I voted for an elderly white man! #YesIDid #vote2020

I’ve written a ton about ageism on my blog. Let’s face it, I’m a 50-year-old white dude. Yeah, I know I love higher 40’s, but still, it is what it is. Ageism is a real problem in hiring. I’ve written often of my support for older workers and them being the most undervalued talent in the marketplace.

That being said, I’m not super excited about hiring a white dude over 70 to be my President. I also wouldn’t be super excited at hiring a black man or woman over 70 to be my President.

Does that make me ageist? Yeah, probably it does! I think it was the broadway musical Avenue Q that said, “we’re all a little bit racist” and I’m saying we’re all a little bit ageist!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and my grandma and my aunts! They are wonderful dear people! I love spending time with them and explaining things like TikTok and how you don’t have to keep a VCR around any longer. They would do anything for me!

I back the sugar daddies that can grab a girl 40-50 years younger than them, just because they have a ton of money. Wait, no I don’t, that still gross! Like way gross! Stop it!

Being a middle-aged white dude (assuming I live until I’m 100) I was hoping for a selection of candidates that was younger and more diverse. Maybe someone in their 40s! Maybe a female! I don’t know, maybe a Hispanic or Asian! Someone who spoke as I spoke. Someone who viewed the world in a longer-term sense than like I might die before this speech is over.

Call me ageist, if you want. Cancel me. Whatever.

This is our fault. Younger people, like me, are the ones to blame. We allowed this to happen because we don’t get out and vote and say, “Wait, Grandpa, go back home and stop acting like you can run the most powerful country in the free world! We don’t even let you drive long distances any more!” We didn’t show up to vote when it wasn’t the “big” vote. We waited for all the older people, who actually pay attention to this shit, to do the voting, and then we bitch and moan we don’t like the choices!

I think it’s time we just came to the conclusion that, as Americans, we just really like old white dudes! The facts are the facts! The data doesn’t lie! Look, we all have a flavor and apparently, America’s flavor is old, white, and male. Some people get really upset by this, but then go and pick another old white guy. Even Obama, choose an old white buy to be his running mate because he knew the flavor we like. You really think Obama wanted to hang out with Biden!? He could have had someone super cool! He could have had Oprah or Beyonce or Chris Rock, Anyone!

So, go vote for your old white guy today and be happy you were given the flavor you’ve purposely decided you wanted.

 

 

Does Your Hiring Process Have Diversification Bias? (Diversifi-what!?!)

One of the really great things that have happened in 2020 is the giant spotlight D&I has gotten in organizations, especially around hiring a more diverse workforce. Obviously, organizations have been working on this for a while, but with limited success.

What researchers are discovering is that many organizations might have “Diversification Bias” in their hiring process. What is Diversification Bias?

Diversification bias describes the tendency to choose more variety—to diversify—when making a simultaneous decision, and to choose less variety when making the same decisions sequentially.

For the non-technical definition, we tend to hire more diversity when we hire a bunch of people at one time, verse when we hire one person every once in a while.

This actually then gives a really good explanation around why so many organizations struggle to increase their diversity hiring because most of us don’t hire a bunch of people all at once. Most organizations have one opening for let’s say an Accountant. When that hiring manager goes to hire, they’ll most likely hire someone who is similar to them.

Now, if that same hiring manager was going to hire 3 Accountants, they are forced to look at that panel of hires and they’ll notice that everyone looks the same, thus increasing the chances they’ll offer positions to a more diverse set of candidates. I’m not saying that our traditional way of hiring is appropriate, in fact, it’s just another form of bias, it’s just a researched explanation of why this is happening.

How can we hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce? 

Let’s be honest for SMB organizations this will be difficult because you’ll never really have the headcount numbers to do any type of mass hiring, so SMBs have to have a special focus on each hire and why each decision is being made, if they want to move the needle. For larger organizations here are some tips:

1. Understand your turn over data by position and require hiring managers to hire in multiples verse one hire at a time.

2. Ensure you have a diverse and inclusive interview panel where every person on the panel has an equal vote.

3. Understand your market demographics by position and make the organization aware of where you are falling short. Great you increased your D&I hiring by 18%, but if it’s mostly in an area where you already had great diversity, you really haven’t done anything to solve your problem. Also, if your market demographics tell you that there are 15% diversity candidates in a certain segment, and you are meeting or exceeding that number, executives should know your successes. I find often executives will say, “well we need to be at 30%” without knowing what that really means for the skills you’re hiring.

Awareness and focus solve a lot of issues.

Here’s the reality. Some of your hiring managers believe that hiring a D&I candidate is a risk. They believe that a diversity hire won’t perform as well. Is that bad? Hell, yes! But it’s also reality. So, when they hire one person at a time, they are less willing to take a “risk”, in their eyes, on a diverse candidate. Again, that’s their Diversification Bias, among others, showing up.

We fight this battle on multiple fronts. We address biased hiring manager behavior when we know it’s happening, but we can also address it by changing our own processes and making it easier for hiring managers to make the right decisions.

The more you know.

OMG! Did you guys hear what Kris did!?! #Yikes!

Gawd! We love gossip!

I’m personally on five text groups, a few Messenger groups, a couple of IG groups, and a number of email chains that all act like some strange modern version of a watercooler in the breakroom at work. Or the back smoke break patio at the office. Pick your pleasure.

Cultural anthropology sees gossip as an informal way of enforcing group norms. It is effective in small groups. But gossip is not the search for truth. It is a search for approval by attacking the perceived flaws of others…As a social enforcement mechanism, gossip does not scale. Large societies need other enforcement mechanisms: government, religion, written codes.”

Think about how gossip can help organizations perform better.

If I’m new to a department, gossip quickly lets me know the group norms that are expected and tolerated. If I want to be viewed as a good performer I will follow the group norms and gossip is the vehicle for letting me know what those norms will be.

If I’m a “good” gossip, I skilled at finding and sharing information amongst my team they find valuable, I’ll quickly increase my status within the department. I have to be careful as lies and false gossip can quickly bring me down in status.

The problem with gossip, historically, is in didn’t scale well. I might have some juicy gossip but how am I going to effectively share that across an entire organization? But, now with social media, the internet, smartphones, email, Teams/Slack, Zoom, etc., we can easily spread gossip, both good and bad.

So, why am I talking about gossip? 

I will tell you leaders and HR spend more time trying to stop gossip within the organization than almost anything. I’m wondering if we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. What if we used gossip to drive great engagement? What would that look like?

The key to great gossip is “we” all want to be in on a secret. 

We want gossip that we believe almost no one else has. To use gossip to enforce organizational norms (gossip at scale) we can’t just go out and start launching secrets into the world. There has to be a plan!

The problem with trying to lead with gossip is it can lead to chaos. If we believe the social/group norm is to communicate via gossip, that is a very fine line to try and navigate successfully, knowing it’s hard to know what gossip to believe or not believe.

I think we can use the psychology behind our desire for gossip, though, to drive some great outcomes within our organizations.

What happens if you’re in a small meeting, let’s say, five people. The CEO is one of those people and she has something amazing to tell everyone, BUT, the four of us will have to keep this secret. We can’t tell anyone!

We all leave the meeting. I’ve got my #1 right-hand person on my team. I’ve got to pull them in, this is too important, this has too big of an impact on our department not to let my #1 know! So, I trust them (like the CEO trusted me) to not tell anyone else. What happens?

  1. They are over the moon that I trusted them enough to bring them in on the secret. (High Engagement – High Loyalty)
  2. I put myself in a really bad position if the CEO finds out.
  3. I start working with the CEO to let us work on a comms plan to let others know that need to know. (basically to cover my ass for already letting the secret out into the wild!)

Welcome to Organizational Behavior 101, kids!

Every leader has “gossip”. Stuff they know that their team doesn’t know. Some of that is secret. Some of that is just stuff they found about before everyone else, for an undetermined amount of time.

I find that leaders who can use the positive “safe” gossip for informing their team tend to have extremely high team engagement. “Hey, team, we need to pull it in close for a five-minute huddle, I’ve got something really important I need to share with you. But, first, you have to understand, this is NOT public information! We can’t allow this to be shared.”

I just wrote that, and I’m sitting here wanting to know what comes next! Gossip is a powerful tool, that can just as easily make your career as break your career!

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure the group norms we allow are ones where the good gossip, the sharing of information that helps us all increase our knowledge and power are encouraged, while the bad gossip is shut down immediately. All gossip is not bad, but it’s all-powerful in terms of possible outcomes.

 

This One Factor is Reducing Your Diversity Hiring by 30%!

Employers discriminate in hiring. This is a fact. It’s been a fact for generations. It’s the main reason anti-discrimination statements show up on job postings. That and it’s the law for Public employers and Government contractors who are required to have these statements. Many private employers use these as well to show they don’t discriminate in hiring.

For fifty years we’ve seen these statements on job descriptions and job advertisements. Recently, two Economists from the University of Chicago did a study looking at the impact of candidate behavior when these statements are added to a job posting and their findings were shocking!

In their study, the two economists posted advertisements for an administrative assistant job in ten large American cities. Of the 2,300 applicants who expressed interest, half were given a standard job description and the other half were given a description with an equal-opportunity statement promising that “all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, colour, age or any other protected characteristics”.

 

For racial minorities, those who received the pro-diversity statement were 30% less likely to apply for the job—and the effect appeared to be worse in cities with white majorities (see chart). In a follow-up survey, the prospective applicants said the statement prompted worries that they would be token diversity hires.

30% Less Likely To Apply!!! 

What the what?!?!

This isn’t a study that was done decades ago. This was done in the past twelve months!

So, what should we do? 

One thing the study found that had a positive impact on increasing diversity application is to show your senior executives, including your CEO, talk in a ‘real’ transparent way on the impact that diversity has on your organization.

No, not some overly-produced puff piece about how we are all part of the same rainbow. Include video on your career site with your CEO telling stories about how D&I isn’t just a marketing tactic, but how it’s really impacted the organization in a positive way.

Have diverse employees ask the CEO question that gets to the heart of where D&I is in your organization. Don’t be afraid about keeping this conversation open and maybe a bit uncomfortable. The more real, the more candidates will understand that you’re really trying to make a difference.

If you really want to make sure you’re not missing great minority applicants who are skipping even applying to you, embed these videos right into your job postings!

Don’t think that when you put an “EEOC” statement at the end of your job posting is letting a diverse candidate pool know you’re a great place for them to work. They don’t buy it! You have to be better than that!

Politically Incorrect Post of the Week: Pay Inequality Persists!

Pay inequality persists? Well, that’s not politically incorrect!

What if I told you, gender wage gaps persist even in markets where workplace discrimination is impossible or unlikely?!

Whatcha you talkin about, Tim!?

Female Uber Drivers make 7% less than male drivers, even though, none of us even know if a male or female driver will pick us up. The algorithm specifically doesn’t allow us to request or know. So, how can Uber Drivers have a gender pay inequality issue?

Okay, so here’s where this might become a bit politically incorrect for those who want to make it that and ignore facts. Turns out, Men, more than women, drive faster, so they will make more on average driving for Uber than women. Also, Men are more likely to on request for rides in more congested, riskier areas, which tend to carry higher fares.

You can call it pay inequality. Some will call it a performance difference, in this particular position, in this particular profession.

One more example, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a gig worker site, which also only measures users performance and does not measure gender, also shows gender pay inequality across it’s users to the tune of 10.5%! Amazon’s Mechanical Turk pays men 10.5% more than women for the same work, even though they have no idea the person doing the work is a man, woman, non-binary gender, etc.

So, what gives!? Again, it comes back to performance. Researchers found:

“For 22,271 Mechanical Turk workers who participated in nearly 5 million tasks, we analyze hourly earnings by gender, controlling for key covariates which have been shown previously to lead to differential pay for men and women. On average, women’s hourly earnings were 10.5% lower than men’s. Several factors contributed to the gender pay gap, including the tendency for women to select tasks that have a lower advertised hourly pay. This study provides evidence that gender pay gaps can arise despite the absence of overt discrimination, labor segregation, and inflexible work arrangements, even after experience, education, and other human capital factors are controlled for. Findings highlight the need to examine other possible causes of the gender pay gap.”

Okay, don’t shoot the messenger! I’m only reporting the news!

Funny thing is, the authors (both male and female) of this Northwestern University study also were very concerned about people thinking they were being politically incorrect, actually making a plea within the published paper telling people they weren’t being politically incorrect!

Here’s the problem with all of this. Men can and will do certain jobs, on average, better than women. Women can and will do certain jobs, on average, better than men. I haven’t seen a study on non-binary genders, yet, but I can guess that Non-binary genders can and will do certain jobs, on average, better than both men and women!

This is why we have to be very careful when looking at gender pay inequality data at a macro-level. Of course, we have gender pay issues. But throwing out macro numbers does not help solve the problem. As leaders and HR professionals it’s our job to find the specific pay issues we have and correct those.

We love to believe, especially in our overly charged social climate we are in currently, that there are always bad actors at play when things like this happen. That’s not always the case, and we (the collective we) lose credibility when we make things like gender pay inequality a macro issue to leaders and executives who don’t have those issues or have them in very narrow categories which they were unaware.

Let’s find the inequalities. Let’s discover the reason for these inequalities. Then, let’s make things right that need to be made right. Right now, we have a lot of righting to do, but my hope is that won’t always be the case. So, assume positive intent, first, and let’s make our world better for everyone.

If you had to redo your corporate mission statement in 2020, would it change?

I think we call agree that 2020 has been a sh*tshow, but there also have been some very important issues that have taken a spotlight that probably would have a major impact on our corporate mission and vision statements. Besides the social justice conversation, the political division continues to grow, and of course workplace health and wellness kind of continues to suck up the oxygen in the room!

Coinbase, a technology company that created a platform to buy and trade cryptocurrency, decided to redo their corporate mission statement, primarily because political division and social justice ideas, being discussed in the workplace, were kind of disrupting their culture and not in a positive way.

Here are some of the aspects of the new Coinbase mission statement:

Play like a championship team

  • Be company first: We act as #OneCoinbase, putting the company’s goals ahead of any particular team or individual goals.
  • Act in service of the greater mission: We have united as a team to try and accomplish something that none of us could have done on our own.
  • Default to trust: We assume positive intent amongst our teammates, and assume ignorance over malice. We have each other’s backs.
  • Focus on what unites us, not what divides us: We help create a sense of cohesion and unity, by focusing on what we have in common, not where we disagree, especially when it’s unrelated to our work.
  • Sustained high performance: As compared to a family, where everyone is included regardless of performance, a championship team makes a concerted effort to raise the bar on talent, including changing out team members when needed.

Focus on building

We focus on the things that help us achieve our mission:

  • Build great products: The vast majority of the impact we have will be from the products we create, which are used by millions of people.
  • Source amazing talent: We create job opportunities for top people, including those from underrepresented backgrounds who don’t have equal access to opportunities, with things like diverse slates (Rooney rule) on senior hires, and casting a wide net to find top talent.
  • Fair talent practices: We work to reduce unconscious bias in interviews, using things like structured interviews, and ensure fair practices in how we pay and promote. We have a pay for performance culture, which means that your rewards and promotions are linked to your overall contribution to the mission and company goals.
  • Enable belonging for everyone: We work to create an environment where everyone is welcome and can do their best work, regardless of background, sexual orientation, race, gender, age, etc.

We focus minimally on causes not directly related to the mission:

  • Policy decisions: If there is a bill introduced around crypto, we may engage here, but we normally wouldn’t engage in policy decisions around healthcare or education for example.
  • Non-profit work: We will do some work here with our Pledge 1% program and GiveCrypto.org, but this is about 1% of our efforts. We are a for-profit business. When we make profit, we can use that to hire more great people, and build even more. We shouldn’t ever shy away from making profit, because with more resources we can have a greater impact on the world.
  • Broader societal issues: We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus.
  • Political causes: We don’t advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction from our mission. Even if we all agree something is a problem, we may not all agree on the solution.

The reason is that while I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction and by creating internal division. 

I appreciate that Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, is working to try and protect the corporate culture that Coinbase had prior to all the issues that have taken center stage in 2020. I think most leadership teams probably feel the same way, “Can’t we just have it like it was before!?” Wasn’t that better?

Well, it probably was better for the leaders and a good number of employees, but it also wasn’t good for a bunch of others. Many of these conversations were needed, and our hope is this will lead to even a better, stronger culture moving forward. I’m not naive, though, some of this will destroy some companies. It’s never all good or all bad.

I actually like the focus on work, when you are at work. It’s a very GenX/Baby Boomer thinking. The younger you are, the more you want your work life to reflect your personal life and beliefs. Some of that is just simple nativity. Some of that is probably a better way to work.

What I know, as a leader, is that we can’t have non-stop division within our workplaces and thing that will lead to a successful company. It won’t. So, we have some choices to make. We can decide to only hire people who think just like we think. Which sounds like the opposite of inclusion. Or we can work really hard to help our employees understand that having people around us that might have different beliefs is a positive thing if we really work to get to know the other person.

What if we only hired based on job interest? A Job Lottery!

I heard about a very cool way that some schools are beginning to select student governments. Think about how the normal student government is selected. Some student government advisor, usually the school’s government teacher, makes an announcement for student government elections. Any student interested can throw their name into the hat, and start campaigning.

Then, reality hits.

The most popular girl decides she wants to run, and then the star quarterback decides he will also run, and the drum major of the student marching band puts her name in, it becomes a whos-who of the student body, all looking to butter-up their college applications. If you’re not popular or have a built-in voting base (school marching bands have a way of swinging elections if they elect in mass), you have zero shot at getting elected.

Now, if we changed from elections to a lottery system, every single person who has an interest in being a part of the student government now has an equal chance of being a part of the student government. Do you like this idea or not? (Listen to Gladwell’s podcast to see how this really plays out, it’s fascinating!) 

Most people’s initial reaction is not positive about a lottery. We want to have our vote. Our say! A lottery seems random. The very worst person might win the lottery and then we are stuck! Truth be told, we are awful at selection! We are bad at selecting politicians. We are bad at selecting employees. Humans are just bad at knowing what’s best for them.

Think about how we select our President. If we had used a lottery to select the President all these years, half of the U.S. Presidents would have been female! A good portion would have been African American, way before Obama! We probably would have had a Hispanic President!

What Hundred.org found is that selecting student governments via lottery actually has produced a ton of leaders that school teachers/administrators, and students didn’t even realize could be great. We never gave them a chance, and they lived ‘down’ to our expectations. But, when chosen via lottery, they rose to the occasion. Also, just because we ‘elected’ the Prom Queen to be Student Class President, doesn’t mean they’ll be good, in fact, just as many that are good, suck!

Now, let’s take this in another direction. What would happen if we did a “Hiring Lottery”? Instead of going through all the interviews and such, we just have people show interest, and then we pull a name out of a hat? Do you think it would work?

Let’s add one thing. What if we had AI go through each person who showed interest and made sure they met our qualifications to do the job? Would you have buy-in then? We had 100 applicants who meet the criteria of the job, we spin the ping pong balls and pick one, and Welcome to ACME Inc., Mary! You won the job lottery!

What do you think Mary’s chances of being successful are? 50/50? Lazlo Bock, in Work Rules, says Google was only 1% better than 50/50 in their selection, so it would seem like 50/50 would be a really strong success rate for your hires!

I have a strong belief that with many of our roles, especially those that are low-skill, no-skill jobs, a hiring lottery would actually be considerably more efficient and eliminate all bias, and would probably produce more applicants for organizations. Also, when considering lower-skilled jobs, “job interest” might be the most important criteria to consider!

Could it work in skilled professions? I think it would probably work exactly the same, it’s just a harder sell to executives since they have skills and want to desperately believe those skills matter over someone with similar skills!

Tell me what you think! Would you be willing to hire via a Job Lottery!?

Is it okay to be biased for underrepresented communities in hiring?

I’m a big podcast listener. It’s one of the reasons we started HR Famous because we loved the format! One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway.

If you aren’t familiar with Scott Galloway he’s a New York University professor of marketing and hugely popular. He’s a liberal and rails openly against Trump and also his own industry, Higher Education. I’m a moderate and he’s so freaking smart, I could care less about his political leanings, I just get smarter listening to him.

Besides being a professor, he has started and exited a few technology companies, sits on boards, has school-aged kids, and talks a ton about the stock market.

On a recent pod, Elitism: Money vs. Influence, he gave his top 3 attributes the top-performing employees of the companies that he has started. These are:

  1. Most likely Female. “First they were female. If they were male I couldn’t say this but it’s okay because as long as you are biased for underrepresented communities your okay, but we try and ignore that…” (42:03 in the pod)
  2. Graduate from a world-class university. Ivy League, Penn, Michigan, Stanford, Berkley, Vanderbilt, etc. “Better schools matter…more applicants…start with better core human capital…better screening.”
  3. Athletes are very successful. They understand teamwork, discipline, they can endure and push themselves harder. “Someone who can finish an Ironman isn’t lazy”, says Galloway.

So, Professor of NYU, former business owner, and thought leader says it’s okay to be biased in selection.

I’m not sure I agree we should ever be biased in our hiring selection practices, but Galloway points out a reality in our culture. As long as we aren’t biased towards the majority, we will look the other way and ignore it.

What Galloway is saying is not different than how the vast majority of hiring managers are making their final selections. They take a look at past and current performance and they make some educated inferences about what those top performers have in common. Based on this knowledge, it will shape their hiring selection. Does this, or could this, lead to bias? Yes.

Does it make it wrong?

That’s the big sticky question, isn’t it?

We want to say, no, it’s fine, continue to hire the females if those are your best performers. But, just because your current females are your best performers doesn’t mean they’ll be your best moving forward, or that maybe one of the males will be even a better performer.

Flip the scenario.

Galloway now tells us that one of the three attributes for high performance is they are “male”. Do we have a problem with this now? Most likely, you do have a problem with it based on hiring equity issues, broadly, but it’s hard to say specifically since maybe this organization doesn’t have gender equity issues.

Want to know what Inclusion is difficult when it comes to organizational dynamics? It’s because what Galloway laid out is exactly what every organization lays out. The difference is, it isn’t always friendly to the underrepresented community.

Like I said, regardless of your feelings on this one subject, Galloway’s podcast is money! It’s on my must-listen to pods each week.

Give me your thoughts on this in the comments?

Do you pay a larger employee referral bonus for Black Engineers?

I know a ton of HR Pros right now who have been charged by their organizations to go out and “Diversify” their workforce.  By “Diversify”, I’m not talking about diversity of thought, but to recruit a more diverse workforce in terms of ethnic, gender, and racial diversity.

Clearly, by bringing in more individuals from underrepresented groups in your workforce, you’ll expand the “thought diversification”, but for those HR Pros in the trenches and sitting in conference rooms with executives behind closed doors, diversification of thought isn’t the issue being discussed.

So, I have some assumptions I want to put forth before I go any further:

1. Referred employees make the best hires. (Workforce studies frequently list employee referrals as the highest quality hires across all industries and positions)

2. ERPs (Employee Referral Programs) are the major tool used to get employee referrals by HR Pros.

3. A diverse workforce will perform better in most circumstances, then I homogeneous workforce will.

4. Diversity departments, if you’re lucky enough, or big enough, to have one in your organization, traditionally tend to do a weak job at “recruiting” diversity candidates (there more concerned about getting the Cinco De Mayo Taco Bar scheduled, etc.)

Now, keeping in mind the above assumptions, what do you think is the best way to recruit diverse candidates to your organization?

I’ve yet to find a company willing to go as far as to “Pay More” for a black engineer referral vs. a white engineer referral. Can you imagine how that would play out in your organization!?  But behind the scenes in the HR Departments across the world, this exact thing is happening in a number of ways.

First, what is your cost of hire for diverse candidates versus non-diverse candidates? Do you even measure that? Why not?  I’ll tell you why, is very hard to justify why you are paying two, three, and even four times more for a diversity candidate, with the same skill sets, versus a non-diverse candidate in most technical and medical recruiting environments.  Second, how many diversity recruitment events do you go to versus non-specific diversity recruitment events?  In organizations that are really pushing diversification of the workforce, I find that this figure is usually 2 to 1.

So, you will easily spend more resources of your organization to become more diversified, but you won’t reward your employees for helping you to reach your goals?  I find this somewhat ironic. You will pay Joe, one of your best engineers, $2000 for any referral, but you are unwilling to pay him $4000 for referring his black engineer friends from his former company.

Yet, you’ll go out and spend $50,000 attending diversity recruiting job fairs and events all over the country trying to get the same person.  When you know the best investment of your resources would be to put up a poster in your hallways saying “Wanted Black Engineers $4000 Reward!”.

Here’s why you don’t do this.

Most organizations do a terrible job at communicating the importance of having a diverse workforce, and that to get to an ideal state, sometimes it means the organization might have to hire a female, or an Asian, or an African American, or a Hispanic, over a similarly qualified white male to ensure the organization is reaching their highest potential.

Workgroup performance by diversity is easily measured and reported to employees, to demonstrate diversity successes, but we rarely do it, to help us explain why we do what we are doing in talent selection.  What do we need to do? Stop treating our employees like they won’t get it, start educating them beyond the politically correct version of Diversity and start educating them on the performance increases we get with diversity.  Then it might not seem so unheard of to pay more to an employee for referring a diverse candidate!

So, you take pride in your diversity hiring efforts, but you’re just unwilling to properly reward for it…

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.