this since I was 11 years old, is I say what I think. Sometimes its great, sometimes it'll bite you right in the ass. So in this case, I grabbed my new manager, and I said, "Hey, we've been talking about lack of diversity at every all-hands since I've been here". So it'd be four at that point, and "Is anybody gonna do something about it? Are we just gonna talk about it? This company, if any company can take a huge swing here it'd be us. Let's do something". And I'll always give them credit for this, they said "Marv, you do something".
24:01 MS: Okay, so I started creating decks, started trying some stuff getting my hands slapped by legal and eventually put together a little task force. In that first year we established that, we were terrible like everybody else was. And we had this huge just depository of flamed-out candidates that on paper should have done better. So I made it my life's mission for those next, whatever it was, five plus years to not only engage more under-represented minorities, because it was the right thing to do, but also look internally at, "What are we doing to make sure that we are setting folks up for success?" Not just these folks but all folks, because that's what inclusivity is. Let's open our arms and figure out how to get the best people in here and also qualify best, which is a never ending battle also.
24:57 RS: Sure.
24:58 MS: So that's what we did, we built programs, most staffing teams don't do that. We really tried to look at candidates differently. We shepherded candidates through coaching programs, and getting hiring managers involved at different levels. We had, in my humble opinion, some pretty great success. When you look back at it, sort of unfortunate truth is... Google was growing so fast. We couldn't put a dent, in the overarching numbers. Their staffing team, just in software engineering is monstrous. So as the rest of the folks, outside of my little 12, 13, 20 person team were all working on just getting the best software engineers in the world. Which again on paper is MIT, Carnegie Melon, Standford etcetera, etcetera. My folks are going after, sort of the needle in the needle stack, and doing a great job of it, while also educating our hiring managers but just obviously at a slower clip. So, regardless of the amount of success we had in exponential hiring year over year, the last thing I heard was something like a 180% just in my group, of an increase year over year. We just couldn't make any sort of impact, unfortunately. Not large enough where you would see it in the percentages.
26:19 RS: Well, that's the thing, Google is in what 60,000, 80,000 person company?
26:23 MS: Yes, 60,000 when I left, so...
26:25 RS: You hire 800 black engineers, that's a ton of people in one room. But as far as the corporation is concerned, it's doesn't move the needle.
26:32 MS: It doesn't move the needle, which we heard all the time. Again, those programs are great. And to see those things grow into fruition and actually spurn and grow into other teams, we had really focused teams which were great. It's a constant debate about sort of centralized sourcing efforts when it comes to this stuff versus Utopia, which is everybody just knows how to hire under-represented minorities better just as a recruiting organization, everyone is just good at it and it's a part of their day to day. But for a centralized effort, I thought we did incredible work. And from what I understand, it continues till this day.
27:10 RS: That's amazing, first of all congratulations for sort of kicking that off. And...
27:13 MS: Yeah. Thanks man.
27:15 RS: And getting slapped in the wrist by legal, that's when you know you're on to something, right?
27:19 MS: That's right. Absolutely.
27:21 RS: So, you mentioned that the growth was so spectacular that you couldn't afford for there to be a drop in the people you were adding. Even if it might take longer to find people that are from an under-represented group. So, how do you keep moving fast and hitting those aggressive goals if your sourcing gets more specific and harder to clue in on certain people?
27:44 MS: Yeah, I don't know if I know that answer Rob, to be 100% honest with you. It will take a village to allow this point, I think that it's the only way that it works. The formula that I was mentioning to you guys before, you need every aspect of that running at full cylinder. And I, ve seen each of them run on their own at a really high clip and see some success. But if you're missing any one of those things, and again that's a strong staffing organization committed to this kind of work. Hiring managers that understand what we're trying to accomplish, and use different lenses and you can come back to that too, and an executive level that's gonna back up everything you wanna do, and wave the flag at how important this is to your organization. There's no other way to really do it. Everyone is not committed equally, you can't move the dial.
28:35 RS: What did you mean by lenses?
28:37 MS: So it's really easy to say, because I hear this all the time, "I don't want to lower the bar." Right? Which drives me crazy.
28:43 RS: Explicitly. We've heard that direct quote coming through, yeah.
28:44 MS: Of course. If you're a recruiter, [laughter] you've heard that quote before. And I used to hear it all the time because we were bring in candidates that again, didn't meet the profile these folks were used to seeing. So, "Yeah, not usually what I like to see, I don't wanna lower the bar." "I don't want to give someone a chance that wouldn't have had a chance otherwise... " stuff like that. It's gross.
29:09 RS: That comment, the "Who wouldn't have had a chance otherwise?" Look inward. Why would they have now had a chance otherwise?
29:16 MS: So in the beginning when I was first building this stuff out, it was really easy for me to say, "What a gross thing to say." But what you actually find out is that it's a cultural thing. These folks were trained by someone before them that said, "This is how we hire, this is what we should be looking for." So it's not necessarily any one particular person's fault, regardless of how that moment makes you feel. But when I say lenses, I literally mean that. Can you look at a resume of someone from... Baltimore, Maryland County... Maryland, Baltimore County?
29:51 RS: Probably Baltimore, Maryland.
29:53 MS: Baltimore, Maryland County. Let's do that.
29:55 RS: I'll silently Google it later and then I'll edit out which one was right.
29:58 MS: Yeah. I did both, right? So we'll figure it out. Thank you. But again, the best kid from there, or let's just say an average kid, I hate to keep using the best thing because I feel like that's a cop out also. But someone who's a strong computer scientist. You look at that resume and your mind is trained to say, "No, pass. No." But what if that person is an incredible fit for your group? What if that person is gonna bring a perspective to your product that you wouldn't have had otherwise? It's too easy to dismiss these folks. That's what I mean by a different lenses. Can you take a step back, actually have a qualified conversation with someone? Change the questions that you're asking, not the level, just the questions. Because it's not this person's fault that they went to a school that doesn't have the same curriculum as Stanford. It's not their fault.
30:50 LS: It's like changing, they say I don't wanna lower the bar, but it's changing the definition of what the bar is. You have to start there.
30:56 MS: Absolutely.
30:57 RS: Yup. So, we've said the diversity word a bunch of times in the last half hour. It's something that you kind of decry as a meaningless buzz word. Why don't you like it? How can recruiters better frame the conversation when that term comes up?
31:19 MS: Got it.
31:20 RS: Yeah. What's the... How does that turn into affirmation of an impactful process?
31:25 MS: So, I've grown to abhor the word 'diversity' and I'll tell you why. It's become a bastardized version of it's original intent. And the intent was great, "Let's get some different people in here." I get it. Perfect. But when you think about diversity now, and that's across every platform, whether it's in Hollywood or we're in the NBA finals right now, and they're talking about the amount of coaches or executives in the NBA team. Across the board you just automatically assume or associate it with under-represented minorities, and of course a part of that is true. But when I think diversity, and when I really got into this work, I was thinking about just different perspectives like how do we get... If you're working at Twitter and, man, some huge percentage of your user base is African-American, why wouldn't you want black engineers on your team? I don't get it. They're just gonna understand that user base in a way that you guys won't.
32:25 RS: Cosmo is made of primarily female writers because that makes sense.
32:28 MS: Right. But that makes sense. Absolutely. Nailed it. That's exactly right. But for the rest of our companies we have this huge group, very diverse different groups of users, why not think about how our products will be better by just having different perspectives? When I think of diversity, that's what I think of. So inclusion is the piece where I think about "Okay, let's get some under-represented minorities in here" but ideologically I worry about that too. Don't get me wrong, I am 100% on board with that effort. But I don't wanna check boxes.
33:01 RS: Is it also because it's kind of a limited definition of diversity?
33:05 MS: Absolutely.
33:06 RS: So, diversity encapsulates different education, veterans, handicaped...
33:12 LS: Ages.
33:13 MS: Ages. Absolutely. And I think we've gotten away from that. I think it's become too easy to associate it immediately with gender and ethnicity and there's so much more. So, again, the intent is great, but I worry about that. But ideologically, I was thinking about his in the Uber on the way over here, these numbers are all public. Every single one of us at this point are pretty much sharing our demographic numbers publicly, which is a great exercise. Could be embarrassing, but good. We are all in it together.
33:41 RS: Good for a start.
33:41 MS: Yup. We are all in it together. We all suck at it. This is what we look like, we're gonna work on it. Now we have to work on it. And I'll come back to that in a second also. But I think about what happens when we get to 7% Hispanic software engineers at LinkedIn, do you stop? It's starting to bother me a little bit. The behavior should be that that's good for the entire company. This perspective is important for our user base. These folks will understand cultures differently. And we live in America where there's so many really diverse cultures. You wanna be able to speak to every single one of them and you can't do that unless you have those folks represented mightily inside your organization.
34:29 RS: So, what should we say instead of "diversity?"
34:34 MS: Good question. When I'm talking about under-represented minorities, I typically say that be specific is the key. I get it.
34:41 RS: That kinda makes people uncomfortable, I think. That's why diversity is propagated as a term 'cause you can just put up that umbrella and hope that people know what's gonna fall under it.
34:50 MS: Yeah. But I worry about it losing it's strength, it's power, it's oomph. I worry about that. Because it is a safe umbrella that anyone can say and I think we all know what we mean but I miss the oomph.
35:02 RS: Yeah. Bring back the oomph.
35:04 MS: More oomph.
35:07 RS: This is the 7% Latino people at LinkedIn, it's similar to another thing I read that you wrote which I found fascinating which was that if you are somewhere and they say... Let's tell the world we wanna get X% of some demographic in this job title, that that's the mistake, [35:26] ____ let's say mistake.
35:28 MS: Correct.
35:28 RS: You kind of skipped that a little bit. Why is that so bad? Is it 'cause like where does it stop? What's the actual goal there?
35:34 MS: Absolutely. It feels grody to me. Does anybody is grody anymore?
35:38 RS: Pretty Mcgrody.
35:39 MS: Yeah.
35:40 MS: It's a couple of hashtags we got going on in this thing. [chuckle] He's probably gonna edit them all out. No, but it does. It feels a little bit... It feels gross to me. I don't like the idea of A] so it's important that we look this way publicly, so this is our goal.
35:54 RS: It's a check box.
35:54 MS: It's checking a box. When again the behavior should be this is good for our product. Don't stop at 7% Latino. If you can get to 7% Latino number one, God bless you. Good for you. Show me how you did that.
36:06 RS: Right.
36:06 MS: But secondly, I don't like the idea that you're gonna celebrate at the end of the year because, "Hey, we hired X amount of people for Y job family." That drives me crazy.
36:21 RS: Yeah, it's like a meaningless gold star that you're putting on your own fridge at home. Being like, "Hey look. Everyone look. We have 7% Latino engineers."
36:28 MS: Right.
36:28 RS: Bring on the praise. It's like, "Why did you do that? Did you get that so you could say you had 7% or was it so your business can be driven by different perspectives?"
36:35 MS: So that's what I worry about. And if it's the second, great, by all means have that party, enjoy your gold star. But if it's the first which is what I fear then I don't think it's the right behavior.
36:45 LS: It's like revenue with companies.
36:46 MS: Yeah.
36:47 LS: Our goal was to hit this revenue and we hit it in October, do we all go home and...
36:51 MS: Yeah exactly.
36:51 LS: And not come back for three months?
36:52 MS: Exactly, right.
36:56 RS: Marvin, I've been on the edge of my seat this whole time, absolutely had a blast chatting with you.
37:01 MS: Thanks man.
37:02 RS: Normally, at this point in the show I like stumble through a conclusion sum up of what everything we talked about. And I think I'm gonna stop doing that because it's impossible for me to look back at 40 minutes of mind-blowing stuff and actually say something that's not just me stumbling. So the TLDR of this episode is go back and listen to it again because it was awesome.
37:23 MS: Thanks man. And thanks for inviting me again. This was fun. Always happy to talk diversity and inclusion.
37:27 RS: Yeah, happy to have you here. Love the work you're doing. Amazing important stuff so yeah, come back anytime. This is a blast.
37:34 MS: Appreciate that man. And we talk about Twitter earlier, right? I share my very dark thoughts @PandoraAssMarv at Twitter.
37:43 RS: Awesome.
37:44 MS: Yeah.
37:45 RS: Go follow @PandoraAssMarv.
37:48 RS: Send them those favs and retweets. Gotta have those internet points. Follow @EnteloRob do it. Follow Loni Spratt.
37:53 MS: Boom!
37:53 RS: I need those followers. All right, from everyone here at Entelo and Hiring on All Cylinders, once more you've been wonderful magnificent recruiters. I've been Rob Stevenson. Have a spectacular week and happy hunting.