Hiring people from under-represented groups, be it ethnic, racial, sexual identity, etc., is generally non-controversial.
But non-controversial issues can also fly. The latest example: When Trelex CEO Brian Palma argued during an RSA keynote last week that the industry needs to do better to hire people from different backgrounds.
“Palma draws on data clearing that shows that ‘simple white men are dominating our industry,’ Infosecurity Magazine. “He argues that the industry is pushing away great, diverse people and as a result is ‘doing a detrimental job to our industry.’ We are neglecting to pave the way for people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ + community. Lack of diversity limits intelligence, innovation and our ability to recruit the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. “
Among the audience was Smarthive CEO Sanjay Patel, who, after Palmer’s speech, Taken to LinkedIn Deserves to be told “Hypocritical award of the century“Because looking at pictures of senior executives at Trelex on the company’s website, it looks like a steady stream of white middle-aged men.”
Patel made this clear in an interview That he sees many companies where “worker bees are diverse” but says that’s not the case for senior managers.
Trelex, surprisingly, did not take Patel’s post kindly. Michael Alicia, chief human resources officer at Trelex, in a separate interviewDenounced Patel’s post as “a cheap shot” and countered that “50% of our leadership comes from under-represented groups” (Patel) actually did what he was accusing others of. Gave. “
It is noteworthy that Palma has been CEO for only nine months, which is not too long to reshape the 5,000-person workforce.
Now that out of all those name-calling paths, I should emphasize that both Patel and Alicia have highlighted an actual recruitment problem and why it is so difficult to fix. (Yes, different people will define “static” very differently.)
Patel gives a striking example – from his own history – where HR can give an official- and correct-sounding reason for backing down against a minority applicant. He said the agency (a former employer) had narrowed down the list of applications for a particular role to three candidates. When HR was asked to narrow down the list so that a final candidate could be identified, a minority application was hit because HR said it had low communication skills.
But when Patel digs into the details, it turns out that the “communication” problem was just a dense pronunciation. Different manager interviewers had difficulty understanding the applicant’s answer.
Patel argued that executives and managers need to take time to understand someone who speaks a little differently. We have people all over the world. ” He added that his next step was to “make sure every candidate has an accent.”
This is a perspective problem. Who will this applicant talk to on the job? Will he talk to colleagues? Customers? Which customers will be calling from another country? Depending on the region, the communication-limited application may be well understood by customers – perhaps better than an American with an American accent.
Patel also took up the issue, with some trying to recruit more staff from under-represented groups and taking steps to recruit. For example, he disliked the title “chief diversity officer” which he said could be “the most racist title of any company.” He said the role reduces the cost of hiring minorities and can make them feel like hiring tokens. “No one wants to be a candidate for diversity because whatever they do will always be stigmatized.
“(Inclusion) Be part of your culture. “Solve (the problem) by getting rid of stupid rules that require X percent of minority applicants,” Patel said. “Keep these rules and people will find their way around it.”
Another problem: over-emphasized experience. This may be a nice feature, but many minorities who move from one company to another never get proper publicity. In that case, their “experience” – perhaps tarnished by a constantly bad company culture – could hold them back. Instead, focus on talent, skills, how an applicant thinks, and other specific issues.
This problem exceeds that of employees who can think and talk like customers and partners. In cyber security, a diverse group of employees can perform better by thinking like attackers that they are trying to thwart. “There are a lot of attacks from other countries. Why aren’t people with similar backgrounds being hired as attackers? “Patel said.
A big part of the problem comes from HR which tries to guess who the hiring manager will probably want the most. Often, hiring managers will be compensated by how quickly employers find candidates. To that end, HR will often look at the existing staff of that manager and try to give those people similar applicants.
Some of these widely discussed technology biases. Patel said that when he went to LinkedIn to look for candidates, he saw that almost all of the people shown were of Indian background, just like Patel. Even the LinkedIn algorithm is trying to send Patel people like him.
Alicia of Trelex agrees that recruiting different groups can be difficult, although she argues that it is essential. But he added that company culture could be a powerful factor.
“I was born in Puerto Rican, New York. I have experienced being the only one of my kind in every home,” said General Alicia. Used to help. Really good intentions require curiosity on judgment. All it takes is discipline. ”
Alicia also came up with the experience, but she had a different idea: even without bias, the experience could be overrated. “I have seen requests for eight years of experience. You don’t Need That level of experience. We can train them. I want (applicants) to be smart and capable. You start emphasizing deadlines (years of experience) and you start dropping people. You insist on some advanced degree and you start excluding people. ”
It all starts with posting a job advertisement in a place where the most likely group will see it, such as job boards at universities with a high percentage of minority students.
Alicia gives an example of how she processes location requests: “We could have six or seven finalists. What is team makeup now? What does the team need? Are you pitching a government account and you don’t have a wife? Not an African American?
It helps, Alicia said, to start at the lowest level. “We have a program where you bring people early in their careers and develop them. So far (this year), we have hired 100 interns and 30% of our interns are under-represented. Our goal is to transform them into employees. We will probably convert at least 50%. ”
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