3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

One of the biggest biases we have as leaders is ageism. If you’re 35 years old and running a department and you are looking to fill a position on your team that will be your righthand person, the last thing you’re looking for is a 55-year-old to fill that spot! That’s just me being real for a second.

You and I both know that 35-year-old hiring manager is looking for a 25 – 28 year old to fill that spot

That’s mainly because at 35 you’re still basically stupid. I was. You were. We think 35ish is the pinnacle of all knowledge, but it’s really when we just start learning for real.

So, we have this core issue to deal with in workplaces right now. Our leaders are mostly Millennial and GenX, and Millennials are increasing into these roles at a rapid rate. Because of the Boomers leaving in large amounts, there aren’t enough talented young workers to replace the knowledge gap that is being left. So, we are left grappling with what we think we want (youth) with what really needs (experience!).

A recent study at the University of Minnesota found that employers need to add programs to focus on older workers:

The study argued that programs aimed at training workers won’t be enough to satisfy the state’s need for workers between 2020 and 2030. New policy directives and incentives may be needed, including offering pathways for baby boomers to delay retirement, drawing in workers from other states and supporting immigration from other countries

“There’s all this focus on workforce development, but none of it is guided to older workers,” said Mary Jo Schifsky, whose business, GenSync, advocates for meaningful career pathways for older adults and who helped initiate the study for the Board on Aging with the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “We need career pathways for older workers just as much as we do for younger workers.”
 
In the U survey, managers ranked baby boomers high on loyalty, professionalism, engagement, and their commitment to producing quality work.
Employers need to find ways to extend the Work-Life Cycle of the older employees that work for them until the workforce, technology, and retraining programs can catch up to fill the void. Most employers are only focused on programs that are looking at younger workers.
So, what can you do as an employer to extend the life cycle of your older employees?
1.  Have real conversations with older employees about what they want. Most employers shy away from having the ‘retirement’ conversation with older employees because they think it’s embarrassing or illegal. It’s not. It’s a major reality of workforce planning. “Hey, Mary, Happy 55th Birthday, let’s talk about your future!” Oh, you want to work 18 more years! Nice! Let’s talk about a career path!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t want to hire him because he’s 59 and is going to hire soon.” Well, I spoke to him and he wants to work until he’s 70 (11 years) and our average employee tenure is 4.7 years. I think we’re good!
2. Stop, Stop, Stop, believing that all you can do is hire full and part-time FTEs into roles. If Mary, my 63-year-old financial analyst wants to give me five more years of work, but only wants to work three days per week, in role ‘traditionally’ we’ve only had a full-timer, I’m taking Mary for three days! HR owes it to our organizations and hiring manager to push them out of the box when it comes to schedules and how we have always filled positions. 3 days of Mary is probably worth 3 weeks of an entry-level analyst in the same role!
We do this to ourselves. I hear it constantly from hiring managers, “HR won’t allow me to do that.” Why? Have you asked? No, but HR doesn’t allow us to do anything. We need to come to our hiring managers with solutions and let them see we are open to doing whatever it takes to help the organization meet its people’s needs.
3. Develop programs and benefits specifically designed to retain older employees. I work with a plant manager who developed an entire engineering internship program around having his retired engineers come back and work three days a week with interns and paid them ‘on-call’ wages for the days they weren’t there, so interns could call them with questions at any time. These retired engineers loved it! They could come to do some real work, help out, and still have a great balance.
It went so well, he kept some on all year, on-call, and partnered them with younger engineers who needed the same support and assistance from time to time. The on-call rate was pretty inexpensive, the support and knowledge they got in return, was invaluable.
It all comes down to flexibility on our part as employers to extend the life cycle of our older employees. We no longer have this choice where we can just throw our older employees away and think we can easily replace them. We can’t! There physically isn’t anyone there!
This is about using each other’s strengths. Younger leaders will be stretched and we need to help them stretch. We need to help older employees understand their roles. In the end, we need to find a way where we can all see each other for the strengths we bring to the table, not the opportunities.
It’s our job as HR professionals to work on how we can extend the life cycle of each of our employees.

It’s Really Hard to Judge People!

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown-up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge.  It’s not that face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge.  I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct.  It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, use to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly, and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me like that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not.  What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect.  So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate?  Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that it is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge.  The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judged them on.  It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word.  Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face.  It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision making, even before we know it!

 

Did Your Organization Buy Its Way Out of the #BLM Conversation?

In the wake of the George Floyd killing many of the world’s largest technology companies in the world responded, with their checkbooks. Only one came out, Reddit, and said we will be replacing a white dude on our board, their co-founder, with a person of color.

The amounts of money are impressive, and don’t get me wrong it will definitely take money and resources to change the racial culture that has built over hundreds of years, but the cynic in me believes most of these organizations wrote checks so we wouldn’t take a closer look at their own hiring issues!

  • AIRBNB – $500,000 to NAACP and Black Lives Matter Foundation
  • Google – $12 million to organizations fighting racial inequalities
  • YouTube – $1 million to Center for Policy Equity
  • Amazon – $10 million to ACLU, NAACP, UNCF, etc.
  • Apple – Matching employee contributions to organizations fighting racial injustice
  • Cisco – $5 million to Equal Justice Initiative, Black Lives Matter, and “our own fund for Fighting Racism and Discrimination.”
  • Comcast – $100 million over ten years to fight racial injustice, 1/4 of that in free media
  • Facebook – $10 million to groups working on racial justice
  • Microsoft – $1.5 million to Black Lives Matters Foundation, NAACP, etc.
  • Netflix – $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity
  • Reddit – Co-Founder resigned from the companies board and requested he be replaced with a person of color on the board.
  • Twitter – $3 million to Know Your Rights Foundation
  • Uber – $1 million to Center for Policy Equity

Technology companies aren’t the only organizations buying their way out of this conversation, or even taking advantage of the climate. Nike within days of the Floyd killing released a powerful commercial titled “Just Don’t Do It” it was watched tens of millions of times and shared all over social media as an example of how corporations should respond.

Nike has 8% of people of color in leadership roles. This coming from an organization that makes billions of dollars a year off the backs of black athletes. Thanks for the commercial, how about a public statement of how many POC you’ll hire in leadership positions before the end of 2020?

Here’s the reality.

The money tech companies are giving is nothing. NOTHING! They blow more than this on their annual spending of Kombucha on their plush campuses. These donations are hush money. “Hey, how much do you need not to talk about how crappy we are at actually attracting and hiring POC?”

Here’s what I know. If technology companies, or any major Fortune 100 company, truly wanted to solve this problem over the past decade it would have been done. Let’s say Google decided we want 1/3 of our software developers, or IT team in general to be POC.

Ten years ago they go out to every junior high and middle school in the U.S. They identify black children who have a propensity for being interested in STEM. They send these children to the best STEM high schools, hell, maybe they even make their own high schools in certain cities!

As these kids graduate high school, Google then pays for these kids to go to the best colleges and study stem. They give them annual summer internships at Google, and then once they graduate they hire them. The problem of “we can’t find POC to hire that have the skills we need” is now solved.

What would that cost? $1 billion? $10 billion? What about Amazon? Jeff Bezos and Amazon made $150 billion during the last 3 months of the pandemic! Bill Gates is spending most of his fortune, multi-billions, to end malaria, doesn’t Microsoft need better representation within their organization?

If organizations wanted to solve this issue, it would have been solved. If the government wanted to solve this issue it would have been solved. There is a simple economic solution to ensuring our organizations have proper representation at all levels.

I’m not saying that the donations supporting equity justice initiatives are not important. They are very important, but that can’t be all that is done.

E18 – The HR Famous Podcast – @TorinEllis Going All-in On D&I in 2020!

If you only listen to one podcast this week – it must be this one! If you’ve never listened to a podcast, you must listen to this one. Torin is amazing and this is real conversation.

The HR Famous Crew welcomes in author, SiriusXM radio host, and D&I Talent Strategy expert, Torin Ellis, to talk about how and what organizations can do in light of recent events surrounding the George Floyd killing. Torin delivers both practical advice for organizational leaders, but also directly to HR and TA leaders who have been struggling to move their D&I strategy forward in light of pandemic budget cuts, during what might be the most important time in recent history to be all-in on D&I.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!

1:50 – Welcome to the pod, our special guest Torin Ellis! Jlee and Torin are tired, guys!

2:45 – Tim emceed the Transform HR virtual conference last week so he too is tired.

3:30 – Check out Torin’s podcast Crazy and The King!

5:30 – Is Baltimore different from the rest of Maryland? Jlee’s husband thinks so but Torin defends the great city Baltimore.

7:00 – First topic of the episode: virtual conferencing! Tim discusses Transform HR and the great experience he had last week emceeing the conference.

9:00 – Torin discusses his experience as a keynote speaker at Transform HR the past 2 years and praises the conference for allowing him to use his platform as a keynote speaker to raise awareness and money for causes and to bring humanity to the conference.

12:20 – Insider report: Torin scratched his entire keynote presentation the night before the conference!

13:30 – Tim asks Torin about how he thinks the current the Black Lives Matter movements and protests will affect D&I campaigns within corporations. Torin remains optimistic but wants substantive movement moving forward.

16:00 – Although Nike is often praised for their response to social issues, Nike board member Peter Henry, has said that only 8% of Nike’s VPs are black. Tim references The Prof G Show podcast episode “Slow Thinking”.

18:30 – Jlee and Torin are surprised by Peter Henry’s thought that he didn’t expect a social movement like what we’re seeing today for another ten years. Torin thinks that maybe Henry’s maturity is causing him to be a little out of touch with younger people.

21:20 – Jlee brings up a recent experience she had with a black female team member about being reached out to a lot in the past week by white friends. She asks Torin about the burden and exhaustion black people and other POC are feeling and how to work through it.

23:40 – Torin responds by discussing the bad timing by these people to ask for guidance by their black peers. He recommends for non-black people to go to each other and figure out why such discrimination has happened for many years.

28:00 – Torin encourages everyone to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. Check them out to learn how to be a better ally to POC and about the systemic racism built into every system of our lives in the United States.

32:00 – The topics shift to discuss budget cuts in D&I departments. Tim asks Torin how to see growth in D&I in this time of reductions. Torin believes that organizations that cut their D&I departments now will be behind for many years to come.

34:45 – Tim brings up small changes that organizations can make to promote D&I. Torin advises recruiting from a wider range of schools and breaking the norm from current recruiting patterns.

40:00 – Find Torin on all social media platforms @torinellis and at torinellis.com. Also, check out his show on SiriusXM Channel 126 on Sundays at 1 pm!

Ugh! Being an Inclusive Employer is a Lot of Work!

It seems like being an ‘inclusive’ employer would be super easy! You just accept everyone! Can’t we all just get along!?

The reality is, being an inclusive employer is hard, because being inclusive isn’t about accepting everyone. What!? Oh, great, Tim has finally lost his mind, buckle-up!

I wrote a post about Jeff Bezos’s annual letter and how he lays out a great framework for how organizations and leaders should management performance. Many people liked the post, but there was also a strong reaction from a lot of people who hate Amazon’s culture.

They hear and read media accounts of Amazon being a bad place to work. About Amazon’s hard-charging, work a ton of hours, you don’t have a great work-life balance, etc. Some people go to work for Amazon and tell themselves during the interview process that “yeah, I’ve heard the stories, but I’m different, I want this, I want to be a part of a giant brand like Amazon, I can handle it because it’s a great step in my career.”

That’s when they find out they actually lack self-insight and they should never listen to their inner voice because it lies to them!

So, what does this have to do with ‘inclusion’?

If you truly believe in inclusion, you then believe that Amazon is a great place to work, for those who desire that type of culture. It might not be a culture you would ever choose to work. Amazon actually likes the people that self-select out! It makes their job easier because they don’t want you anyway!

If you stand up and shout Amazon is an awful employer, you don’t understand inclusion. No one forces you to got to work at Amazon, and Amazon does not hide who they are. In fact, Amazon might actually be the best company on the planet to show exactly who they are as an employer and what you’re signing up for if you decide to go to work there.

Amazon is giant and the vast majority of its employees love working for them. Those employees thrive in that environment. It’s what they were looking for. It’s how they are wired. If you put them into another what you might consider, ’employee-friendly’ environment, they would hate it and fail.

Inclusion is hard because it forces you to think in a way that theoretically every environment is potentially a good fit for the right person. We struggle because in our minds something that is opposite of what we want must be bad. Because it’s so hard for us to even consider someone else might actually love an environment we hate.

Being an ‘inclusive’ employer is about accepting all types of people (race, gender, religion, etc.), but it’s also about only accepting all of those people who actually fit the culture you have established. That’s the hard part! Amazon accepts everyone, but you better be ready to go a thousand miles an hour and never stop.

Being an inclusive employer is hard because if it’s done right, it’s not just about being an accepting employer of all, it’s about being accepting and then only picking those candidates who actually fit your culture. The outcome can be awesome. The work to get there can be overwhelming. And if done incorrectly you go from being inclusive to exclusive.

The 1 Factor You Must Have to be an F500 CEO!

It’s not what you think.

Right now you’re sitting there reading this thinking, “I need to know what this is so I can see if I have it or can get it because it’s in my life plan to be an F500 CEO!” You probably are thinking it must something like grit, determination, maybe smarts, attractive looks, or maybe it’s Tim talking about this it’s probably height because he’s a short motherf@cker!

Something truly, statistically interesting has happened over the last 14 years to CEOs of the Fortune 500. It really defies logic.

In 2005 the average age of an F500 CEO was 46 years old. Feels about right. 46 feels like young enough but also old enough all at the same time. The perfect combination of youth and wisdom.

In 2019, do you know what the average age of an F500 CEO was? You would think in 14 years that line would probably stay about the same. Maybe because of all the Baby Boomers leaving the workforce we would see it fall, but probably not too much. If a few Boomers were hanging on, we might see it rise a little, but again, it’s hard to move the average all that much.

In 2019 the average age of an F500 CEO was 59! Basically, over 14 years, the average age went up one year every year! It’s hard to even imagine that could be the case!

So, what’ the one factor you need to be an F500 CEO? 

You need to be a Baby Boomer!

That’s right. Stop going to that Ivy league college and working on your MBA. Don’t worry if you’re ugly or short or fat or female or black or white or a dude. The only thing you really need to be is OLD!

Turns out, big giant companies like Old folks running their company!

Why?

If you are running a multi-billion dollar company, maybe even closing in on a trillion (Trillion is the new Billion!) you don’t want some kid at the wheel. You want someone with seasoning who will tend to be less reactive to major events. They’ll be a bit slower in how they move the company, a bit more conservative in how they manage the assets and resources.

Also, think about what’s happened over the past 15 years. We came out of the great recession. We had this young 45-ish CEO taking the lead in turning us around and putting us back on top. It actually worked! We’ve had this great decade of prosperity! Do you know what companies do when things are going really well? They don’t change anything! Including their CEO!

In fact, many times if the CEO wants to retire, and they trade that CEO in for a younger one, and 12 months in the company is slightly underperforming to expectations, they’ll fire that CEO quickly and bring back the old one to right the ship!

So, 37-year-old Millennial who is chomping at the bit to take over. Calm down and wait until you’re old! You really only have about twenty more years to wait until it’s ‘your time’. That isn’t that long, just 25% or so of your life. You’ll get there, be patient!

Your Weekly Dose of HR Tech: @TryVantagePoint – Virtual Reality Harassment Training!

Today on the Weekly Dose I take a look at the HR technology startup VantagePoint. VantagePoint is a virtual reality(VR) learning technology company that has produced both sexual harassment and diversity and inclusion training, as well as a training metrics dashboard to go along with their VR training.

I’m not sure we are even close to what VR can become in the HR world. Clearly, there is a great use case for it in training and we see organizations are beginning to start testing it, but to this point, it’s still rather uncommon in most organizations. In fact, it’s uncommon in almost every part of our lives. Only 2% of people in the world have ever even tried it! But, it’s growing like crazy, basically doubling in usage every year.

All that said, it’s actually super cool and fun! Now, if you ever had put on a VR headset and did a fly through the grand canyon, or taken a trip on a roller coaster, you could probably see how that might get old, are nauseating, very quickly! If you have watched a live NBA game from the first row at half-court, through VR goggles, you start to understand how totally awesome it can be!

VantagePoint’s CEO, Morgan Mercer, was early in on the VR tech and it’s potential use to train our employees in how to be better with sexual harassment and has also added in content for D&I as well. VR is only part of what VantagePoint is about. Doing great VR means you have to have great content for your employees to get emersed in. Ultimately, VR is the training delivery tool, but what VantagePoint understands is you better deliver great engaging content is you want great training.

What do I live about VantagePoint? 

– When you go through harassment training with VR goggles and headphones on, you feel like you are witnessing harassment happening, live, right in front of you. You’re uncomfortable. You want to do something. The fact is, doing training in virtual reality forces the user to be totally focused unlike any other kind of training I’ve ever done.

– VantagePoint has figured out, as LOD and HR pros we don’t really want to mess around with hardware (VR goggles, etc.). So, part of their strategy is to just bring everything to you, have a person on-site, and take away any pain or frustration that might go along with that side of training. You just have them show up, and they take your employees through the training. (You can also do it on your own if you like)

– The harassment training isn’t just watching this stuff happen on VR. The user also gets calls on a pop-up looking iPhone with a call from HR telling the user what they did right or wrong, etc. If you get something wrong, you get thrown back into the experience to do more work.

– I love that you can measure not only the compliance side of the training, but you can also see who is actually getting it, and who isn’t with the metrics dashboard they’ve developed.

We all know we can and have to do better when it comes to sexual harassment training in our workplaces. Traditional, classroom-style training just doesn’t seem to cut it, because it doesn’t grab the attention of the audience. No matter how well done. VantagePoint has figured out a better delivery tool, and one that will be commonplace in the very near future when it comes to all kinds of training.

The price point is actually less expensive then I thought it would be, and I would think most organizations of every size will be able to afford the VantagePoint VR training. I do think Morgan, and her team, are just scratching the surface of what’s possible when it comes to this kind of training in our workplaces. But, great VR content is also labor-intensive to pull off well.

I would definitely recommend a demo, especially if you’re looking for a great alternative to traditional harassment and D&I training. This is training that your employees will definitely remember and pay attention to!

Want Better Work Teams? Hire More Women!

There is a Harvard Business Review study by Professors Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone, in which the researchers studied how team/group diversification would impact overall team intelligence (you can view their explanation of the findings in Defend Your Research: What Makes A Team Smarter? More Women).

Big surprise to all us husbands, they found that teams with more women are smarter!  From the article:

“The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group. But so far, the data show the more women, the better.  We have early evidence that performance may flatten out at the extreme end—that there should be a little gender diversity rather than all women.

You do realize you’re saying that groups with women are smarter than groups with men? 

Yes. And you can tell I’m hesitating a little. It’s not that I don’t trust the data. I do. It’s just that part of that finding can be explained by differences in social sensitivity, which we found is also important to group performance. Many studies have shown that women tend to score higher on tests of social sensitivity than men do. So what is really important is to have people who are high in social sensitivity, whether they are men or women.” 

So, why didn’t the study find that regardless of women or men, the group with just the smartest 10 people was the smartest group?   Conventional wisdom would say give me the 10 smartest people and I’ll have the smartest team.  Here’s the problem, in almost any example in real life, this doesn’t work out. Take the top 5 scorers in the NBA in any given year, put them on one team, and they’ll almost always get beat by another team that was put together as a “team”.

There are many ingredients that need to come together to make a great team. and yes, intelligence is one, but it takes more than just intelligence, and those other items are why women performed better in this study.  Here are some of the factors that the researchers pointed to why women dominated teams performed better:

  • Communication: women team members tend to listen more to each other
  • Constructive Criticism: women tend to share criticism more constructively than men
  • Open to other ideas: the women had open minds about others’ ideas and theories
  • Authority: the women weren’t as autocratic as their male counterparts

What this study really does is speak more about team dynamics and what makes a team successful than the differences between men and women.  The researchers also found that extreme diversification, i.e., all women or all men teams performed the worst of all so some level of gender diversification is needed for high performance.

Not in a position to fire all of your male employees and hire more women?! Not to worry, the ingredients aren’t secret, but the training of the soft skills needed to be successful might be more work than just “de-manning” your company and moving forward.

Your Job Posting Requiring a Bachelor’s Degree is Discriminatory!

From the world of sports this week in 2019 –

The NCAA (collegiate sports governing body) came out with rules for agents working with college athletes who are underclassman but trying to make a decision to test the NBA waters before graduation. Take a look at what they had to say:

“With this in mind, we benchmarked our new rules against requirements for other organizations that certify agents, like the NBPA, which also requires agents to have a bachelor’s degree. While different and distinct, our rules taken together, which is the manner they were meant to be examined, provide a clear opportunity for our student-athletes to receive excellent advice from knowledgeable professionals on either the college or professional path they choose.”

So, this is being called the “Rich Paul Rule” around the NBA circles. Rich Paul is Lebron James agent, the most famous basketball player on the planet. Rich Paul is a childhood friend of Lebron James, both of them skipped ‘college’ and went directly to the pros! James went and played basketball in the NBA, Paul went and trained as an agent and now has his own sports agency, Klutch, which Lebron happens to be a minority owner.

So, why is this discriminatory?

Rich Paul, like Lebron, grew up black and with little resources. He probably could have gone to college, given the right support system, but when you grow up black and poor, usually access to those support systems are non-existent. Lebron and Rich have had some great success getting young NCAA basketball players to want to sign with them. So, the NCAA makes a rule whereas Paul will not be able to ‘tamper’ with these young men.

Rich Paul, by all accounts, is a successful sports agent for his clients. He’s a very wealthy man, running a very successful business. He’s smart enough to have an army of lawyers, CPAs, etc. surrounding him to ensure his clients have the exact representation they need to be successful in negotiating great contracts.

Rich Paul does not need a bachelors degree. The role of a sports agent does not need a bachelors degree. The NCAA is forcing agents to have a bachelor’s degree if they want to have access to these athletes.

So, let’s get back to HR. We, organizations and HR pros, are pretty much like the NCAA. We often require education for positions where there is no correlation between educational obtainment and success on the job. We do this, like the NCAA, because we are either:

  1. Discriminatory
  2. Lazy
  3. Lazy and Discriminatory

Well, we’ve always hired Account Managers with bachelor’s degrees, so that is why we keep requiring a bachelor’s degree. I would say probably 80% of the positions we hire for in organizations do not need a formal education to do that job, but there will be a formal education requirement on the job description.

Let’s not be stupid and you make comments below about how we definitely want doctors to have degrees. Of course, there are formal educational programs that are critical to success. But there are more jobs that require education where it’s not critical for success. Using education as a screener because you have too many candidates is flat out lazy and you’re probably missing great talent.

Since we know who has and doesn’t have access to higher education, requiring higher education for jobs that don’t really need it, you’re basically saying “we just really don’t want to hire minorities”. The NCAA doesn’t want Rich Paul around “it’s kids”, so they change the rules. The reality is, these are more Rich Paul’s kids than the NCAA’s. At least Rich is upfront with his clients about how he’s making money on them!

 

Words matter! If you want more gender diversity in your applicants!

New data study released by LinkedIn this week titled “Language Matters Gender Diversity Report” has some awesome insight to how the words we use in job descriptions and job postings have a dramatic impact to who actually applies to jobs. We’ve known some of this for a while, but the LinkedIn data is very robust and compelling at a new level.

Some highlights from the report:

– Women are 16% less likely to apply to a job after viewing it than men.

– Research shows that when words like “aggressive” are used in a job description to describe a company’s workplace, 44% of women (and 33% of men) would be discouraged from applying.

– 25% of women would be discouraged from working somewhere described as “demanding”.

– 61% of women associate the term “soft skills” as a female-gender preferred role vs. 52% for men.

– Women are 4 times more likely to want to be perceived as ‘collaborative’ in the workplace.

So, how do you put all of this into practice?

The reality is the words we choose, thinking these words are going to get us the dynamic talent we desire, might actually be hurting our ability to get the dynamic, gender-inclusive talent we desire. There are a number of technologies on the market currently that can help with the wording (Textio is probably the most known).

The data is very clear, the language you use on your job postings and job descriptions will attract or detract certain people from applying. Want to give yourself a chance to get more females to apply, use phrases like “soft skills” or “collaborative” as a desired skill set you’re looking for. Don’t use words like “aggressive” and “demanding” or you’re more likely to get fewer females to apply, and there are a whole host of these types of words.

If you can’t afford the technology that will help you catch this language, I would ask for help from females in your organization (not necessarily in HR) to give you feedback around language and suggestions for things that would get them to be more likely to apply. I find most employees welcome the chance to give TA and HR feedback about our work! 😉

What we know is cutting and pasting the same job description you’ve used since 2004 isn’t working or helping. Most job descriptions, even today, are written in a male-dominated voice that discourages females from applying. It’s very hard to read and see, but the data is screaming at us that it’s a problem that we aren’t paying attention to. We all (male, female, non-binary, etc.) all write in a male-dominated voice because that’s how we’ve been trained to write. That’s what we read. So, it’s natural for us. It’s unnatural for us to change it. Welcome to bias in hiring.