Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives

Ep306 Real Talk with Rosie: In the War for Talent, Candidates Become Casualties

March 16, 2022 Rosie Yeung Season 3 Episode 306
Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives
Ep306 Real Talk with Rosie: In the War for Talent, Candidates Become Casualties
Show Notes Transcript

This episode is all about the experiences of racialized people looking for work. Job hunting is hard enough as it is; but add on to that being Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and any other racialized identity that isn’t white – and it’s even harder.

This is the 3rd in the series of 4 LinkedIn Lives that I’m re-sharing as podcast episodes, so you loyal listeners also get all the amazing career advice my guests provided.

There’s a reason why it’s just me on this episode, without any of the people I spoke to. It’s because they don’t feel safe saying this out loud, in public.

So companies, employers, recruiters – please pay attention to what these job seekers have to say about the way they experience your hiring process. If you want to treat people more equitably and inclusively, and diversify your work force – the way you’re working isn’t working.

And if you’re a racialized job seeker, I hope you feel validated and less alone as you hear these stories. Trigger warning, you may not want to hear more about a frustrating process right now, and that’s OK. Please take care of yourself. Either way, please know you’re not crazy, and you are being heard.

In this episode, you’ll learn about these traumatic job seeker experiences:

  • The Cone of Silence
  • The Gated Community Effect
  • Hypocritical Job Descriptions
  • Unequal Burden of Proof
  • Unequal Distribution of Power

Link to episode transcript here.

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Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.

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Ep306 - Real Talk with Rosie: In the War for Talent, Candidates Become Casualties 


[intro music begins]

Welcome, JEDI Visionary! Thanks for tuning in to the Changing Lenses podcast. This is the 3rd in the series of 4 LinkedIn Lives that I’m re-sharing as podcast episodes, so you loyal listeners also get all the amazing career advice my guests provided.

This episode is all about the experiences of racialized people looking for work. Job hunting is hard enough as it is; but add on to that being Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and any other racialized identity that isn’t white – and it’s even harder.

There’s a reason why it’s just me on this episode, without any of the people I spoke to. It’s because they don’t feel safe saying this out loud, in public. It’s really sad, the number of people I’ve spoken to who tell me, “I can say this to you Rosie, but I could never tell my boss/colleagues/network.” They know they’re putting their career and livelihood at risk.

Even recruiters who are racialized and see the discrimination and bias within their own firms, were too afraid to come on the podcast even anonymously, because they were worried their firm would still find out.

So companies, employers, recruiters – please pay attention to what these job seekers have to say about the way they experience your hiring process. If you want to treat people more equitably and inclusively, and diversify your work force – the way you’re working isn’t working.

And if you’re a racialized job seeker, I hope you feel validated and less alone as you hear these stories. Trigger warning, you may not want to hear more about a frustrating process right now, and that’s OK. Please take care of yourself. Either way, please know you’re not crazy, and you are being heard.

[intro music ends]


Rosie: Good morning everybody. I'm glad that you made it here and are taking time out of your day. Today we are talking about the war for talent and I'll explain later why I really hate that term, but in the war for talent candidates become casualties. Now I know that is a pretty bold statement. And if you're an employer or a recruiter, you might feel taken aback or maybe even offended by it. That's okay, because in today's session, I am going to share some real life war stories of the many, many, many job seekers that I have spoken with over the last year. But really also their experiences and my experiences over decades that do testify to this truth. And if you are an employer, these are the stories of the other 999 job applicants that you didn't hire for your job and what they thought of you during that process. Now, just as importantly we are going to be looking at why the traditional recruiting methods that we've used since like the 1950's, like mad men days are not just harming job seekers, but they are actually harming you as well as employers. My career experiences are actually why I'm here today or a huge reason for why I'm here today. Because I have been hired, fired, promoted, rejected, hired, other people, fired other people, done the gamut and seen things from both sides. You could say that I have been trained to recruit people. Particularly from my HR background and experience. I don't know if you've noticed this, but if you are a team leader, department manager. You're in charge of hiring people for your team, but you're not always trained or generally never trained on how to recruit and how to hire effectively. So I am interested in your experience because I have found even as a professional HR person, recruiter and team leader, people manager, that of all the hiring that I've done and I've done quite a bit. I may be 50/50 in success. And by success I mean how well the person performed in the job or fit in with a team or whatever, compared to what I thought when I was hiring. All of us, when we hire people, we generally feel pretty confident, right? Like we're sure we made the right decision and we go through a very rigorous process, but it's not just me, according to a study by Leadership IQ. And I'll post this in the comments at the end. There's a study and several other articles out there that say about half of new hires, don't work out within the first 18 months across all job levels. So 50% success rate, which I didn't do anything formal to figure out my stats, but that feels about right. About half and half. 50% success rate, especially in a company that probably generally doesn't aim for a coin cost to see if they will do well. That's really frustrating, right. And the process itself is extremely frustrating. We're going to talk about the candidates perspective specifically today, but I'm going to guess that you also have some frustrations with the process.

We're going to share some ideas about how you can make your company and the hiring process that you follow in general, more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. If this is a goal for you and your organization to not only hire good people, talented people, but also to do that in a way that promotes diversity and equity and inclusion, chances are you've already tried some initiatives. Maybe it's some unconscious bias training, maybe it's audits, hiring people to audit your policies and your process to see if there's any discrimination in them. Those are pretty standard. And now that we're in 2022, can you believe it? We're in 2022, some organizations may have already taken this on because we've seen a real push and impetus for this in the last couple of years. It's true. Yes. That we all have unconscious biases and yes, there is inherent bias and exclusion in the traditional recruiting process itself. And maybe in the corporate policies that you're not aware of. But I also happen to believe that 99.999% of us are not racist. Maybe we were not anti-racist. And if you're wondering what the difference is between anti-racist and not racist check out Ibram X. Kendi's book, how to be an anti-racist. It's fantastic.

But generally speaking, I think we are all good people, good intentions. I'm willing to bet without any scientific data or stats to come out here, that none of us are hiring people, thinking, you know what? I'm not going to hire a black person. I'm going to set out to only hire white people or only cis-gendered people. I'm not going to hire queer people. And none of us are saying that intentionally in our hearts at all. Somehow though, we are still ending up with workplaces that look like this.

This came out in the end of 2020, it's a snapshot of a photo from the Globe and Mail, which is a Canadian national newspaper. And it is showing headshots of the CEOs of the top, whatever companies of the TSX. So arguably these are the people at the pinnacle of their success. And when we think about success in business, we'd likely hold these individuals up as standards because they've made it right. They are the CEO's, top of their company. Now I didn't go and ask. So I don't know how people self identify. It's not a great idea to just go by looks. That's its own form of bias. So I fully want to acknowledge and admit that first off. But you can see that it's very white male centered and yes, this is not representative of everybody in their company, but I'm using this photo specifically to kind of, a picture speaks a thousand words and indicate that when we are evaluating, who's the best candidate for the job, who's qualified , what, you know, executive presence looks like. If these are the role models and examples that we have for ourselves, then this is essentially what we're trying to emulate. So without consciously anyone saying, I don't want to hire this race or that ethnicity, if these are the standards of success we're holding up for ourselves, then we're kind of leading towards, this is what we want for our organization.

The other thing I do want to still point out is that the point of the article was talking about a lack of gender equality, which is absolutely true. This is one screenshot that actually shows quite a lot more women that are than are proportionally in the hundred something, I think there was maybe 10 or 11 women in total, out of the hundred something CEOs. But again, there's not a lot of racial diversity or ethnic diversity among the women either. So all that to say. The way we've been working, isn't really working if we are trying to inspire and bring in more diverse workplaces. And I would say also that the process that we've had diversity and inclusion aside, isn't a great process period.

I'm wondering if any of you as hiring managers or recruiters, have you ever asked for feedback from the candidates that you rejected? So maybe not the hundreds or thousands of people that just apply online, although they are candidates you've rejected, but even from an interview process. You've probably interviewed more than one person before you hired. Have you ever asked what their experience of the recruiting process is .And especially if you're an employer that uses an external recruiter or even an internal recruiter, because ultimately the candidates relationship is with you as the team leader and hiring manager. So as the hiring manager, how has your candidate both successful and unsuccessful experienced your organization through your representatives who might be external recruiters or could be internal recruiters. Let me know if anyone's ever actually asked for feedback. I know of one organization who has, and it actually spoke a lot to, I think the way they are trying to make people feel included by at least understanding their experience. And that's what we're going to start to do today.

The reason why I really want to focus on the candidate experience as a starting point is because I believe under the Changing Lenses methodology or approach that I take to JEDI. That understanding and not just accommodating but welcoming diversity of thought, diversity of experiences. We're not just talking about skin color, but people experience corporate life, people experience business, people experience work, and people experience the world in very different ways. Our biases generally start from the source of, we only see the world in our way, and that is formed by our family, our social connections, education, all these things that we've grown up with. That's why they become sort of an unconscious or inherent or just something that we don't even realize our biases. So I want to start by looking through the eyes of different people, people from diverse backgrounds. And I don't know if I'm sure, probably most of you, if you're holding a job, you had to interview for that job. So you've gone through the job seeking process, but when's the last time you really thought about what that experience is like. And when have we even allowed for the emotions of a job search. We all know from a recruiter perspective, it's not fun. It's stressful. Like there's intense pressure right now, especially with the great resignation; to find top talent and to retain them. It's a lot of work and it is stressful on both sides. So I do want to give you the heads up that before I go into the actual candidate stories and experiences, which I'm going to do very shortly, that I will say periodically, TW, which means trigger warning. And I'm saying that because as employers listening and also as candidates, but especially as employers, some of the things I'm going to point out. Some of the things that I'm going to say I think really need to change may cause you to feel initially defensive or you might reject those ideas and that's okay. That is perfectly normal. When I say TW or trigger warning, it's not to try to tell you to accept all the ideas or you can't be defensive. It's to be just aware and present with what you are feeling in the moment, recognize your response. It doesn't matter what your response is. Just recognize that. And if it is an initial rejection of the idea because I've experienced this too. As business people trained and educated and in Western business culture, we are great at justifying the way we do things. We are great at thinking and saying things like, but that's best business practice or, well, that's not practical. That's not feasible to do it any different way. It'd be impossible, right? So it's natural for that stuff to come up. Please allow yourself to experience that, feel that, recognize it. And then I'm going to ask you to lay that aside. Not to change your opinion about things, but just lay aside your immediate reaction, if it is negative, because that stops you from hearing and stops you from recognizing any validity that will be coming from a different approach.

All right. So enough rambling on and preaching. I think you're probably, you're like, why Rosie tell us already, what is it that these experiences are? Let's get started with talking about that. So are you ready? We're going to hear the candidate side of the story. Okay. By the way, just to clarify, all the candidates that I interviewed in my informal survey were racialized individuals. But I'm also going to draw in experiences of people who are men, women, white, different races because I've had the privilege of journeying with them and networks of people just looking for work, especially during COVID layoffs. So that's the group of people this is coming from.

And actual words that candidates have used to describe this first theme is black hole. Cone of silence. And they're speaking about that thing, the online application system. The system doesn't work. Like as a recruiter you know, you get flooded with thousands or hundreds of applications, and it actually promotes a very impersonal commodification and treating people like numbers because you just can't handle the volume. That's the way this thing is set up. So I think we all know inherently what some of the pitfalls of the; just send in your application online. And I don't mean online internet as the problem. It could be by mail. It doesn't really matter, right? It's this, you don't even get to hear from the candidate directly. And on the candidate side, this is something I didn't really consider before. But aside from just not even getting an interview or not getting to speak to you and make their case for why they're qualified, that's one problem. But the cone of silence and the black hole they describe is also a lack of feedback. Again, trigger warning. So the first thought that came to my mind, maybe to yours is. How could we possibly respond to all of the job applications that we get? Of course we can't, and that's why we have the standard caveat at the bottom. We will only respond if you are qualified. Don't call us. We'll call you.

So putting that aside for a moment. Here's what the candidates were saying. There's no feedback. So they don't even know why they didn't qualify. They don't know if their resume is ugly or full of typos. They don't know what's basically holding them back from you picking them over the person next to them. And if they don't know, they can't improve. We know this just from basic performance management standards, right. That we are encouraged as people managers to give feedback, we want to encourage personal development. So if all the candidates that are sending stuff through don't know why they're not getting paid. Don't know if they're actually doing something wrong or they just aren't the best qualified. They'll never be able to improve and the same, not so great resumes maybe are hitting the same system that you're going to keep getting this stuff. So it's not helping you either as a hiring manager, if you are getting the same whatever is deficient or not so great about the applications. It's not helping anybody, they can't improve and you're not getting any better information or quality. So that was one issue. One theme.

Very closely related to that, or partly as a result of that is something I am calling the gated community effect. I talked in the very first of this series of four LinkedIn lives about how extreme barriers are set up and these barriers again, not intentional to say I'm going to exclude certain genders or races or ethnicities or people with different abilities. That's not what the gate is actually publicly saying. But all the candidates know because they've experienced this. They cannot get in. They can't get to the interview table if they are just applying online. They have expressed to me, the frustration of the people who can have the conversation, who knows someone in the organization. It may not be a relative or friend that directly, but just somehow if they have the access to the network to speak to the head of marketing, because they want a marketing job, they're the ones who can get in to the interview table to then actually make a case. Resume is ineffective. It's not helpful for me as a recruiter to really know how qualified that person is.

One candidate expressed to me that the biggest frustration, he actually felt quite comfortable with his interview skills. But it was the fact that he couldn't even get in. If he could just talk to someone, he felt that he could better explain what it is that he can do, and also better help you as an employer, figure out if he can actually be capable of what it is that you need. Because similarly, all they know about you as a piece of paper or an online posting of you describing what the job description is, how well does that really convey the competencies and how people work together and what is you need that person to do. You might be thinking that, well, you know, the system is working if it's blocking people out, right? Because we only want the best quality candidates, the qualified people to get through the gate to get in.

In a gated community first of all. It's an issue because the inequity lies in who knows the people on the inside in order to have a chance of getting to the interview table. And if you're thinking that well, the people who can't get in; it should be a fair process. I mean, even if you know someone on the inside, generally you send them back out, tell them to apply online. So it's all objective and we follow the right process. I'll get into that one in a second. But it still doesn't work as designed, or it does work as designed because people get blocked out and it's not because they are not qualified. Here's my personal example. When I was, you know, young starry-eyed university, co-op student, trying to get my very first co-op job. And in the accounting profession, I won't get into the nitty gritty details, but in the accounting profession, it's super important that you get into one of the big accounting firms. That is where all the great opportunities are. It looks excellent on your resume. It's a similar idea to getting into a top law firm or a top school. It just sets you up for success down the road. Basically from a perception and a marketing standpoint, you want to get into one of the big firms. So when I applied, the co-op process was very similar to an online job process. It's supposed to be objective. They have a whole rating and ranking system. You put in your application, you wait for the rating system to spit out what the results are and you either get a job or you don't get job. I didn't get a job at first. Now it was a little bit harder at the time. I'm not trying to make excuses for myself. It was a little bit harder at the time of the economy. The firm that I ended up with only hired four co-op students for the entire year. But still I wasn't considered among the very, very top. And I wasn't comfortable doing those things that all the students knew they had to do to network. Like joining the accounting students association or going to all the mixer events and stuff like that. I am an introvert. I am an Enneagram one personality type. It's draining. And I felt just awkward as a whatever 19 year old, how well are 19 year olds trained to speak corporate small talk and network with companies in order to try to get these professional jobs. So I didn't get a job. I was very, very, very privileged that I worked at a summer job because my mom worked in this totally unrelated company, but she did accounting related roles. And I happened to be in a department where my boss was the spouse, the partner of a partner in the accounting firm I eventually ended up at. And I'm a competent person. I knew I had the skills, I guess it didn't show up in the recruiting process, but my boss saw that I was skilled. And when I didn't get the job with any accounting firm. Because I knew him and he was the partner of someone. And then long story short, I ended up getting an interview after getting rejected from the co-op system. And I ended up getting a job. Now, I actually feel still a bit of stigma telling you this story, because I have that shame feeling of, I didn't get the job on my own merit. Therefore I must not deserve it. And I must not be as qualified as those other people who did get the job without having to know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. Now after 20 years, I don't see it as a flaw in myself or that I wasn't qualified because first of all, subsequent performance reviews and people who have hired me and how I've worked. I know I'm qualified. But the system wasn't designed to recognize that I was a qualified person. And the people who have access are able to bypass the systems, the online applications where you're faceless and nameless and nobody can, you know, you don't get a chance. I got a chance because I knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone. I had that privilege.

So many other people do not have that privilege. So many other people don't even know that that's how the system works. And this is partly how flawed and how broken the system is and what needs to change. Frankly, candidates recognize that this is what's happening. They know they're getting bypassed by the people who have access to these networks. And that is a huge part of the frustration. So that is the gated community effect.

All right. So the third theme that I found from candidates was meaningless job descriptions. Meaningless in a few different ways. First, we all know, cause this has happened.

And this is the thing. Now that I'm outside of a company. I feel comfortable saying this because I don't feel like I'm putting my job at risk. I may be putting client relationships at risk, but I'm committed to JEDI and I got to speak the truth now, right? So we all know a lot of times, job postings go up, not because you actually are looking for an external candidate, you already have a candidate in mind, or you have a really great referral or you want to promote some from within, but because you need to make the process seem fair and objective because that's what the HR policies are that are supposed to prevent discrimination and nepotism. You still got to post the job. Candidates know this too. Now okay, they don't all know this because again, they don't get told how the system really works. So they spend a lot of time prepping their resume and their cover letter and sending it in. And somehow even though the deadline was like a week away, as soon as the deadline goes down. Oh, the job is magically filled. So people who have been doing this for a while. Looking for jobs for a while recognize that, yeah, they know. They apply for the job and, you know, it's meaningless. Somebody actually already has a candidate in mind. But they just go through this process. So this supposedly objective process really isn't. That's one way that job postings are meaningless.

The second is have you seen what the qualifications and the listing and the bullet points of what's a candidate is supposed to do is actually. This is especially important for hiring managers. If you haven't been involved. Please make sure you're involved in reviewing and vetting and customizing every time you're posting a job. Don't just delegate it to the recruiter, whether internal or external. Actually look at what the job description is saying and think about how relevant that is and how much it really reflects what you're asking the person to do. We don't have enough time to go into all of the things about job descriptions here. I actually cover this in a workshop that I have to try to change these systems because I recognize how meaningless the job descriptions are. But for now, I'll just say that, I think if you were to look at the requirements. Maybe the reason why you're getting some job applications or resumes that you can just scan and like, what the heck, why is this person applying for this job? They're not even close to qualified. One of the reasons that happens is because so often job descriptions get posted with; basically looking for a unicorn. The unicorn candidate. So that super special, perfect, fill the job candidate. That's the only person who could actually meet all those qualifications. So then, career counselors are teaching people, especially marginalized and racialized people who are like, oh, I don't know if I'm qualified to do that job because it's almost impossible. Apply anyway. This isn't just for jobs.

I've seen this firsthand just recently last year when I was applying to be a keynote speaker for a conference. The description of what they wanted for the speaker was a laundry list again for, super experienced, many years, has done this, proven that, demonstrated an ability to do XYZ. And I was like, oh, I haven't done. I mean, I'm just starting out as a keynote speaker. I know I can do this, but I don't have exactly what you're describing here to prove to you that I can do this. I applied anyway. And then lo and behold, they're like, oh great. We're so glad you applied. You're exactly what we're looking for. And my first response was, Then why the heck did you put all that other stuff in the call for speakers? If I don't have those, but you're saying I'm exactly what you're looking for. So folks for your job postings and your job descriptions, say what you mean and do what you say. If you actually need something, tell them what it is you need. And if you say you need it, you better actually need it.

 A fourth theme that I noted. Inequality that creates a heavy burden on candidates. And it's an unequal burden. Burden of proof. It is part of the symptom of how power is unequally distributed. And it's important to know this. You might think again, trigger warning. You might think well as employers. Yeah, it's not that we're power hungry, but of course we're naturally in the position of power. We have the jobs, they want our jobs. But we also know we want to attract talented candidates, right. Because we hold the money as companies, as employers. Yeah, there is a large degree of power there, but it doesn't have to be as unequal as it is.

Here's some examples. One job seeker I spoke to shared about how they were asked to, in one of their interview stages. I can't remember if it was the first or second. But they were asked to provide a response to a case study. And sometimes this does happen. I think we're asked to provide a portfolio of our work. I was asked before to pretend I'm presenting to a Board of Directors and prepare a whole presentation on a specific issue. But that already is; it's unpaid work. You're asking them to provide something that if they do a good job, it has value for you, but A who owns the rights to that work. In the case of this person who spoke to me, she was told that she wouldn't have the rights to that work. And in fact the hiring person told them that you were not allowed to use it in their own portfolios or for anything else. Even though what they were asked to speak about or present on related to information that was publicly available. So that's not okay. Like, why are you asking them to basically solve your problem for you or provide you with content and information that you could use as helpful. And they don't really even own it, so that's not okay. But also think about the amount of times or the amount of effort that people really end up having to put into this that is unpaid work. I spend a lot of time and effort on that presentation to the board and they recognize that, but it was sort of like a thank you. We really appreciate it, but this is the process we have to go through in order to figure that out. It's a very one-way relationship.

Oh, here's another example of literally one way. One person I spoke to who was a bit older, was laid off due to COVID. Further in their career. Not close enough to retirement that they could actually retire. Unfortunately, it's that uncomfortable spot where you need to keep working, but you've not looked for a job for 20 years. And this particular individual ended up having to do this job search during COVID where everything is online. And they described one experience as downright humiliating, where, because they were uncomfortable with it. They had to provide answers to screening questions through video, but it was one way. I picture those police station interview rooms that I see on the crime shows where, you know, it's a one way mirror. They can see you, but you can't see them. And so this person was asked to respond to a list of questions. It was timed. And it was all done through this portal, very impersonal. And she gave them the advantage that they looked for. They could see her, they could hear her, but she didn't have that same reciprocal relationship with them. I'm sure that there was good reasons. Again, nobody sets out to try to humiliate people. But that is how individuals end up feeling.

If we, as employers and recruiters expect to get honest answers to some very probing questions, why don't candidates get the same courtesy and respect to ask us very probing questions and expect to get honest answers. And I'm talking questions like what was the worst result from your last year's annual people survey? How many Indigenous people do you have on staff? How many Black people were denied promotion in the last five years with your organization? We all have heard the fluffy questions, right? That candidates are told. This is what's appropriate to ask. But we do not allow that equality, that equal footing of - you want to work with me, I want to work with you, but you need to know pretty much as much about me as I need to know about you. There's a real unequal burden of proof and power.

So let me try to kind of sum up and wrap up all the things that I just shared with you. These experiences that I've just described. I probably wouldn't classify them as racism or in the nice, neat box that we'd like to contain racism and discrimination in. What these candidates have experienced don't necessarily fall into that category. So let me go back again to those themes, and see how that actually ties in specifically around discrimination. In the first thing I talked about around online applications and that lack of feedback when people have no idea what's wrong. First of all, one individual told me that they spend a lot of money paying for coaches and resume writers or critiquers to try to help them. But because they don't know because they never get any feedback what's wrong. They have no idea if that money's being well-spent. And they need a job because they were laid off. So it's not like they have a ton of money to work with. So think about who has access to this. I have the benefit of working in professional settings, where I could have some free mentorship from really well qualified professional people and career coaches, or sometimes some of my companies paid for those benefits to be available to other people. So who are the people who have access to these really great resources to teach them and help them with resumes and networking and all the skills that they need to look for jobs? Who doesn't have access to that? Again, thinking about me going back to my very first job and how I couldn't get it. But thankfully, I worked in organizations and knew people who knew people. I had that privilege because my family had professional jobs and we had those connections. So who are the people who don't have those connections? Who are the people who don't have access to free professional mentorship? Low-income, generally marginalized, intergenerationally marginalized racialized individuals.

Gated communities, or the gated community effect. When people can't even get to the interview table. How do you bypass that black hole? The candidate that said, if you could just get to know me, if you could just meet me and hear me speak to you, just like how we, as employers can explain the job much better than trying to write it out in a job description. And you'll get a much better understanding for the company and the environment if we talk to people. How much better would you understand what the candidate has done and could do in the future? If you could meet them and talk to. But who is it that you're actually meeting and talking to? When we think about hiring the best candidate, because if that's a myth. This idea that we have to hire the best candidate for the job, maybe you're not even seeing the best candidates because they never made it to your interview table. So who are the individuals who have corporate executives, people willing to vouch for them, refer them into their contacts, make recommendations. Oh, you're looking for an accountant. Well, I know Rosie, she's actually a really good accountant. And who doesn't have those referrals? And who doesn't have access to those networks and people willing to vouch for them?

Power imbalance and the unequal burdens that result. Who are the people who feel confident enough that even though they don't seem to meet all of the laundry list of criteria on job descriptions, they'll still apply. Who even knows that that may be the case and that in fact, not everybody follows all those job criteria that's listed on there. Who knows what is actually fair and what's reasonable to accept and what they should push back on and then has enough power or feel secure enough or is willing to take the risk because maybe they don't a hundred percent depend on this job for income, no matter how much lower they may be paid in order to push back. Who has those alternatives?

So these are all systemic issues. And they're not systemic issues again, that originate from any one person thinking. I am going to make sure that I don't hire any pregnant women today. That's partly what makes it so hard to name. The discrimination and racism that are happening in our; well it's continued, it's not new. It's not so obvious. It's not so overt as I don't hire this kind of person. That's what makes it so hard to name and also why I think the term, TW, trigger warning. The idea and the concept that our Western society and Western business society. So Canada, US, England, english speaking countries. It is a white supremacy culture. Business culture, Western business culture is a white supremacy culture.

I understand that's not a pleasant term and nobody likes to think that. But again, I also recognize it's not saying people are white supremacists, like KKK or Hitler. This is what we've built up for ourselves when we follow these kinds of processes. And when the people who are already inside the gated communities, all happen to be white, because that's how the history has built up. And now we're looking for culture fit. We're looking to only bring in people who know, people who know people, well who are the people, who know people, who know people that are already in the gated communities. Maybe one of the most insidious things that comes out of this is how the white supremacy culture and how messages of not qualified that are actually exclusionary and discriminatory get internalized. I asked the question specifically to the racialized job candidates that I met with. Do you think you've ever experienced bias or racism or discrimination as part of either your career or your job search? And I think only one person said, no, I don't think so. Which made me think they just probably didn't recognize it because it's been internalized. And I say this because everybody else said, yes, I couldn't really name it for you or give you like, nobody came out and said that, but I see it in the way who gets picked for the job who does it, who gets promoted, who doesn't, who's at the top of the executives and C-suite, and who's not. It's happening. I just can't actually pinpoint for you how that's happened, but I do feel like it has. Again, what's your response to that? When we don't have, you know, stand up in court evidence, don't we tend to dismiss these things? That's how we're trained. That is what Western society has taught us. If you don't have hard scientific proof, then it can't be true, right. Or maybe it's true, but not enough for us to actually believe you.

Here's some actual examples of what I would say was internalized racism that the people themselves didn't even realize that they were being discriminated against. One was a student who was looking for an internship job, which is very normal. They hadn't graduated yet. And just the pain of online application after online application. Eventually they did manage to get a job. And so when I'd asked this candidate, this person, the question, do you think you experienced bias and discrimination? Like, I don't think so. I mean maybe, but not to my knowledge, but then when we talked about whether or not they negotiated their salary and how comfortable they felt negotiating salary, they said, no, I didn't negotiate. Like I didn't really think that was a thing for students, especially for an internship job. I was just grateful to get a job. So I just took whatever salary they gave and they weren't upset about this. It's not like they felt it was illegal, like it wasn't below minimum wage. But later on while they were working. Lo and behold, there's another intern who happened to be white. And this person I was speaking to is Black and the white person, the white intern, exact same level, not graduated from university, was making more. They paid that intern more than they paid the Black intern. I don't know how that happened. I don't know if the white intern negotiated and pushed for a higher salary. The point is that when I spoke to the Black person, the Black candidate in turn, who got the job. And they told me this, like, yeah, I didn't like it when it happened, but I didn't know that there's anything to do about it. And I said to them, so you have experienced discrimination. And they said, oh, I guess so. They didn't even think about it that way.

This is the way that systemic and ongoing discrimination and processes and policies that we've normalized then become internalized and say, well, I don't know that that is discrimination because at least I still have a job. At least I'm still getting paid. I'm getting paid minimum wage. Isn't that okay? No. It's not okay. Not when there's no reason for you not to be paid the same as your white colleague.

All right. So what can we actually start doing about this? Let's talk about some things that we could do right now. Some steps we can take right now. And again, TW you may not like these steps and that's probably a good sign because equity work is about redistribution of power. And we need to start redistributing, which means letting go of power or moving power away from who has the power. Companies and employers. So here what you could do as a company, as an employer is you can start dismantling systems. I talked about how most of the time candidates, especially the ones who don't have access to information or knowledge or how things work. You could actually fund and support job search training. So teaching them, key essential skills like communication. It's gonna take a while to change the system. I have to recognize that that's why I'm trying to create a coaching program for racialized job seekers, because we got to survive in the system that exists until it can fully change, which will take a longer. But they need to know how to write a resume, how to network, how to do all these things that are not equitable and good, but you got to do it in the meantime.

And it would be really great if they could get to a place of self-acceptance. I don't want to say self confidence because confidence, as we know, it has a lot of other connotations and it actually perpetuates a white supremacy system, but for them to be able to accept that they are qualified, they have value and they shouldn't settle or accept things that are beneath them or accept messages and say, well you're not actually qualified. Oh, you're just graduated. Therefore you can't really do anything worthwhile. Those are the messages that they are getting, especially when they're rejected over and over and over. And I'm saying specifically fund these programs because we need people who are trained in this as coaches, as maybe therapists or career counselors. It doesn't have to come from you, but for people who are low income or don't have access to programs that are not executive programs, that cost thousands of dollars, how are they supposed to get these high quality programs? So please fund them. It doesn't have to be through a not-for-profit for a charity. Actually, a lot of free programs are only open to super low income, maybe refugees or brand new comers. Not trying to, again, disparate or disrespect, anyone. This is the reality of what's out there. Either it's free and you can't even access it because it's only for a certain group of people or it's really, really expensive. So we need something in between to support individuals so that they can actually have a chance of getting to speak to you and show you what they can do. Do it for them. Not for you.

Okay, second thing. How can we reward them for their time? I don't mean actually paying them. I do want to point out that for recruiters it is painful. It's stressful. You go through a lot. At least you're getting paid. Job seekers. They are also going through a lot. It is stressful, it's painful. And they put a lot of time and effort. They're not getting paid for that. Trigger warning. What's your response? You're probably thinking, of course, why would you pay a job seeker to look for a job? But what would happen if nobody went through and filled out online applications and submitted to you? I'm not saying we should be paying people literally cash. But can we recognize that looking for a job is a job. And it is currently an unpaid job. So what benefits can we offer back? At least feedback. At least for people who get to interview with you. Something that I think we miss as human beings is how far basic kindness and courtesy goes. Numerous, numerous times I've experienced at other job candidates have experienced where it's just that cone of silence again. Just total ghosting by recruiters typically. Like internal or external doesn't matter, but companies who seem so eager at one point, and then suddenly you hear nothing from them, even though they said they were going to get back to you within X number of days or a week, and you hear nothing. Absolutely nothing. How do you think that makes us feel? And what messages are you sending. Again, we got to think beyond just the one perfect unicorn candidate that we're trying to get. Inclusion starts at the beginning. It starts at when we're actually inviting people to join our organization because we think our organization is great. Are you actually showing that your organization is great.

And the last thing I would really put as a call-out or call to action is. Address the source of the bias. Treat causes, not symptoms. So yes, these are systemic issues. Part of the system is people. So we, as people, myself included and our mindsets and our attitudes and our beliefs and perceptions about things is what makes that system. So we need to do some inner work. We need to address our triggers, me to think about our emotions. You need to allow emotions and consider actually what's happening in there and work on that as well. Not just policies and processes.

So folks that basically brings us to the end. If you'd like to learn more, I do have a workshop called radically re-imagined recruiting because that's what I think we need to do, where we start breaking apart, job descriptions and we break apart the resume and for each organization. Because each organization is different and each role is different. We look at how we can make the process more effective so that you're not just increasing the chances that you'll be more inclusive and be able to hire more diverse candidates, but actually also make the process more effective in general, in getting someone who will be successful and happy in your organization as well someone then that will really help you as a team leader and manager achieve your goals. Details about my Radically Reimagined Recruiting workshop are on my website at Thank you so much for being here. I would love to hear your feedback and your thoughts. I don't expect everyone to agree, and that is perfectly good and fine. So share your ideas. What have you tried? What's worked and what hasn't worked for you? Let's figure this out. Send me a message. Leave some comments here and I'd love to hear from you and hope to see you again next week.

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Rosie: That’s a wrap! This episode of Changing Lenses was produced and hosted by me, Rosie Yeung, with associate production by William Loo, on land that was taken from many Indigenous nations, including the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Today it is still the home of many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, with whom I seek to reconcile by learning the true history of colonization, including things that seemed legal and honourable – like treaties – but were often marked by fraud and coercion. I’m Changing my Lens by learning to see land, creation, even business and economy through Indigenous worldviews. And I’m making new friends and building relationships with Indigenous neighbours, cousins, aunties and uncles, in a genuine desire to know, love, and honour them, and live together in peace.

This podcast is one way I’m sharing what I learn to help settler-immigrant folks decolonize our thinking, and respond to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Miigwetch, 多謝, 謝謝, Merci, and Thank You.

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