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& inclusion:
Building a more representative pipeline
Improving Contents
must be a 4 The Value of a Representative Pipeline

company-wide A representative workforce is highly talented

A representative workforce improves customer satisfaction

process that is A representative workforce drives greater job satisfaction

both holistic and

6 Defining a Representative Pipeline
A representative workforce is skills-based

interconnected. A representative workforce reflects your customers

8 Building a Representative Pipeline

Widen your network
Make your jobs easy to discover
Refine your hiring process
Recruit from a wide range of schools
Write better job descriptions
Create programs to nurture underrepresented candidates
Train employees

19 Testing your Representative Pipeline

Tracking changes in your pipeline
Getting qualitative feedback
Any company Hiring, employee development, retention, progression, and company
culture are all important parts of the equation for companies striving

that is to implement inclusive and equitable practices. Companies that

value one aspect of the employee experience while ignoring the

others will struggle to build a truly representative workforce.

So while you can’t expect hiring alone to improve representation, it

innovative must is a vital component of building a culture of diversity, equity, and
inclusion at any company. A fair and inclusive hiring process

value building welcomes skilled candidates of all backgrounds to move through

your pipeline and feel welcome at your company.

and maintaining Why “representative pipeline?”

a representative Companies often set goals around hiring “diverse candidates” or

building a “diverse pipeline.” These terms are somewhat unclear,
workforce. though, since no one person can be diverse.

Identify exactly who you’re looking for by using the term

“representative” pipeline, meaning one that represents the entire
skilled talent market and a company’s mix of customers.

In this e-book, we discuss how to build a representative pipeline by

valuing diversity, inclusion, and equity simultaneously. We’ll answer:

Why is a representative pipeline valuable?

What does a representative pipeline look like?

How do you embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion

throughout recruitment?

How do you ensure that your pipeline is actually representative? 3
The value of a

Building a representative pipeline isn’t just the right thing to do Companies shouldn’t assume that employee diversity will
— it’s also tied to strong business results. automatically result in stronger business performance. After all,
profitability hinges on a number of factors, such as market fit,
Companies with strong records of employing and
revenue, and costs. However, employing a representative workforce
supporting disabled persons had 28% higher revenue than
can benefit your company in a number of ways beyond simply
those that didn’t. (Accenture)
impacting your bottom-line.
Companies with racially diverse workforces had 15X more
sales revenue than those that didn’t. (Deloitte) A representative workforce is highly talented.

Businesses that prioritize gender diversity on executive The most-skilled applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, as
teams were 21% more likely to have higher profitability, and seen in companies who use anonymous hiring. Underrepresented
businesses that prioritize ethnic/cultural diversity on candidates are chosen more frequently when companies obscure
executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry- the identities of applicants and focus on just their abilities.
leading profitability. (McKinsey) 4
FCB Worldwide Inc. tested candidates’ technical skills According to Deloitte, companies with inclusive cultures have 39%
anonymously during their recruitment process. Hiring higher customer satisfaction, leading to greater sales and stronger
managers weren’t shown the identities of applicants until their company performance. With a mix of experiences and outlooks, a
assessments were scored and interviews were scheduled. As a representative workforce can collectively build products that speak
result, 19% more women were hired, and 38% more ethnically- to customers’ different wants, constraints, and needs. Said another
diverse candidates came in for interviews. way, representative workforces understand their buyers’
perspectives on the company’s products.
Cockroach Labs created a hiring process where interviewers
didn’t see candidates’ resumes. Instead, recruiters provided
A representative workforce’s culture drives greater
them with a summary of their experience level and interests. As
job satisfaction.
a result, the number of Cockroach’s female employees
increased by 50%. Women now make up 30% of the total work- An inclusive culture — found in every representative workforce
force and 30% of the management team. — affects employees’ happiness and retention. According to Deloitte,
companies that have inclusive leadership have 22% less turnover
Focusing on skills versus background when building a
than companies that don’t.
representative pipeline creates a workforce that is not only
more eclectic but also hyper-talented. “An organization that intentionally builds and maintains a healthy
and inclusive culture fosters an environment where top talent can
“Creating an equitable hiring process that allows for a
bring their authentic selves to work and thrive while accomplishing
representative pipeline is one of many opportunities for hiring
business goals and objectives,” said Sutton. Build a company where
managers to identify and assess top talent that will add to the
employees feel free to show their true selves and live according to
organization’s business objectives,” said Jennifer Sutton, a
their values, and people will want to come to work and stay longer.
Talent Diversity Strategist at Google.
With so many benefits, a representative workforce isn’t just a
A representative workforce produces greater socially conscious goal for businesses. It is also tied to more
customer satisfaction. talented candidates, customer alignment, and employee
satisfaction, three factors that contribute to greater profitability.
Businesses cater to many different types of buyers, from
parents to veterans to people with disabilities. Companies with
representative workforces are better equipped to meet their
varying customers’ needs because they’re better able to
empathize with them. 5
Defining a

A representative hiring pipeline should include all available Focusing on applicants’ skills and understanding the diversity of
skilled talent. This means not just aiming for racial and your customer base are two of the first steps you need to take in
gender diversity in your applicant pool, but also considering order to fill your pipeline with a wide variety of candidates.
hiring people with disabilities, veterans, caretakers, people of
all ages, and more. A representative pipeline is skills-based.
Setting diversity goals isn’t enough. A representative pipeline is A representative pipeline is rooted in applicants’ abilities. Very
built from a company’s desire to: simply, it contains all of the available applicants whose skills qualify
them to do the job. Skills, not credentials.
Find the most-skilled candidates.
You assess applicants based on their abilities and choose the It’s sometimes difficult to remember that skills aren’t often tied to
one who is the most qualified to do the job. specific business or academic experiences. A candidate with the
core competencies for an open role might not have worked at a peer
Serve your customer base.
company, have a degree from an elite university, or even have come
You want to build a workforce that reflects the diversity of your
from the same industry.
customers, so you can meet their needs. 6
Candidates in a representative pipeline are a part of your funnel Pinterest is hiring more women to serve their users.
because their abilities match a position’s requirements. Not
Because women make up the majority of Pinterest users, the
their backgrounds.
company has made an effort to hire more female engineers. Their
engineering department was only 12% female in 2012. The company
A representative pipeline reflects your customers.
encouraged more female applicants by recruiting at a wider range
The people who work for your company should reflect the of schools and hiring more women in senior tech leadership roles.
people who buy from your company, whether they are the same
Today, the company’s engineering department is 25% female.
age, speak the same language, or share the same lifestyle. A
workforce that looks like, sounds like, and operates in the world
like your customers do has the insights to serve them well.

It’s especially important for technology companies to build Women at Pinterest

representative pipelines since they have such a wide variety of Pinterest implemented initiatives to hire more female
users. Facebook, for example, has 2.32 billion users — that’s over engineers in an effort to ensure their engineering department
a quarter of the Earth’s population. With such a massive user was more representative of their customer base.
base, Facebook’s team has to reflect the diversity of the world.

Even if your customer base currently reflects only one demo- 12%
graphic, there’s still value in building a workforce that reflects Female
the diversity of the world. An inclusive culture can help your 25%
company expand its reach into other markets.

2012 2019 7
Building a

To build a representative hiring pipeline, you must strive for “You can’t talk about diversity without talking about equity and
three values at once: inclusion. All three of those come together and impact each other
so much,” said Mercedes Jenkins, a Diversity, Equity, and
Inclusion Programs Specialist at Google.
Attracting qualified candidates of all backgrounds
Practicing these values is a process. You may have to rethink how
you’ve previously hired, from your sourcing tactics to the
Giving every qualified candidate a fair shot
language you’ve used in interviews. We’ll walk through how to
Inclusion: integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout your
Welcoming qualified candidates of all backgrounds recruitment activities to help you build a representative pipeline.

Each value depends on the other. For example, without an

inclusive culture, your company will struggle to retain a
representative workforce. On the flip side, you cannot hire a
representative workforce without first attracting candidates of
all backgrounds and then affording each one equal footing. 8
Finding qualified candidates
of all backgrounds

If the majority of your employees come from traditional

backgrounds, you might struggle to receive many applications from
underrepresented candidates. When your recruiting network is
homogenous, your sourcing efforts will mostly bring applicants
from the same backgrounds.

To receive applications from historically left-out communities, your

company has to actively connect with underrepresented candidates
and make it easy for them to connect with your business. Fill your
pipeline with skilled candidates from all backgrounds
with these tactics: 9
Encourage hiring managers to widen their network. Conferences
Companies with narrow recruiting networks will often to consider
encourage employees to make “diverse” referrals to attract
underrepresented applicants. Sourcing based on candidates’ The events that you choose to attend all depend
backgrounds, however, is flawed. No one person can be “diverse,” on your company’s specific goals and recruiting
and an applicant’s abilities should be the basis of a job offer. resources. When selecting events, consider
these well-attended conferences that support
Instead, challenge yourself to widen your own network to meet
underrepresented communities:
a variety of people from different backgrounds.

Attend three conferences that you’ve never attended before.

500 Startups’ Unity & Inclusion event
Going to different events, especially ones that serve
underrepresented groups, will help you naturally build more A one-day event to discuss the future of diversity
contacts from different backgrounds. and inclusion in tech

Visit schools where your company hasn’t previously recruited. Tech Inclusion conference
For example, prioritize schools in regions you typically don’t A two-day event dedicated to finding solutions for
visit. If you usually recruit at medium to large schools, add diversity and inclusion in tech
more small universities to your list.
Blacktech week
Form strategic partnerships with organizations serving
A week of events to encourage greater industry
specific segments of people.
knowledge, networking, and funding for people of
For example, you might join a coding bootcamp’s career network
color in tech
to find developers who are skilled yet, unlike most of your
current developers, don’t have a degree in computer science. Startup Grind conference
A global event featuring 300 startups from around
the world and a series of speakers from
underrepresented backgrounds 10
An inclusive culture can help
your company expand its
reach into other markets.

Make your jobs easy for underrepresented Make your job descriptions searchable for
candidates to discover. underrepresented candidates.
Use technology that makes jobs on your career page searchable by
You can reach more underrepresented applicants by expanding
different criteria for underrepresented groups. For example, a
your job ad distribution and increasing your ads’ searchability.
company could add a filter on their jobs page to show a list of
Post your job on job board sites that target remote positions. Or, Google’s Cloud Talent Solution allows job
underrepresented candidates. seekers to search by U.S. military occupational specialty code
Ultimately, if you keep posting in the same places, you will get (MOS, AFSC, or NEC) on participating company career sites to find
the same types of candidates. You need to diversify where you open positions that require their skills.
post openings and target the job boards that candidates from
Use these strategies to fill your pipeline with qualified candidates
different backgrounds frequent. For example, you can post your
who reflect the available skilled talent market.
job on RecruitMilitary to connect with veterans and Getting
Hired to reach more applicants with disabilities. Many
conferences that support underrepresented communities will
also have their own job boards, such as the Grace Hopper
Celebration event for women who code. 11
Giving every qualified
candidate a fair shot

Underrepresented communities have historically had lower access

to jobs across all industries, from tech to finance to fashion.
Companies must bridge these gaps by ensuring their processes are
equitable and fair at every stage of hiring.

Even with a representative pipeline, your processes may still have

unintended negative effects on applicants from underrepresented
backgrounds. Constantly scrutinize every aspect of your
recruitment to ensure that your processes aren’t placing any
candidates at a disadvantage.

You can work to level the playing field for underrepresented

candidates using these tactics: 12
If somebody meets the minimum
qualifications for a role, they should be
seriously considered as an applicant.

Refine your interviewing process Setting clear role expectations right from the start.
During requisition intake meetings, recruiters and hiring managers
It’s easy for companies to say that they’re going to interview
should identify the core competencies of a role. Recruiters should
everyone who meets the minimum qualifications — but is that
push hiring managers to reduce the number of minimum qualifications.
actually happening? Often, recruiters and hiring managers lean
Including fewer requirements allows hiring managers to consider
on their biases to favor candidates with certain backgrounds,
more candidates who come from underrepresented backgrounds.
such as an Ivy League education or years of industry experi-
ence. It’s important to set clear expectations and build out a Training interviewers and hiring managers to detect
structured interview process to help combat certain biases. transferable skills.
“To prevent biases from creeping in, recruiters need to be able to
“If somebody meets the minimum qualifications for a role,
understand the nuances of what different resumes might look like,”
they should be seriously considered as an applicant,” said
said Jenkins. Recruiters and hiring managers should create a list of
Jenkins. “Only picking candidates who meet the preferred
industries and careers that could be valuable experiences for the
qualifications is inequitable.”
open position. A good starting point is referencing the experiences of
Ensure that skilled applicants are being considered fairly by: current team members who followed a non-traditional path to their job. 13
Building a structured interview process. LinkedIn, for example, was able to reach more underrepresented
Ask the same skill-based questions for all candidates applying candidates by targeting a wider range of schools. To connect with
for the same job. This consistency ensures that interviewers’ more applicants, the company decided to cover more regions and
evaluations are based on candidates’ abilities as opposed to create Accelerate U, a program that involves a large number of
biases and irrelevant factors. schools in a single regional recruitment event. The company
increased their underrepresented minority hiring by 23% in 2016 as
Create your own structured interview process by:
a result of the program.
• Planning skill-based questions for each open position

• Asking every candidate the same set of skill-based questions

• Developing answer guides or rubrics to help interviewers Recruiting at universities

interpret different responses from candidates Historically left-out communities are typically
under-represented at top universities.
Recruit from a wide range of schools.
Companies often look at elite schools to source talent. 4.7% 14%
However, historically left-out communities typically have low Black Black
representation at these universities.

Only 4.7% of students at the top 50 universities are black. In

contrast, 14% of university students nationwide are black.

In 2016, only 645 students who enrolled at the top 36 under-

graduate schools were veterans. Compared to all universities,
there were 340,000 veterans who enrolled in post-secondary
education that year.

Expand your university outreach, and you have a higher chance

of building a qualified, representative pipeline. Top 50 Universities
Universities Nationwide 14
Write job descriptions that appeal to all candidates. Run your job description through an augmented text product,
such as Ongig.
The language in a job description can deter job seekers from
Companies such as Yelp and GoDaddy use this tool, which allows
applying for a role even if they have the core competencies
recruiters to detect biased language in their job descriptions.
needed for the position. The description might emphasize
preferred qualifications that skilled applicants may not have Skilled candidates shouldn’t be discounted because they didn’t
(e.g., a four-year degree) or use biased phrasing (e.g., gendered attend an elite school or work in your industry for a certain number
language) that discourages people from applying. of years. Create fair hiring processes that make it possible for all
qualified candidates to apply, not just those with
Open your job to every potential applicant with these strategies:
traditional backgrounds.
Emphasize skills in your job description.
Differentiate between minimum and preferred qualifications in
your job requisition, so applicants with the right core competen-
cies can recognize that they’re a good fit. If you want to focus
exclusively on skills in your descriptions, consider using Skillist. Only picking candidates
This tool reduces a job description to the required skills for a
role and prompts applicants to describe their experience
who meet the preferred
performing each skill. qualifications is inequitable. 15
Welcoming qualified
candidates of
all backgrounds

It’s easy for underrepresented applicants to feel out of place in a

hiring pipeline. They may be dealing with imposter syndrome and
feel unqualified for a role despite their core competencies. Or, they
may hear problematic language from an interviewer that makes
them feel unwelcome.

Build a recruitment culture that reassures underrepresented appli-

cants about their place in your hiring pipeline. Show every candidate
that they are welcome to apply — either currently or in the future
— with these tactics: 16
Avoid questions that lead to
similarity biases, such as “Where
did you go to school?”

Create programs to nurture underrepresented For example, the financial advisory firm The Colony Group created
candidates. the Her Wealth scholarship to support women pursuing a career
in finance. For potential female applicants, this award is a sign that
Through recruiting initiatives, you can show underrepresented
Colony will be a welcoming, empowering workplace if they
groups that they are not only welcome at your company but that
choose to apply.
they can thrive there. By offering mentorship and educational
opportunities to these communities, these programs can help
Train employees to mitigate their biases.
applicants feel more comfortable and ready to apply for jobs
at your company. Being biased is a part of being human. Everyone has biases. But
rather than pretend they don’t exist, companies must help their
Google, for example, set up a program that helps students at
teams become aware of their biases. With this knowledge,
historically black colleges develop their coding skills and apply
recruiters and hiring managers can work to recognize when
for open positions. First, experienced Google software
prejudice is entering the hiring process and shift to focus on
engineers teach an introductory computer science course on
candidates’ skills instead.
campus. Then, they act as mentors to nurture their students by
encouraging them to apply for Google internships. Some Many companies, such as Zillow, are educating their employees
engineers-turned-teachers even host mock interviews to help about their biases with formal training. Here are a few training tips
students prepare. to help you teach your hiring team about recognizing and minimizing
their prejudices:
Companies that don’t have the resources to set up a
university program can still nurture underrepresented groups Show your employees that biases exist in every aspect of our lives.
on a smaller scale. Provide a few examples of biases, such as an advertisement of a
mother cooking in a kitchen and a father on his way to work. 17
Outline the various types of biases. Be conscious of your employer branding.
Write out brief scripts to have employees act out recruitment
Imagine you’re an underrepresented job seeker. You visit the
scenarios involving each type of bias.
website of a company that seems like an exciting place to work, and
Encourage employees to become aware of their own biases. you see only pictures of white males on their career page. Suddenly,
Ask them to take Harvard’s free implicit bias test to understand you don’t feel like you belong there, and you decide not to apply.
the assumptions they hold.
The way you craft your employer brand image has a huge impact on
Instruct interviewers to focus on objective questions. whether applicants feel welcome in your pipeline. Job seekers form
Provide examples of questions that lead to specific biases. For an impression of your company based on every aspect of recruit-
example, Lindsay Grenawalt, the Chief People Officer of ment, from your career page to your interview process.
Cockroach Labs, instructs her hiring team to avoid questions that
Show every skilled candidate that your company values them as an
lead to similarity biases, such as “Where did you go to school?”
applicant with these branding tips:
For more information on unbiasing, check out
Include images of all types of employees on your career page.
re:Work’s Unbiasing guide as a starting point to build your
An underrepresented candidate will feel more comfortable applying
own training program.
if they see photos of current employees from different backgrounds.

Feature employee testimonials on your career page from people

of all backgrounds.
Embracing inclusion For example, you might highlight a statement from an employee
helps ensure that your with a disability describing the accommodations your workplace
makes for them to do their job.
hiring processes
Embracing inclusion helps ensure that your hiring processes
welcome every single welcome every single skilled applicant — no matter where they’re
skilled applicant. from, who they love, or what they look like. 18
Testing how
representative your
pipeline really is

To successfully build and maintain a representative pipeline, you Track changes in how many underrepresented
must measure and track how diversity, equity, and inclusion play candidates are in your pipeline.
out in your recruitment. Use data to assess how well your hiring
The goal here isn’t to set or fill quotas. Your company should be
team is embracing these values, and hold employees account-
hiring people because they’re qualified, not because they
able if the data shows that their performance could be improved.
are underrepresented.
Learn how your company can become better at building a
The objective, rather, is to see whether your pipeline represents
representative pipeline by monitoring the following metrics:
the diversity of available skilled talent. To see how your company
compares to the nation’s workforce, you can view current
representation levels for the U.S. labor force on the Bureau of
Labor Statistics’ site. 19
The objective is to see whether your Ask candidates and current employees for
qualitative feedback.
pipeline represents the diversity of
Numbers can only tell you so much when you’re measuring diversity,
available skilled talent. equity, and inclusion. To evaluate whether your pipeline could be
more representative, you must also consider qualitative feedback
from job candidates and your current employees.
If your data shows that you aren’t fully representing the skilled
talent market, take action to connect with more of those Here are a few sample questions to ask applicants to understand
qualified candidates. For example, you can attend more job how they felt about your recruitment process in regards to diversity,
fairs and conferences that target the underrepresented group equity, and inclusion.
to reach more skilled applicants.
• How did you find out about this position?
Help Scout, for example, took action because their design team
• On a scale of 1 to 10, do you feel qualified for the role? Explain
was 100% male. This percentage in no way reflected all of the
your rating.
skilled female designers available in the job market, so the
company made a serious effort to attract more women to the • Were there any aspects of recruitment that made it difficult for
team. Help Scout not only targeted their sourcing efforts you to apply and move forward in the process? What were they,
towards women, but they hired a woman to lead their design and how did they impact your candidate experience?
team to encourage more female applicants. By the following
year, the team was 42% women. • Were there any interview questions that left you feeling excluded
given your background and experiences? What were they, and
what did you find problematic about these questions?

Submit these questions to candidates within 48 hours of their inter-

view. Include a note to say that their responses will be anonymous
and won’t be reviewed until after the position is filled. 20
You’ll also want to ask your current employees about the Tracking representation in your
company’s initiatives to build a representative workforce. They
experience your company culture first-hand, so they can speak
pipeline is a holistic process.
to whether your workplace feels inclusive and equitable.

Here are a few sample questions to consider:

• Do you feel that you encounter biases in your job (from

co-workers, in company processes, etc.)? If so, explain how.

• Do you feel like you can be open about your background and
experiences at work? Why or why not?

• Would you recommend our company to job seekers from

underrepresented backgrounds? Why or why not?

Send out these questions as a survey to employees. Let them

know that their responses will be anonymous, and set a dead-
line for submitting answers.

Tracking representation in your pipeline is a holistic process. By

gathering feedback from candidates and employees, you and
your hiring team can think critically about what needs to be
improved in your recruitment to move skilled candidates of all
backgrounds through your pipeline. 21

A representative
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Thank you
for reading.