Journey into Hiring Diversity

There was a call today asking for Sundar to resign from the CEO role of Google around, as the New York Times has phrased it, “diversity drama”. Diversity is a touchy subject these days, and we were proud to see a fellow Founder’s comments on their approach to diversity in last week’s Journey post.

We’ve been in a mad scramble for so long to find good and talented staff at my beloved, and at startup hiring rates, that it’s hard for me to fathom the problem of diversity. My instinct is that an emphasis on diversity is helpful for companies that are hiring en masse, for example, companies that are staffing up a new office or new department where there are 20+ roles to fill. Clausehound is not as old and has fewer employees than many of the companies that are undergoing diversity scrutiny, and therefore at Clausehound every hire is a critical hire and one for which our considerations are primarily talent and the willingness to work for limited budget and with limited direction.

We have a simple hiring rule - borrowed, but taken to heart - we look for “swans” - folks that are smart, works hard, ambitious, and are nice. If we are hiring for a management role, add on creativity, and the ability to deal with uncertainty. Looking around at our staff with its stratified gender, age and cultural make-up, I haven’t felt as though diversity is a problem we struggle with presently. But I do find myself wondering what actions I can actively take to think about diversity when hiring, and to that end here are five things that I worry about as our company grows:

  1. We’ve gone through a lot of ugly ducklings to find the “swans”. Will we continue to hire “swans” as we get bigger? How can I instill that thinking in our recruiting?
  2. As we grow can we continue to think of every hire as a critical hire?
  3. Applying that thinking, which roles will benefit more from diversity than from conformity?
  4. There’s an inherent bias to wanting to work with people that you’ve “sized-up” to be of an appropriate fit for a certain job (stereotypes are a time-saver?) And it’s also widely documented that people will naturally want to hire people who are similar to themselves. Trying to fight against this bias - who on our team will actively drive diversity in hiring?
  5. If the approach is to stage several rounds of interviews for every role to ensure diversity, what’s the balance between ensuring a diverse workplace, and just getting stuff done?

I’m open to suggestions!

Written by Rajah. Rajah Lehal is Founder and CEO of Rajah is a legal technologist and technology lawyer who is, together with the Clausehound team, capturing and sharing lawyer expertise, building deal negotiation libraries, teaching negotiation in classrooms, and automating negotiation with software.