I realized that as a founder I have both the opportunity and responsibility to prioritize diversity in our team and hiring practices says Salman.
By Salman Ansari (Founder, Rested)
This post originally appeared on Medium.
A few months ago, I started a new journey in my career — I’m cofounding a healthcare startup focused on helping people sleep better. I had planned on writing a post about my motivations, aspirations and goals, but today I want to talk about something more timely: diversity.
We’re putting the final touches on our first prototype, and have reached a point where we need to grow our engineering team. As I began setting up a hiring loop for the new role, I realized that as a founder I have both the opportunity and responsibility to prioritize diversity in our team and hiring practices.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure where to start, so I began my asking some really smart people (thanks shaherose!) what my first steps might be. Here are a few of the steps I’m working on / thinking about:
- Ensure the language in the job description is inclusive. Besides learning some key terms to avoid, I also have started to learn about how different groups perceive requirements in a job description. Reshma Saujani did an excellent TED talk on this topic, focusing on girls.
- Post in job boards that target diverse groups. I found a fantastic article by Eva Zheng which gives an incredibly thorough list of where to post your job openings to reach a diverse set of candidates.
- Create a welcoming office environment. It’s important to recognize that even with the best intentions of a hiring manager, the external perception of your company and office can discourage candidates. This challenge requires effort not just from yourself, but from your team. I’m hoping to start by initiating discussions about this topic, and eventually creating action items of how we can improve.
Ultimately, it became clear to me that ensuring your hiring process is inclusive toward a diverse group of candidates isn’t easy. You can’t just decide to do it one day, and expect results. It takes consistent action and dedication, both in terms of the language you use in your job descriptions, the locations where you post them, and the office environment that welcomes them. Also, the earlier you start to address it, the better — we all know the impact of ignoring technical debt, but are far less familiar with the dangers of ignoring diversity debt.
I’m just getting started, and I’ve already learned a lot. I’m excited by the prospect of growing as a founder and hiring manager. There is a fantastic pool of talented people out there, and it takes just a bit of effort to connect with them. It’s our collective responsibility in the hiring community to become better listeners to those who aren’t given a privileged voice. Let’s look forward to smarter, more inclusive, and healthier hiring practices.
Homebrew put together a fantastic document on how to approach diversity at startups. I found this incredibly useful, but also a bit intimidating given all the things I’m not doing well right now.
Shoutout to Sarah Press for her feedback on an early draft of this post.
Salman Ansari is a technologist and entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in software development. As the founding engineer of Involver, Salman built the core architecture of its platform, and led development and growth for the core product suite and engineering team. In 2012, Involver was acquired by Oracle, where Salman went on to lead critical initiatives including the integration of social products into Oracle’s marketing suite, and the launch of a new Oracle Social mobile application. Follow him on Twitter @daretorant