On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Giselle from ADP about designing inclusive tech.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 25 minutes
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Announcer: 00:00 This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today we have Giselle on from ADP and our topic is designing inclusive HR tech. Fascinating topic, and I can’t wait to talk to Giselle about it. Giselle, would you do us a favor and both introduce yourself and ADP?
Giselle Mota: 00:54 Sure. My name is Giselle Mota. I am the chief of Product Inclusion at ADP. ADP is this company that has been known for so many years, like a payroll company, but really we’re so much more than that. It’s about the entire lifecycle of an employee, HCM experience. We do a lot of services, products, and we’re really trying to lead with technology.
William Tincup: 01:13 I love it. I love it. It’s funny because you’ll sit on such great data all throughout the process from, as you said, from recruiting all the way to hire to retire, if you will. I absolutely love it.
01:30 Let’s start with some of the basics, designing inclusive HR tech. This is something I’ve not talked to anyone about. Why don’t we just lay down some foundational things? What should people be thinking about when they’re thinking about designing inclusive HR tech.
Giselle Mota: 01:45 This is super complicated of an answer. It is.
William Tincup: 01:50 I love it already.
Giselle Mota: 01:51 It’s not. It is so simple actually, it’s about really thinking about everyone. The everyone, who is that? It’s the user who’s going to be interacting with your product, or in the case of our clients, it’s going to be going through your application systems, your recruiting, onboarding, who’s the everyone that you’re trying to reach out to, because those are the people that we’re designing for. Everyone.
William Tincup: 02:18 You’re right, it’s simple, but yet complex. I did a podcast, oh, it was probably about a couple weeks ago, and it was with someone from the, it was a center for, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was helping blind students move from college if you will, and into the workforce. And it was fascinating, because the person I was talking to was blind. I’m legally blind, but that’s not quite the same, not actually the same at all. But I learned so much during that process because again, things that I take for granted, like we’re using Zoom and this person’s blind. Again, when we talk about, especially inclusion from an employment standpoint, diversity, inclusion, equity, equality, belonging, et cetera. When we talk about inclusion, not always talking, I mean, there’s so many different parts of inclusion that we’re not factoring in yet. It’s an onion and we’ve peeled a couple of the layers of the onion, which is great, but there’s a whole lot of more peeling to go with just inclusion.
Giselle Mota: 03:37 You’re so, right. And you mentioned such a great example about someone who’s using a product and they happen to be blind. Imagine that at different points, and I think it’s hard for us sometimes to imagine, that experience of someone who may be blind, because if we’re not blind ourselves or we don’t have loved ones or people around us who are, and we don’t experience. Well, what would it be like for that individual to have to go through a drive through and make an order, or do something online, whether it’s filling out a job application or anything. So we don’t think in those terms, but what we don’t often realize, is that sometimes we all have momentary moments of blindness. The sun can be shining in your eye in a certain direction-
William Tincup: 04:20 Right.
Giselle Mota: 04:20 Or you may have gotten pink eye or stabbed yourself in the eye on accident. So you have a temporary moment of that. Or perhaps you’re not fully blind, but maybe you do have color blindness or maybe you’re on the spectrum of having any other kind of a low vision or impaired vision. So all of us should think in terms of, “When I’m making this product, or when I’m offering this experience, how can I do it with everyone in mind that would probably even have sometimes moments of momentary disabilities if you would, or other abilities.” And then like you said, as well, yes, there’s a plethora of aspects that make us different. It could be that you are a caregiver. It could be that you are a different age in your workforce. Perhaps you identify outside of the binary of being a woman or a male or a man. And so you identify as non-binary, or there’s such a plethora of things that make us different people. And we have to take that into consideration when we’re creating experiences.
William Tincup: 05:26 So two parts, question one’s going to be more, how do we get that data? I don’t know what, I don’t know. I remember the first time someone, a friend of mine explained non-binary to me. Well, I had no idea because duh, I just didn’t know. But once I knew, once they explained it to me, I listened, I understood. It’s like, “Okay, now I can factor that in.” But how do we get to a place of knowing? How do you know what you don’t know, especially as it relates… Because when you started on a project when designing tech and HR tech in particular, there’s a whole host of things you’re solving for. There’s the tech that you’re, there’s a problem that you’re solving for. Okay, check. But then it’s okay, you have an audience. There’s going to be a bunch of users that are going to be using admins, et cetera. What advice do you have for folks to solicit and find out, “Okay, what are some of the things that we should be thinking about, potholes that we should avoid?”
Giselle Mota: 06:30 Absolutely. One of the best places is to check with the people themselves. And so go to the source. It was interesting when LinkedIn put out their pronoun features and their preferred name features, they did some research and they found out that a great number of people don’t identify as either of those binaries. And they might want to select a pronoun that’s different from the regular he, she or her, him. And there are many users across LinkedIn that are starting to use or have started for a long time now, as soon as that feature became available, use them. Sometimes people use a combination of he, they, and et cetera. There’s so many different ways to identify in that use case alone.
07:19 So I think it’s asking, and LinkedIn did just that. They went out, they asked, they surveyed, they found out from the users. What would you like to see as far as a pronoun? And we’ve done the same thing, we’ve listened to our clients, we’ve listened to the markets. We understand the future of working where it’s going with different generations coming in and how they want to identify and be identified. And you just look at your competition as well.
07:44 I’m sure that with many industries out there, I would encourage people who may be thinking, “Well, that’s not for me in my organization. I’m not going to allow, for example, someone to select their pronouns or anything along those lines.” I would say, look at your competition as well, because that talent pool has a choice of where they want to go work. And in many cases, they want to work for organizations that are going to value them for the unique individual that they are. And maybe even just respect the fact that they want to be called by a certain name or addressed by a certain pronoun, et cetera. So they will move on to an organization that will allow for that. And so I think there’s many different places, advisory groups, you can tap into research studies, do surveys and polls, ask your internal employee audience as well, through ERG groups. There’s many different ways where we can solicit feedback.
William Tincup: 08:35 So this might be just the middle-aged pear-shapes white guy problem that I have-
Giselle Mota: 08:41 William, did you say pear shaped?
William Tincup: 08:42 I did say pear shaped. I’m owning it. I’m just going to own it.
Giselle Mota: 08:47 Listen, we’re inclusive around here. We don’t discriminate. Own it.
William Tincup: 08:51 Or this might be man spiting, or we’re a combination of both, but truly this is something I’ve struggled with personally. Can we truly include everybody?
Giselle Mota: 09:04 I think we can strive for it. I don’t think that it’s probably humanly possible to get it right all the time.
William Tincup: 09:10 Right.
Giselle Mota: 09:11 In fact, we look at certain organizations like Microsoft over the years, has done a lot. They’re doing amazing things around diversity, equity inclusion, disability inclusion, et cetera. But some years ago they were hitting the headlines for certain aspects where they were getting it really wrong. And for example, I think I read a study or a research that was talking about how they put out, back when I think Windows was XP or something, when that existed back in the dinosaur ages, this is how long ago this was, you know how fast technology moves. But they wanted to translate how they select gender pronouns inside of their tool. And it was translating into English to Spanish. And they ended up calling women by a word in Spanish that the Spain used as [foreign language 00:10:08] in Spanish, which refers to female for some translations, but in most Spanish translations and in other places, it’s actually a derogatory cuss word towards women.
William Tincup: 10:19 Oh my God.
Giselle Mota: 10:21 Well, do we get it right all time? Absolutely not. But should we keep on trying and iterating? Yes.
William Tincup: 10:27 That’s what I’ve come to. At least that’s where I’ve rested so far, is it’s more of a relentless pursuit of inclusion. And you might not ever reach there. It’s a destination you might not ever reach. However, that’s not an excuse not to do it.
Giselle Mota: 10:43 Yeah.
William Tincup: 10:43 And so you just pursue and you try, you’re going to learn new things. And I think that’s one of the things that’s both complicated about the topic for folks, because they want it to be easy. And it’s not. There’s nothing about inclusion that’s easy. But it’s also, it’s a goal that you’re never going to actually reach, in my opinion. At least that’s where I’m at right now. I could change that next week.
11:08 When you design technology, so much, at least in the past, has been the features, benefits, attributes, how you’re technically, what problem you’re solving. And I’m not sure many people have actually really thought about the users and their needs. They only think about the buyer and their needs or maybe even the admins and their needs. And that’s more of the data and analytics or reporting and just typical stuff. But I’m not sure there’s been a whole lot of people that have really, really sat down and thought about, “Okay, before we get too far down the feature path of whatever we’re building, who are we solving for and what do they need out of this technology?” First of all, do I have any of that right, and if so, what’s right, what’s wrong? What would you modify?
Giselle Mota: 12:02 Yeah, I think that a lot of times we’ll create a product because, and when I say we, I speak of people who create products in general, but sometimes they’ll think about inclusion features out of compliance and legislation, or in order to not get sued. So we think about accessibility, and often we tag on accessibility as an afterthought. And, “Did we get to this?” We want to make sure that we’re compliant. It’s always driven by compliance. And perhaps it’s also other aspects, like are we including… Even in marketing, when the incidents has happened around the world, and especially here in the United States and then across the world, you saw an influx of commercials, advertisements, print ads, all kinds of things that were all around including people of color, especially people who are black inside of these marketing materials. That’s great, but we also have to [inaudible 00:13:01].
William Tincup: 13:03 Check. That’s nice.
Giselle Mota: 13:05 But how much further can we take this to be truly inclusive? Did you think about that individual’s experience in your products, for example, someone with disabilities, instead of tagging it on at the end with accessibility? Did you truly think and stop and think about how this person is included by bringing them to the table and asking them to test the products for you, or asking them for their input and feedback of what they would like to see, or listening to commonalities in certain areas of frustration that somebody comes across when it might not have anything to do with accessibility? Maybe it’s just, “I don’t feel like I’m represented and included in this experience.”
13:45 So there’s so much that we can do. And not only think about, I think we all need to move away from this, “I’m going to think about inclusion from a political, polarizing compliance-driven topic,” and really think about it from a human level of, “Who is not included in this experience, and how can we make sure that more people get included?”
William Tincup: 14:10 It’s wonderful that you said that, because it seems, you mentioned compliance earlier, and it seems like that’s a have to, rather than a want to. And a want to is a desire, the underpinning of a desire to then absolutely make that change. As you use the example of marketers using images of people of color, that’s again, better than not. “Okay, check, got it.” But it still feels forced. It feels forced. It feels like I have to, it looks like, “Oh, okay. If I don’t do that, I’m going to get in trouble. I’ll get on social. Somebody will put me on Blast,” whatever.
15:00 I think that one of the things that I think that the audience should take away from this, is as we design inclusive HR tech, it’s got to be a want to. You’ve got to want to do it. Because if it’s a have to, it’s going to be the last on the list. It’s going to be pushed down below other things that you’re working on, and it’s not going to be something that you want to do. And so you won’t do it, or you won’t do it as well.
Giselle Mota: 15:27 Two things on that you made me think. So one is, if somebody is putting out more individuals of color in marketing, it is a wonderful step in the right direction. I would challenge someone if you really want to take that further and truly be inclusive, make sure that it’s someone of color within the group, within groups of other people as well. It doesn’t have to be that every other picture is a person of color or a person… And when I say that, it’s a black individual. I’m a black woman by the way of what my skin is. I’m Afro Latina. And how about we consider, for example, people of other ethnic backgrounds?
16:05 It would be great to see people of different ethnicities inside of more marketing material. And thinking about people who might be of transgender or non-binary, is well included in some of these images that we use. And maybe a woman who is on her phone and she’s pregnant and she’s at work and she’s doing… Because there’s such a wide variety of who we are as people and how we work and how we show up. And so sometimes even in that, we create such a funnel.
16:40 Then, to the point that you made about probably wanting to do this, I would advocate for the people who don’t want to do it for a second. And I would say, if you’re out there listening and you don’t want to do it, we’re thinking of you too. And our product designs and development of how we do, we’re creating features… Because we have a stance at ADP in which we are trying to be more inclusive. As an organization we have a responsibility and ethics of how we operate, but then we’re also trying to empower others to be that way, should they choose. And so if you choose not to, I would say that’s all right. We have options where you can turn off certain features, for example. And then we were thinking and designing for those people as well. Just remember that when you don’t do that, you are getting yourself out of the competitive market and even keeping certain skills and capabilities of people who would be attracted to work for your company, if you thought and operated otherwise.
William Tincup: 17:35 Oh, I love that. And again, it’s true, because especially today, talent doesn’t have patience, and nor should they. So let’s start there. Talent shouldn’t have patience. We should be further along than we are. And again, if we were… I was just talking about this earlier this morning about onboarding. If you’ve been romanced in recruiting, all of a sudden you get to that onboarding, and it’s a horrible experience, I’ve seen such an uptick in people just saying “Yeah, no,” and leaving.
Giselle Mota: 18:12 Right. Ghosting.
William Tincup: 18:12 Yeah. And you know what? People talk about that as a bad thing, I don’t actually see that as a bad thing. I think that, :Hey, listen, that means that you need to make your pre-boarding onboarding experience, employee experience better. You should probably look at that and not blame… ” It’s so easy to blame the candidate or the employee rather than to take some ownership and say, “No, that’s actually our fault. That’s our bad.”
Giselle Mota: 18:39 Right.
William Tincup: 18:40 I wanted to get your take on visible versus invisible. How we identify, but also things that we can see, but also things that we can’t see. I know this is really in the disability and abilities place, but I think it crosses across all kind of inclusion, especially as we’ve talked more about mental health from COVID. Thankfully we’re talking more about mental health. It’s one of those things, we might be ashamed or whatever, we don’t talk about it. It’s kind of invisible. So how do we tease out the difference between invisible and as it relates to inclusion, so we make our products fit as many people as possible?
Giselle Mota: 19:32 Yeah, you’re right about, that’s such a good point. There are so many things that we can’t see. And we can make assumptions on people, based on what we physically see. But what about when someone is a veteran, and you can’t see that. And unless they’re maybe wearing something to indicate that or they upright tell you, but that veteran individual has a skill set in probably project management, in strategy and discipline, focus. There’s so many things that someone can bring to the table from that background. A caregiver will have experience working with an individual and being patient and having to manage different schedules and all kinds of things. So there’s so many different things that we cannot see about people, their religion, et cetera, that makes someone’s perspective and what they bring to the table that much richer.
20:28 And the same with disabilities, to your point. Myself, I have dyslexia. It’s something that affects the way that I read, the way that sometimes I speak, the way I write, the way I spell, the way I see things. I spoke about it in a TEDx talk some years ago, on how I think we can use things like artificial intelligence and emerging tech to help all kinds of people, including people with unseen and seen disabilities.
20:56 So absolutely, there’s such a rich perspective that people bring to the table, that we can’t point at many times with our fingers, because it’s not a physical thing. But we really can tap into it. And there’s so many people now speaking out and showing how those types of differences, the cognitive diversities, the way that we think, maybe because you do have a mental health situation… For example, people who are bipolar as well, have certain skillsets to them and something unique in perspective that they bring. And we can go on and on with different examples. But I think it’s really taking a step and looking at people in a different way, and not making assumptions and judgments based on what we see with our physical eyes.
William Tincup: 21:47 I love that you brought up both of those examples. Once we build technology, one of the things that we want… We want several things, but one of the things we want is adoption. We want people to use the technology, consume it, use it, usage, et cetera. And one of the things we don’t factor into that, is learning styles-
Giselle Mota: 22:08 Right.
William Tincup: 22:09 … how people, there’s, I think Sherm says there’s seven different learning styles, whatever it is. So there’s learning styles, how people like to learn, but there’s also learning differences, which you brought up dyslexia. There’s dysgraphia, there’s a whole host of different learning differences. You still learn, you just learn differently. And so again, how do we think about those folks from the jump? How do we do that when we’re designing technology so that we think about how people are going to the styles in a way that we’re going to package, so that we get to the ultimate goal of getting users to use the technology. But we also think about the differences, learning differences and factoring that in as well. What’s your take on learning styles and learning differences?
Giselle Mota: 22:57 Absolutely, learning styles and learning differences, I think people can create different modalities as far as how you can consume information. So instead of just having a training, that’s on written, like a PDF full of writing, for me that’s not going to work. I’m going to need something that can be in a audio format or visual, through video. The same though can be applied across many different aspects.
23:22 So even in the example that I gave around someone who may have some mental health differences, maybe it’s embedding time in your product or your process where you’re allowing someone to have high levels of engagement sometimes, and then sometimes being able to pull back from it. Or creating white spaces on the page to create some blank user experience and user interfaces where someone’s not cluttered with a bunch of information all at the same time. And maybe adding those options, those as options or features, where everyone doesn’t have to have the white space, but maybe someone else does need to click a button where you can have some more white space, or click a button and hear this in audio format. Or options, choices. And that’s how we can be more flexible within our product and design.
William Tincup: 24:17 I love it. Last question. I think it’s probably really easy to think about how we get it wrong. I think we get it wrong, because people aren’t using technology. We can just monitor usage and then see that people aren’t using the product. Like, “Okay, we’re getting something wrong.” But how do we know that we’re getting it right?
Giselle Mota: 24:36 Yeah. Higher adoption for sure. Less complaints and client escalations that you might be hearing. And just, people will share feedback here and there and say this, “I felt seen, I felt heard.” I’ve been doing some work over the years, even around disability inclusion, and the stories and just people that reach out to me to say that something made them cry, that they were so touched to finally be seen and heard and understood, that goes a long way. And so that in and of itself, you will hear feedback. You will see higher user adoption, you’ll see more extensive user adoption. So that would be going horizontal, you’ll reach more people by thinking more about people. And so I think the numbers will speak for itself.
William Tincup: 25:25 Chops mike, walks off stage. Giselle, thank you so much for carving out time and wisdom for us.
Giselle Mota: 25:32 Thank you, William, it’s awesome.
William Tincup: 25:34 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Until next time
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.