Presented by Symba, #OpenUpTheWorkforce interviews feature executives advancing inclusion, diversity, and equity for the future of work. In these short audio-only episodes, we talk with the top about what it takes to develop and implement inclusive processes.
In this episode of #OpenUpTheWorkforce, Donald Knight, Chief People Officer at Greenhouse Software, shares that “the biggest room is the room for improvement” and offers practical tips you can implement in your own diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. Listen here.
How does software, like Greenhouse, advance DE&I?
The primary example Donald offers is that Greenhouse was the first software to introduce a candidate name pronunciation feature within the product. He emphasizes that this helps to increase a best first impression that lowers stress & anxiety in a highly stressful experience, like interviewing. Donald also shares that their platform encourages the use of pronouns (Symba does this too!), an effort to help people feel seen and respected before they are even hired. Creating a more deliberate recruiting process that reduces bias is one way companies can source and attract diverse talent. This is how Greenhouse found Donald! He adds that diverse teams build the Greenhouse product, which is important for any software company creating solutions for recruiting or training diverse talent.
To retain diverse talent: engage, empower and champion
Donald shares, “One of the struggles companies have today is that they hire diverse people and then they are unable to retain them. And the reason why is because in many ways those environments have not been tailored to nurture the culture.” At Greenhouse, they have shifted away from DE&I and view inclusion as an output. He adds that inclusion happens when diversity, equity, and allyship are present. As a result, they’ve focused on exposing people to allyship behaviors.
Here are three tips Donald has for promoting allyship:
1. Don’t start meetings saying “hey guys.” Instead, try saying “hey ladies” to draw attention to that gendered language that has become a norm as a way to break the habit. Moving forward consider using more inclusive language like “folks” when speaking to a group of people.
2. When entering Slack channels, be mindful of inclusive language, especially for a global organization.
3. People learn differently. Record meetings, turn on closed captions, and provide post-meeting transcripts to support your employees’ varying learning styles.
Share resources and lead others
Greenhouse is committed to sharing its workforce diversity goals, ongoing journey and learnings to become a more inclusive company in order to inspire confidence in others also on this path. They also embrace thought leadership company-wide, recognizing the social impact they can have by being vocal about their inclusion work. Donald says, “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” While there is still a long road ahead for workplaces to be truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive, by leading with transparency they are constantly improving.
How can you preserve an inclusive culture on a global scale?
Donald doubles down on the importance of celebrating differences. He says, “diversity drives creativity. When you have diversity of thought you’re naturally going to be more creative. What my CEO and I say is ‘if you and I always agree, one of us is not needed’.” One way that Greenhouse celebrates the unique cultures and experiences of the different regions they employ people from is by facilitating cultural immersion through their Global Passport program. They encourage “Greenies,” what they call their employees, to go to an approved country for up to 60 days and they don’t have to take PTO. They get to work from places like Belize, Colombia, and Greece, which create pathways to immerse themselves in other cultures and increase their appreciation and respect for different ways of living. Greenhouse employees represent over 15 nationalities. By creating opportunities for Greenies to explore new cultural contexts, they have experienced greater retention of diverse talent.
Embracing diversity in early careers
The first step to increasing diversity at the early careers level is to demonstrate diversity in boards and executive leadership teams. 44% of Greenhouse’s executive leadership team are women, and three of their seven board members are women. Donald says, “I've found it easier to want to go park my own time, talent, and treasure in organizations where I can see them living out inclusive behaviors through representation.” Looking down the ladder, at the manager level, or what Donald calls “experts,” they’re also seeing an increase in diversity. Head of Talent Planning & Acquisition at Greenhouse, Ariana Moon, has shared with Donald that when she looks at their candidate pipeline, over the last three years it’s evident that diversity at each level has increased tremendously and the more diverse the leadership becomes, the more diverse the Greenhouse candidate pipeline becomes. To build that pipeline, Donald emphasizes it’s important to be in spaces dedicated to diverse talent, like Afrotech and Out In Tech. Be intentional about being in these places if you want these people to join your company.
What do leaders need to do to #OpenUpTheWorkforce?
On the hiring side, Greenhouse is helping facilitate the conversation on how to increase access to diverse groups in fields that lack representation, and how employers can make sure that the hiring process is not flooded with bias so folks with diverse backgrounds can find themselves in these types of careers. Donald also says, “It’s not enough just to be able to make sure people have access to thriving jobs, we also have to be very intentional in how we educate them on financial literacy.” He believes companies need to stop reserving long-term incentives or equity for only leaders. 100% of Greenhouse has equity in Greenhouse, which is not the norm but Donald hopes this shifts. He adds, “my hope is that as we continue to increase the access to these types of careers, we will also start to increase financial literacy and increase wealth creation by treating everyone equitably and allowing them an opportunity to not only contribute to our financial success, but also take part in our financial success.”
About Donald Knight
Donald Knight is the CPO at Greenhouse Software. He leads with a people-first mentality hoping to unlock the potential of Greenhouse talent globally. With a laser focus on the connection between people and the processes that serve them, Donald and his team create proximity by building bridges focusing on enhanced experiences that nurture culture and develop people. He is responsible for providing global strategy and leadership in developing, overseeing, and administering people programs. Before Greenhouse, Donald served as Senior Vice President of Global Talent for Edelman, where he helped shape the HR brand as a proactive, insightful, and collaborative solution provider. Want to learn more about Greenhouse Software? Connect with Donald here: email@example.com