Any great event hides the hard work required to execute it.
WomenHack and HireVue’s April event was no exception. Members created meaningful network connections and explored future career possibilities but reinforced the importance of diversity to over 50 female designer, engineer, and product attendees from our local developer community.
Our recruiting team and some HR practitioners that work at HireVue share some of their insights into what makes a successful diversity recruiting event:
1) Know What You Want
When you begin your initiative, your company needs to understand what it’s seeking from diversity, what it will contribute to your business, and get buy in from the top down.
“You have to have complete support and the organization has to show that they are invested, it’s not just words about trying to recruit diversity. The community can see when an organization has a lot of females represented, particularly at the executive level,” Michelle Vargas, Senior Vice President of HR at HireVue points out. “It speaks a lot to the community if you do have representation at the top. It’s not just one thing that draws people and creates interest in the organization.”
"You have to have complete support and the organization has to show that they are invested. It's not just one thing that draws people and creates interest in the organization." - Michelle Vargas, SVP of HR, HireVue
With awareness and commitment from the CEO and the C-Suite, it’s critical to understand and define what you’re trying to achieve.
“It’s important to have two things,” Sarah Wheatley, Recruitment Coordinator at HireVue says. “First, ahead of time we had our goals, our objectives, the purpose behind this event. Is it to fill certain roles? What are the roles to fill? Is it to expose the company to diverse communities? Is it to put your executive team in front of this event to talk about what you’re doing with diversity? Those are key to understand so you can determine if your event was successful. The second is partnerships that can help you achieve those goals. We had collaborated with WomenHack in the past so we knew they were an organization we wanted to work with.”
2) Build Community Relationships
At the same time companies are seeking diverse representation in their future hires, diversity-oriented groups are seeking opportunities to further their mission and advance opportunities for their members. The key is creating partnerships that have a healthy overlap of common values.
John Grotegut, Head of Recruiting at HireVue gives advice on where to start: “Before you just Google it, reach out to your internal company. There are likely people who have membership in groups that foster diversity. You can have immediate connection into those groups instead of reaching out with a cold call.”
You don’t need to start with a well-funded diversity initiative to build partnerships. As Grotegut explains, “It may be daunting to start something like that, so there are organizations that can help to bring others to events like this. You don’t have to pay to start; you can easily start by volunteering.”
There are other low-cost options as well. Wheatley mentions, “I had someone reach out to me, that had a meet-up for a diversity group that featured a tour of our offices. Be open to allowing organizations to do a short meet-and-greet and tour the offices.”
Don’t limit yourself to just organizations: partnering with companies can help as well.
“It’s so much easier to partner with companies in the community, since they can already have large networks. Once you build those connections, they can help you find other events and groups.” - Sarah Wheatley, Recruiting Coordinator, HireVue
3) Plan Your Attendee Experience
Many networking events are held after hours. This can change how visitors experience your office or venue. It’s important to consider how attendees will perceive your company from beginning to end: from directions, parkings, access to your building, and more. Showing that you’ve invested in their experience can go a long way.
Morgan Powell, Recruiting Manager, reflects on some areas where we could improve the attendee experience: “I think we learned a lot from this event. There’s a lot that goes into ensuring you create a welcoming and inviting environment. For instance, make arrangements with the building maintenance teams to ensure lights are kept on, not just on your floor but in other areas too. These seem like small details but thinking about the experience from beginning to end will help the event run as smoothly as possible.”
“I think what’s cool is that we had support from our current employees, male and female. They were showing through their efforts that they value diversity in our company and on our teams,” Morgan Powell, Recruiting Manager, HireVue
To reflect your company’s commitment, strong participation from would-be coworkers can go a long ways.
4) Involve Hiring Managers
Grotegut stresses the importance of talking with hiring managers prior to the event to ensure talent acquisition teams and hiring teams are on the same page. “Over time, they know what it means to hire from a diverse candidate base. We talk to hiring managers to make sure they understand their role, what it means at the company, and help them understand how to look for talent, note that talent for us, and follow up.”
“Our hiring managers for technical talent really see the value of events like this. When they attended an event in the fall we got two really good hires. For this event they already had buy in and saw the value in it.” says Powell.
Ultimately strong participation has great benefits as well, Wheatley again: “Internally it has an impact when we let everyone know, we get a lot of responses and replies to emails. People internally are really proud that we were involved with organizations that encourage diversity. It helps to ignite their excitement for our culture and company.”
5) Plan Strong Follow Up
After the event if you don’t keep momentum going, much of your initial investment loses value.
For local female tech talent, Wheatley notices: “Women engineers are typically less likely than men to move around to different jobs. When they find a good, stable place they’ll stay there a long time, so building connections and relationships can be critical for hiring even a couple quarters down the road.”
Many of the attendees of your events won’t be looking actively for roles, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help them to better see who your company is and the value of a career there. You have to consider how to help develop a candidate who is in the “exploratory phase”.
Grotegut leverages networks like LinkedIn to keep in touch with a handful of candidates he and hiring managers made connections with. “I’ve had a dialogue with some of the candidates to talk about the event, about HireVue, it’s about bringing more people into our own network. If they know who we are in advance it’s more likely that they’ll show interest in six months.”
Building A Strong Pipeline
Diversity events are a powerful way to give back to the community, build a brand, and advertise your opportunities to underrepresented groups.
Wheatley explains, “Many people think diversity is just what people look like. What does diversity really mean? Diversity means something to everyone. For us we’re looking for not only the outward diversity but also people to further our goals of innovation, diversity of thought, challenge us and help make our company more creative.”
In the end that means thinking about diversity from the very early stages of the recruitment process, which diversity events can ultimately help influence.
“You have to drive diversity early on. You have to drive diversity from the top of the funnel and make your priorities for diversity heavy there. That’s why we do events like WomenHack, it drives awareness in our company, in our community and in diversity groups.” - John Grotegut, Head of Recruiting, HireVue
Ultimately it makes sense for diversity-minded hiring teams to put some thought into starting, or creating, impactful and connective diversity events.