The New York Times had an article regarding hiring practices and succession practices at Google, and G*d knows if Google is doing it, it must be important, and we all must try and do the same thing. What I liked about this article was it didn’t necessarily look at practices and processes, it looked at data. The data found that Google, like almost every other large company, does a crappy job hiring and promoting women.
Shocking, I know, if you’re a man! We had no idea this was going on! In America of all places… Beyond the obvious, though, Google was able to dig into the data and find out the whys and make some practical changes that I think most companies can implement, and that I totally agree with. From the article:
“Google’s spreadsheets, for example, showed that some women who applied for jobs did not make it past the phone interview. The reason was that the women did not flaunt their achievements, so interviewers judged them unaccomplished.
Google now asks interviewers to report candidates’ answers in more detail. Google also found that women who turned down job offers had interviewed only with men. Now, a woman interviewing at Google will meet other women during the hiring process.
A result: More women are being hired.”
Here are two selection facts that impact both men and women:
1. We like to surround ourselves with people who we like, which usually means in most cases people who are similar to ourselves.
2. We tend not to want to brag about our accomplishments, but our society has made it more acceptable for men to brag.
This has a major impact to your selection, and most of you are doing nothing about it. It’s very common that if you run simple demographics for your company, ANY COMPANY, you’ll see that the percentage of your female employees does not come close to the percentage of your female leadership.
Why is that?
Here are two things you can do to help make the playing field more level in your organization:
1. Have women interview women. Sounds a bit sexist in a way, but if you want women to get hired into leadership positions you can’t have them going up against males being interviewed by males because the males will almost always feel more comfortable with another male candidate. Reality sucks, buy a helmet.
2. Ask specific questions regarding accomplishments and take detailed notes. Studies have found woman don’t get hired or promoted because they don’t “sell” or brag enough about their accomplishments giving their male counterparts a leg up, because the males making the hiring decisions now have “ammunition” to justify their decision to hire the male.
Let’s face it, Google is doing it, so now we all have to do it. What would we do without best practices…(maybe innovate and create new better practices – but I digress…).
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@Steve Levy – you make a very valid point. I think a lot of place like Google rely so much on their employment brand and the stream of pro-active applicants that they look at recruiting as more of a candidate processing role.
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I liked the article but in my experience (27 years) I have found female interviewers harder (somewhat) on female candidates than males.
I am not so certain men brag as much as women often self-deprecate.
Tim, I do promote my accomplishments and it took me a lot longer to get promoted than my male counterparts. However my last company, though they had a women in leadership intiative, had women who had their own “sorority”. These women were puppets of the male leaders. They purposely held other women down. This was seen by all the women in our sales team being significant achievers, having their territories taken away and given to new hire Caucasian young men. These territories were cultivated after years of work. These so called female leaders did not know what true team work meant and destroyed a culture for their own egos.
Great post, Tim! I was particularly interested in #2. One question that I ask every candidate is “what is your greatest accomplishment or what are you most proud of and what is your biggest disappointment and/or failure?” The answers to those two questions tell me a lot. First, I look for specificity. Can they clearly articulate a specific time or project or moment and second, accountability. If they cannot name a disappointment or failure they either a) haven’t tried hard enough, b) havent’ worked/lived long enough or c) they’re delusional. As I think about it, I generally tend to get better responses from female candidates, which is great. So, perhaps there’s something to be said about asking the right question, so they don’t feel that they’re bragging about accomplishments?
There is a balance for women who come across with that level of confidence as being arrogant vs. self-assured. Some men still are uncomfortable with that confidence coming from a female, so having that balance is tough.
I really appreciate your take on this issue. It’s very easy to write off an workplace imbalance as “that’s just how it is” and it’s refreshing to see companies recognize that to have a truly equal workplace they need to adjust some ingrained practices – practices that when you step back are skewed in men’s favor.
Again, thank you for your insight – I’m definitely going to pass this article around.
Good discussion, but I think it boils down to selling yourself. Period. Whether you’re a woman or a man. Whether you lost an opportunity to a woman or a man. We’re all responsible for selling ourselves and putting ourselves out there. Ask for the opportunity (job, raise, promotion, recognition); go get it. I don’t care who you are. Good stuff!
Interesting that the article offered no commentary on a subset of #2. Women, while as competent as men when negotiating, are also less inclined to negotiate for themselves and average entry compensation tends to exacerbate gender pay disparity. Women being offered a position would be more engaged as employees if they knew more about the legitimacy of past successful negotiations instead of learning what they might have done after on-boarding.
Tim, didn’t Google toss out their old screening process because they finally realized it was not very effective at identify future successful employees?
Does it strike anyone as odd that Google did not use Google to learn about successful hiring techniques before the second decade of the 21st Century.
The two things that can be done is one thing short.
#3 Assess all job finalists for job talent before the job offer is made which is recommend by Lou Adler and it works to avoid bad hires.
Tim, the solution is really quite simple: Hire (or train) recruiters how to actually interview. Frightening how so many of the “great” tech companies have some of the worst recruiters who simply take answers at face value.
Recruiters can ask the “best” questions but if they don’t know how (and how far) to drill down, how to read the nuances in the voice, body language, skin tone, pupil dilation, etc., they simply will not be able to find that pot of gold.
Recruiters – you simply do not have ESP. Recruiting is hard work and there aren’t any shortcuts.
Fantastic article, #2 is spot on. In our phone screens we ask “tell me something professionally you are proud of achieving/doing” candidates find that question very difficult. It’s OK to brag on yourself in an interview…tell me why you are the candidate of choice!