Do Companies Need to Shake Up the Way They Find Tech Talent?
Because diversity of thought is just as important as finding the right skills.
Originally published by OZY on April 19, 2018.
Everything about business today is changing, from how companies are run to the way customers interact with brands they love. So it seems incredible that the most important part of building a successful company—recruiting talent—has barely changed at all. Writing résumés, filling out application forms, face-to-face interviews: That’s how it’s been done for decades. If ever there was something that needed disruption, it’s the way people apply for and get jobs.
The Harvard Business Review has estimated that as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.
By relying exclusively on traditional recruiting practices, businesses are not being exposed to the broadest variety of candidates. This is perhaps especially true in technology, a sector primarily composed of college-educated males. In fact, less than 20 percent of people studying computer science today are female and even fewer are Black or Hispanic, according to Ali Marano, Head of Technology for Social Good, Diversity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase.
"We want a diverse workforce, and for us that includes people who think differently and those that have had different life experiences."Ali Marano, Head of Technology for Social Good, Diversity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase
Liran Weizman was not an obvious candidate for a tech job—at least not according to traditional rules. In college, Weizman had studied for a double major in psychology and public relations, and only became interested in coding during her senior year. Still, Weizman enjoyed coding so much that she crammed in enough classes to earn a coding minor. But compared to peers who majored in computer science, she would appear underqualified within the confines of the standard recruitment rubric.
“No one thought a tech job was in the cards for me,” Weizman admits. She notes that her coding professor and even her own family said she lacked the skills for such a career.
Today, Weizman works as a technologist at JPMorgan Chase. In addition to her own ambition, she has the company’s Tech Connect program to thank—an initiative that recruits graduates interested in tech careers, but who lack the traditional technology background. Weizman earned the chance to receive weeks of specialized training and coaching with Tech Connect, and has been employed at JPMorgan Chase ever since.
“We want a diverse workforce, and for us that includes people who think differently and those that have had different life experiences,” explains Marano, who oversees Tech Connect. “Someone who isn’t traditionally trained in computer science will approach problems and technology with diversity of thought. We value and seek out those unique perspectives.” It is, after all, unique thought that breeds innovation.
Sticking to the exclusively age-old rules of recruitment, then, just doesn’t make sense. The lack of innovation within recruitment is a large-scale, deeply entrenched issue and needs serious investment.
Encouragingly, some forward-thinking enterprises are getting on board. JPMorgan Chase is seeking untapped talent by experimenting with various innovative recruitment methods, such as its Autism at Work program. Given that people on the autism spectrum often struggle in social situations, the program has cast traditional job interviews aside, with great results.
IBM is experimenting with video testimonials; and the consortium of companies, including Microsoft, are working with JPMorgan Chase to further develop practices for hiring candidates with autism.
As Marano says, “A diverse workforce drives our innovation.” Doing a more innovative job of recruiting is where the innovation really starts.