Diversity and Inclusion in the Hiring Process: The Ultimate Guide

Diversity and inclusion in the hiring process

Diversity and inclusion in the hiring process are widely discussed topics in talent acquisition communities—and for good reason. Both are critical in creating a healthy environment, full of a range of perspectives, where employees feel comfortable being their true selves. If your hiring team isn’t prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, you’re doing something wrong.

D&I is undoubtedly crucial for every hiring strategy, with diverse companies outperforming other companies by 33%. And as 70% of candidates say that a company’s D&I efforts are significant when job hunting, it’s clear that D&I is top of mind for both hiring teams and job seekers.

But far too often in conversations, the lines between diversity and inclusion are blurred, almost as if they’re one and the same. Yet this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Diversity needs inclusion and inclusion needs diversity to create a holistically enjoyable and equitable workplace. So, what’s the difference between the two? And how should talent teams promote both?

What is Diversity?

A diverse company is a company that hires a wide range of individuals. This workplace promotes diversity across characteristics including race, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religious beliefs, education, and more.

What is Inclusion?

An inclusive company is a company that ensures all individuals, regardless of their background or characteristics, feel welcome. This workplace celebrates differences for the significant value that they bring to the workplace.

Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion in the Hiring Process

Creating a positive experience for candidates should always be at the forefront of your mind. It’s part of why diversity and inclusion are both so important: an environment that isn’t accepting of some people is unacceptable for all people.

The benefits of D&I in the workplace are immense. Now that we’ve differentiated between the two terms, how can you facilitate both in your recruiting? 

Read on to learn actionable steps you can take to promote D&I at every step in your hiring process.

Before the Interview: Job Posting

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the hiring process should start before an interview even takes place. Take time to craft job postings with thoughtful descriptions. What you write and where you post it holds more significance than you may realize.

Promoting Diversity

In job descriptions, steer clear from saying that you’re looking for someone who will be a good “culture fit.” Swap out that phrase for one that is diversity-focused: “culture add.” Looking for culture fit often results in hiring candidates similar to current employees, whether in background or skillset. Culture add seeks out individuals who offer diverse, fresh perspectives.

After you’ve drafted up and finalized your job posting, the next step is promotion. Where are you posting your job openings? While sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great to promote your position to large audiences, there are many other avenues you should explore to cultivate a diverse candidate pool. 

Dive into job boards that are geared towards a specific subsection of the population. This will help promote equal opportunity employment for historically underrepresented groups. Some examples include 70 Million JobsAbilityLinksPink JobsPowerToFlyBlack Jobs, and iHispano

Once a job posting goes live, encourage your current employees to refer diverse candidates for the position. For instance, if you have a new open role for a software engineer (a male-dominated field), encourage your employees to refer female applicants. For further incentivization, provide a reward to any employee that refers a diverse candidate who ultimately receives and accepts a job offer.

Promoting Inclusion

Are you using gender-biased language in job postings? Certain words subtly skew masculine or feminine, and these include words you might not even think about. “Rockstar” and “ninja” cater to male applicants, as they possess a masculine connotation.

Instead, embed your postings with gender-neutral language. Rather than saying you’re looking for a “coding ninja,” use inclusionary language like “software developer.” 

Superlatives also have the potential to turn off female candidates. Studies find that men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications. Meanwhile, women only apply if they meet 100% of them. While it’s true you’re looking for someone who’s “best-in-class” and the best fit for your organization, overly stressing that in the job description can make female candidates feel underqualified.

For one last inclusionary touch to your job postings, be sure to underscore any inclusive benefits that your company offers. This may include childcare subsidies, paid family leave, and paid parental leave. For some applicants, these may seem like nice perks, but for others, they’re necessities.

During the Interview: Interview Panels

Make sure to evaluate your interview panels for both diversity and inclusivity. When you craft interview panels with D&I in mind, you guarantee that interviewers greet candidates with a great impression of what it’s like to work at your organization.

Promoting Diversity

If you struggle to hire diverse candidates, assess your interview panels; they might not be conducive to diverse hiring. To fix this, the first step is to create diverse interview panels that reflect the talent you’d like to bring on board. 

For instance, if you want to hire more female engineers, include at least one female engineer in the interview panel. Candidates want to see themselves represented in their future workplace, and meeting with the interview panelists is the perfect opportunity for them to assess this representation.

Want one more strategy you can add to your collection of hiring practices for diversity? Before your interviewers speak to any candidates, ensure that they’re all trained and briefed on the importance of diversity in the vetting process. Instead of prioritizing candidates who offer what the company already has, they should consider what the company is missing.

Promoting Inclusion

Crafting a diverse interview panel is a crucial step in cultivating an inclusive workforce where employees’ backgrounds are represented and celebrated. But here’s one step that many TA teams skip when creating inclusive interview panels: training interviewers on unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias prompts interviewers to make decisions in favor of one person or group while leaving other candidates at a disadvantage. Unchecked unconscious degrades both the authenticity of your hiring process and your workforce diversity.

And as more interview panels take place remotely, video interviews—despite the benefits that they bring in widening your talent pool—can create barriers to success that negate inclusivity. Remote hiring is now the norm, which means that hiring teams must take action in breaking down these barriers.

Some candidates may come from career backgrounds where they’ve never used applications like Zoom before. If your hiring team recruits virtually, take steps to level the playing field for all candidates by giving them materials on best practices for video interviews well in advance.

After the Interview: Candidate Surveys

You can instill every ounce of your energy into promoting diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, but none of it matters unless your practices actually create a positive effect on candidates. By sending anonymous surveys to talent, you can concretely measure if D&I recruiting efforts properly translate.

Promoting Diversity

Collecting information on the backgrounds of your candidates allows you to identify which subsections of the population are represented in your candidate pool and which groups are underrepresented. Consider collecting data on categories such as ethnicity, race, gender, neurodiversity, disability, etc.

Gathering information on personal characteristics must be handled with care and sensitivity. Carefully craft the survey’s language and communicate that providing this information is optional, it’s anonymous, and the information gathered is solely for facilitating proper diversity and inclusion hiring practices.

Promoting Inclusion

Based on the data that you collect, assess if any parts of your hiring practices exclude candidates. If you find that you lack candidates from certain backgrounds, examine your job posting for any exclusionary language, or share your posting to job boards geared toward that specific group.

To further promote inclusivity, you can include likert scale questions that gauge how much a candidate agrees with a statement, such as, “My interviewers made me feel comfortable.” This allows you to assess the quality of your interviewers and see if they truly foster a welcoming environment.

Kickstart Your D&I Hiring Efforts Today

Uplifting diversity and inclusion in the hiring process is a never-ending journey with a worthwhile purpose that spans beyond hiring goals. Find motivation in the fact that you’re helping to create a world where everyone is celebrated for who they are.

In the digital age, hiring teams can now use their tech stack to supercharge their efforts in cultivating D&I. With GoodTime, you can start the interview process on the right foot by creating diverse and inclusive interview panels.

GoodTime’s self-identification tagging system allows you to group interviewers based on characteristics, such as “nerdette” for female engineers, to create panels that are representative of the diverse and wide-ranging perspectives at your company.

Learn more about how GoodTime can help supercharge D&I in your hiring process.

6 Steps Proven To Boost Your Employer Brand

Employees of a company.

Great compensation alone no longer tops the list of must-haves for job seekers. So what is driving competitive talent your way? Today, it’s all about how candidates perceive your company’s culture, aka your employer brand – and whether or not they can visualize themselves being part of it. 

In fact, with 25% of candidates willing to accept a pay cut to work for a company with an engaging employee experience, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the employer brand is just as important as the consumer brand. All things considered, focusing on your brand is undoubtedly good for business: organizations that invest in their employer brand are three times more likely to hire quality candidates.

In a world where your reputation as an employer can be discovered in just a few clicks, leveling up is mission-critical. Here are six proven strategies to help you do just that.

1. Audit, Both Inside and Out

It’s one thing to create a flashy careers page – it’s another to live out those promises. To foster a healthy company culture full of happy employees, start by listening. 

Commit to asking your team for honest feedback through regular employee pulse surveys so you can measure and track how they feel about their work experience. Then – and most importantly – let the feedback inform your business strategy.

Don’t stop there. Take an external look at your employer brand by “listening” to what people are saying about your company across social media platforms and job review sites. Gathering this data will help you not only identify your strengths and play to them in the future, but also identify your weaknesses and prioritize next steps for mitigating them.

2. Employer Brand Starts With Employee Value Proposition

Next, get clear on why competitive talent would want to work for you. What do you offer in exchange for their valuable time and skills?

Today’s candidates want to work for a place that not only shares their values, but also provides a sense of belonging. Use the data gathered during your audit to write compelling job descriptions that make it clear why a talented individual should join your team.

To further reel in star candidates, ensure that these same value propositions are intelligently conveyed in the hiring process, leaving no doubt in the minds of candidates that your company is the place for them.

3. Demonstrate a Commitment To DEI  

It’s not enough to show off your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts after a candidate is hired; 85% of job seekers want to know where employers stand on DEI before making a final decision about a job.

A great place to start? Your careers page. If DEI is truly a clear focus for your organization, demonstrate it by including images of people from diverse backgrounds, inclusive language, and employee testimonials that speak to your efforts.

Committing to DEI is one of the most consequential factors in creating a workplace where employees feel comfortable to be their authentic selves. But practicing DEI is a continuous journey. Make a habit out of regularly evaluating your DEI efforts and identifying areas needing improvement. 

4. Broadcast Growth Opportunities

Employees want and need a challenge — especially high performers. In fact, 33% of employees cite boredom as the main reason for leaving a job.

So if growth isn’t part of your employer brand, it needs to be. Employees who are offered growth and development opportunities learn new skills, making them more valuable and more engaged.

Don’t forget to emphasize these opportunities everywhere you talk about open roles: on your careers page, in job descriptions, and on social media. Showing that you invest in the well-being of your employees will quickly capture a job candidate’s attention.

5. Give Current Team Members a Voice

One of the most significant assets that will reinforce your employer brand is sitting right in front of you: your employees. In fact, candidates trust what current employees say about working for a company three times more than they trust the employer.

To leverage your team, ask them to leave reviews on job sites, request testimonials to share on your website or social media, or record videos of employee stories you can use in recruiting activities.

Your employees’ stories will breathe personality into your employer brand, showcasing real-life examples of people who love being part of your team. Take it from Microsoft, a company that took this idea to another level by creating a Twitter profile, @MicrosoftLife, which is exclusively centered around their company culture and the lives of their employees.

6. Remember: The Candidate Relationship Is Your Employer Brand

Amidst auditing and improving your employer brand, never lose sight of the connection built between candidates and your organization during the interview process – because at the end of the day, the candidate relationship is your employer brand. How you treat and interact with candidates in their hiring journey directly reflects the type of employer you are. To position yourself as a great place to work, ensure that candidates feel respected.

Here’s where your tech stack comes in: implementing features that allow candidates to self-schedule their interviews for a time that works best for them, and leveraging automation for a quick and easy recruitment process, sends a message to candidates that their time is valued.

Don’t let a negative candidate relationship weigh down your employer brand. Give candidates a seamless experience by leveling up your tech stack today.

How to Deliver a Hiring Strategy Focused on Diversity

Webinar on diversity in hiring.

We’ve all seen the data: candidates want to know they’re considering a company that makes DEI a true pillar in its company culture, and that culture begins with hiring. We partnered with Mawulom Nenonene, head of talent at LTSE, to chat about what it takes to develop a winning strategy to hire top talent. You can watch the full webinar here, but for the TLDR, here are the seven key takeaways to learn how to practice diversity in hiring.

Building a Foundation for Equity

LTSE entrenches DEI into its talent acquisition process. They teach hiring managers to leverage pipeline data to drive strategic top-of-funnel sourcing planning. This allows consistency and reduces biased hiring.

Templates, Templates, Templates

At LTSE, role templates are a central source of truth in helping hiring managers find the best talent for each role. Specifically, they don’t simply write out the job description and mirror the template to the JD— the team does additional discovery to learn the goals of a specific role and what expertise the talent in question needs to have. Nenonene shares that these goals being understood and outlined are as equally important as any formal education requirement.

Actionable Tip: Increase your number of templates and train your team on how to use them.  GoodTime platform data shows that increasing template usage can increase the monthly volume of unique candidates by nearly 150%. 

Promote Why It Matters

Representation matters because it’s the right thing to do, but also, the data just doesn’t lie. Team members are more likely to execute and promote a diverse hiring strategy when they align on most the mission and the goals surrounding all hiring team objectives, and this includes knowing how having a diverse work culture directly impacts the success of the company. 

Nenonene points to the Gartner research that shows 75% of organizations with decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets through 2022.

Gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous and less inclusive teams by 50% on average. 

In a Deloitte survey, Nenonene points out that 83% of millennials reported higher levels of engagement when they believe their company fosters an inclusive culture. 

Actionable Tip: Create a blueprint so every hiring manager can get it right with their talent acquisition strategies. There are many types of diversity, so evaluating the current team’s viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds paves the way for hiring an all-inclusive team ready to fill in the gaps.

The Anatomy of a Skills-based Job Description

There’s no one-size-fits-all skill for every job description. Hiring managers who prioritize skills-based hiring need to have clear, actionable steps for guidance.

Actionable Tip: Review every job description for inclusion. Tools for inclusive job description development include Hemingway, Textio, and Mathison.io, which analyses job descriptions for bias and exclusionary terms.

The Rooney Rule

The Rooney Rule has been around for some time and requires that a hiring manager interview one individual from the underrepresented candidates for a role. At LTSE, this rule is modified to also require that the hiring team interview at least two women and two underrepresented candidates before extending an offer.

The empirical data that Nanonene observed across several was that unless that URG candidate had a truly life-changing experience suring their interview, the Rooney Rule was largely ineffective in cultivating diversity in hiring. Enter the development of the Mo-rule. 

The Mo-rule

The Mo-rule in practice requires an equal distribution of underrepresented and represented candidates at the in-person interview stage. The hiring teams at LTSE approach this by identifying what crop of underrepresented candidates are missing from their team and dedicating their resources to finding talent that matches those profiles.

They also ensure there’s a one-to-one ratio of underrepresented and represented candidates. 

Actionable tip: Review the representation data after each hire with your team to continually reiterate the hiring strategy.

Building the Hiring Team

LTSE focuses on assembling interviewers with the perspectives, training, and insights required to qualify each candidate for the skillsets needed.

Nenonene’s team then develops an interview panel comprised of employees who are well versed in the importance of the candidate experience. This focus is developed through monthly training sessions for all interviewers to empower them to conduct structured interviews. 

Actionable tip: Create a lights-on monthly training program to both grow your interviewer pool and to also keep your existing interviewers well trained. 

Delivering on the Candidate Experience

LTSE’s approach is focused on the candidate relationship, and getting to know the candidate at the first interview call. The interviewers share unique information about their teams and walk the candidates through the position’s requirements.

Actionable tip: Be as transparent as you can with your candidates, with both the good as well as the challenging. A realistic expectation is far more appreciated that a hype session that will invariably leave a new employee feeling dupedA lack of information about essential aspects of a role or the company may hinder delivering the best candidate experience. LTSE provides each candidate with unique documentation outlining everything they need to know about the role being considered so that each candidate has a clear picture of role expectations, the team dynamic, and the company culture. 

Be sure to check out our ebook on the importance of solid candidate relationships in your hiring strategy.

5 Key Takeaways: Building an Employer Brand Strategy at Postmates

Postmates created a great employer brand strategy.

How’s your employer brand strategy? 

Amid The Great Resignation, compensation and role alignment aren’t enough to snag top talent. 

Creating a smart employer branding strategy attracts more ideal candidates by providing a clear, specific, and unique point of view as to what life is like within your organization. Employer branding also demonstrates company values in a way that helps candidates see themselves with a given company. 

And now more than ever before, company values matter deeply to job seekers. This is why taking the time to build a solid employer brand strategy is the secret sauce in capturing top talent. 

Every TA leader understands the importance of company culture as it’s seen through the eyes of current employees. By leveraging that knowledge, hiring teams can develop an authentic employer brand strategy to appeal to their ideal candidates.

Here are five key takeaways from the webinar with Pete Lawson, former VP of Talent at Postmates, on building an authentic employer brand strategy at Postmates. 

1. Turn on the Discovery Channel

Discovery interviews are the first step toward building an authentic employer brand strategy. They provide the opportunity to see the company through the eyes of the employees. Lawson’s team asked employees questions such as:

What’s it like to be a part of the Postmates team?
What’s their background?
What are their goals?
What’s compelling about their organization?
What do you feel is working?
What do you feel is not working?
Where do you feel undervalued?

Determining the company’s strengths and weaknesses from an employee’s perspective was valuable feedback that allows them to continuously improve as an organization.

Talent competitor analysis was important for Lawson’s team to pinpoint who Postmates was competing against for talent, and how they are currently showing up in the market. The team focused on key areas including:

How’s their employee value proposition (EVP)?
What’s their voice or tone?
What’s their brand reach?
What does their community engagement look like?
What do their mobile apps look like?
How can they gain a competitive edge as an organization?

A digital audit was deployed and combed through their primary mediums including:

  • Career site
  • Job description pages
  • Corporate blog
  • Social media
  • Glassdoor page
  • Github

The team used this method to identify some of their biggest gaps, to gather opportunities for improvement, and to determine where they needed to build more infrastructure. 

2. Communication Is Key During Development

The second phase was to utilize all of the insights collected during phase one to develop a brand narrative, finalize a digital recruitment strategy, and iron out the EVP narrative.

Lawson and his team developed a methodology as to what makes the experience of working at Postmates so unique. They accomplished this through a series of workshops where employees from different departments across the organization provided a wide range and variety of experiences and opinions. 

Using this valuable employee insight, they delivered recommendations for the tagline, the brand’s voice and tone, and the EVP framework. Hearing directly from Postmate employees about what makes the company culture strong, unique, and conversely the areas in which they could improve, was one of the driving forces behind how they arrived at this EVP. 

At this stage, it was crucial to align with the marketing team to get buy-in from them early on in the process. Having meetings early on helps all members understand the end goal, and can provide a roadmap toward the final destination. Getting that buy-in at this stage ensured that they had the opportunity to collect critical information, and understand who on the team they should expect to meet with on a regular basis.

These early stage meetings also allowed them to gain a greater understanding of their concerns regarding this project, what they are most comfortable with, and even some aspects that they’d prefer to avoid during this development phase.

During these meetings, they created project milestones to hit along the way, and gave access to the branding toolkit, and any other materials they had from a branding standpoint. This helped them stay on brand as they developed their strategy and finalized the EVP. 

Having in-depth communication with the team from the start allowed them to build their treatment, and establish themselves as the experts. They were then able to communicate that they understood the objective, company mission, and the desired outcome.

3. The Execution

After all of the hard work that was put in during phases one and two, the execution phase is where they really started to have fun with it. During the execution, they:

  • Rolled everything out
  • Activated the EVP
  • Built out the content creation and analytics dashboard
  • Created the job posting guide
  • Implemented the technology for candidate experience

At this stage, they leveraged the EVP and brand narrative to establish their target audience. They asked themselves what kind of personae and personalities they hoped to attract.

At Postmates, one of the key targets was to highlight female engineers and employees wherever and whenever possible. By including testimonials and photos on their microsites, they increased female representation, which encouraged more women to apply.

This is a much more effective method than simply saying, “we are hiring female engineers.” It was important to them that they really represent the female population, and share their first-hand experiences working at Postmates. This was a great way for candidates to connect with and relate to actual employees, rather than simply hearing the information from a recruiter.

4. Recruiting Ideal Candidates

A job posting guide was built to help make job posts more candidate-centric and on-brand, outlining key sections, examples, templates, and messaging resources as they related to the targeted personae. These would ultimately empower hiring managers to write better job descriptions with the narrative they created. The team wanted the job descriptions to paint a picture of the impact the candidate would make within the organization, and provide more detailed descriptions of the role.

As they interviewed prospective engineers, the hiring team heard a variety of stories concerning the impact they’re making during the COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted to ensure that they’re intentionally highlighting what it was like being an engineer at Postmates during COVID-19, and how their employees were treated during this time.

Video content was key. The team created employee-generated video content during the pandemic, and highlighted some of the shared experiences of employees throughout the organization. They made it a point to highlight their female talent, and how they are empowered to make an impact by building technology to support at-home workers during the pandemic.

This powerful campaign allowed Postmates to give candidates an intimate look at the impact their engineers have in their organization, using raw experiences to generate a narrative to help articulate the company-wide impact engineers have at Postmates. 

The employee-generated video content provided a rare opportunity for potential candidates to build a virtual connection with the employees they’re seeing, who they could easily look up on LinkedIn to verify identity. They prioritized authenticity, and gave candidates an opportunity to envision themselves working at their company.

Candidate experience was next level with GoodTime. Postmates’ team hosted the material that was created during the first couple of phases to create content for their site. Each touchpoint that the candidates had throughout their interview experience was imbued with this new branding and messaging. GoodTime freed up time on the employee side, allowing more time to create content and take care of bespoke, personal details to further elevate the candidate experience. The goal here was to provide candidates with the same feeling that a customer would get from interacting with their brand. It was also important that their mobile app would make it quick and easy for candidates to schedule their interview.

5. Preparation Equals Payoff

After all of this planning and execution, the Postmates hiring team was excited to see the fruits of their labor. Theming the strategies described in the above sections, they saw:

  • 80% increase in applications between September 2019 and September 2020
  • 91% increase in female applicants, an essential part of their mission
  • 30% increase of minority applicants and a significant increase in candidate quality
  • 50% of their applicant pool either “met” or “exceeded” the job requirements, and 
  • 46% of applicants were considered a “strong match” compared to September of 2019

They saw a huge increase in engagement on LinkedIn, and were  honored with a number of awards, including:

  • Best Place to Work in the Bay Area
  • Company With Best Benefits – New York
  • Company With Best Benefits – Seattle
  • Company With Best Benefits – Bay Area
  • Best Paying Company – Bay Area

If you want to watch the full session, check it out here. 

Redemption: Hiring Returning Citizens with Next Chapter

Kenyatta Leal, Director of Reentry for Next Chapter, at a panel discussion, discussing returning citizens.

As part of our fireside chat series, GoodTime CEO Ahryun Moon sat down with Kenyatta Leal, Director of Reentry for Next Chapter, to learn about the challenges of hiring returning citizens. They talked about the program’s beginnings, as well as the fears and stereotypes that returning citizens are forced to contend with upon release, and how talent leaders, executives, and entire companies can actively participate in this system-breaking initiative. 

“Regardless of our past, none of us are beyond redemption. And if we try hard enough, we can build a new way for our lives.”

— Kenyatta Leal, Director of Reentry at Next Chapter

Founded by Slack in 2018, Next Chapter is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways for returning citizens to obtain gainful employment in the technology sector. To date, Next Chapter has placed 11 returning citizens across four companies, including Dropbox, Square, and Zoom. 

The Last Mile

The Last Mile was originally launched in 2010 as an entrepreneurial program that connected participants with volunteer business leaders to develop business plans and pitches. Through this program, Kenyatta met Duncan Logan, Founder and CEO of RocketSpace. The two developed a connection, and Kenyatta asked Duncan if he would hire him upon release. Ultimately, Duncan said yes, and kept his word. 

Slack and Next Chapter

Kenyatta was released from San Quentin on July 3, 2013. A week later, he began working at RocketSpace, determined to add value in any and every way possible. Then, The Last Mile pivoted away from entrepreneurship and focused on a robust coding curriculum. This included full stack development, Javascript, CSS, and other languages.

In 2016, Slack CEO Stuart Butterfield visited the program and became inspired. He gave a Last Mile student a scholarship to the coding bootcamp, Hack Reactor, and offered him job candidacy at Slack. The candidate graduated Hack Reactor, but failed the Slack technical assessment. When post-mortem was conducted, Slack found that the failed assessment was not due to lack of skill on the candidate’s part, but rather the lack of bandwidth of the hiring engineer to bring the candidate up to speed.

This started Next Chapter. Today, Next Chapter provides support to both the incoming candidate as well as the engineering team of the partner company so that the team can maintain speed and trajectory while onboarding a Next Chapter graduate. 

Next Chapter Grows

Kenyatta left Rocketspace in 2018 to work with The Last Mile fulltime to develop Next Chapter, and create a transition plan for returning citizens to enter the tech sector workforce successfully. The following year, Next Chapter became an independent organization. They now recruit candidates nationwide. 

Excerpt of Q&A

AM: What are the biggest stereotypes returning citizens must face when transitioning to employment in the tech space?

KL: There are many, but the biggest one is once a criminal, always a criminal. That people coming out of prison are just going to commit more crimes. It’s reinforced by TV and movies. It’s the worst thing we see on the 6 o’clock news—this is what people believe about people in prison. Most people have never gone to a prison; they don’t know some of the challenges these folks have to deal with to reenter society. 

People who are leaving incarcerated settings are often underestimated. People think they don’t have skill or they don’t have talent or they don’t have anything valuable to contribute to society, or even a company. 

KL: When I think of these stereotypes, what it all comes back to is fear. When people are coming out of prison, remember: they’re people. There are fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers.

They’ve made bad choices, obviously. But once they pay their debt to society, they should be able to come home and be able to build a life for themselves. We—out in the world, the taxpayers—we have an opportunity to decide what kind of world they come back to. Every single one of us has a role to play in this. 

AM: How do HR leaders prepare for questions and concerns from their employees surrounding recruiting returning citizens?

KL: Get proximate to the issue of justice reform. Life is a process of growth and development and part of that growth is educating ourselves about people and issues, and the challenges people face coming home. 

AM: What are key moves companies can take to insure successful implementation of this program? 

KL: Find a champion who can work across teams and get buy in. Understand the issue, and create a space where people can share concerns. Our program focuses on support, and wraparound services so that they can be successful. 

Learn more about partnering with Next Chapter by reaching out at info@nextchapter.org.