Transparency and respect can get you pretty far with authentic DE&I efforts.

Our guest Kevin Walters (Sr. Director of Diversity) and Andre Boulais (Vice President of Client Experience) of SilkRoad talks about authenticity, regionalized diversity, and inclusiveness in a more earnest and heartfelt way.

You can make all the effort to hire diverse candidates, but if your new hires don’t feel included they are statistically likely to leave within a year.  Make sure that there’s a properly inclusive work culture set up so that way these individuals can integrate into your work family more easily. If these individuals are pioneering diversity at your company,  having an honest conversation with them about it would go a long way.

Regionalized diversity is also something a lot of companies miss the mark on.  If your city is a certain mix of diversity, you should be attempting to hire with those ratios in mind. Authentic DE&I means not fighting against the river.  Don’t follow along with some cookie cutter diversity checklist that doesn’t apply to your location.  Help your company be a more honest representation of diversity. If you’re just doing diversity because the industry demands’re missing the whole point of all this.

Quotes on authentic DE&I from our guests:

Kevin Walters:

“A lot of candidates from talent pools in underrepresented communities would be okay being the first in a company. We always talk about having a seat at the table. Well that extends to all parties involved.”

Andre Boulais:

“That’s our word, authenticity. We talk about authenticity because you could have the best diversity marketing in the world, and start but a new hire gets there and is a bit confused. They say, “Hey, nobody looks like me. You marketed me aggressively saying there’s a culture of people that are very similar?” That’s going to get you a real world of hurt in the long run.”


Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the listen, all other sourcing school podcast episodes can be found here!

This HR Tech 2022 series is sponsored and made possible by our friends at Gem!

Kevin Walters and Andre Boulais
SilkRoad Technology Follow Follow

Announcer (00:04):
School is in session. This is Recruiting Daily Sourcing School podcast. We’re recording from HR Tech in Vegas, thanks to our friends and partners at Gem. Sharpen your pencils and get your sourcing pants on because we have the scoop on sourcing news, recruiting tech, and all the hot topics that you need to learn about. Here’s your professor, Ryan Leary with special guests Shally Steckerl and Mike Batman Cohen.

Shally Steckerl (00:32):
All right. All right. All right. Looks like school’s back in session. Professor Ryan stepped out for a minute and left me in charge. Apparently Batman is gone for the remainder as well. So here I am flying solo, but in the booth with me today I’ve got two very special guests from Intello, formerly Intello now SilkRoad, my buddy Kevin Walters and Andre Bule who are here to talk about some interesting topics like for example, diversity sourcing and the candidate experience. Kevin, tell us a little bit about how you got into recruiting and you know where you came from. I’ve known you for a while, but I want you to tell a story.

Kevin Walters (01:17):
Yeah, thanks for having me today. Kevin Walters, senior director of Diversity at SilkRoad. Been in this business for 24 years. It’s crazy. I think I remember-

Shally Steckerl (01:28):
That’s one year less than me.

Kevin Walters (01:30):
I think that’s what I was going to say. I remember being that green eyed kid coming up to you and going, “Shally, can you sign your book?” And you running those local chapter tech meetings.

Shally Steckerl (01:42):
Recruiter anonymous meetings.

Kevin Walters (01:43):
Recruiter anonymous. Yeah. Back in the days, obviously you had a little more here then, but both of us did at least. But from that, just evolving, working in corporate, working in the agency world back when there were fax machines. I hate to admit that, but I was around then.

Shally Steckerl (02:01):
In Atlanta. So yeah, we met in Atlanta many, many moons ago. And then you moved to Vegas.

Kevin Walters (02:07):
Moved to Vegas about six-

Shally Steckerl (02:07):
So your local boy made good here in Vegas.

Kevin Walters (02:10):
I’m hosting you guys.

Shally Steckerl (02:11):
And that’s right. Yeah. And now you are, I guess heading up the diversity efforts for this new endeavor that’s formerly Intello now SilkRoad.

Kevin Walters (02:20):
Absolutely. It’s a compilation of all of my years of experience and history and background in sourcing, recruiting, being able to take some of the vision that I’ve had for working with a product, a tech solution, AI, ML solution, and be able to be an advisor. Coming to Intello and SilkRoad and saying, “Hey, what can we do better?” Because I’ve worked on a customer side, being a former Amazon leader and training DEI leader, being able to understand what’s important to the source and the recruiting committee.

And a lot of times we found that is a gap we see. I’m not going to mention any of the other vendors out here now, but we see these tools that are plugged in. But unfortunately a team goes, “Hey, who bought this?” Because it’s not what we needed. It’s not connecting. It doesn’t help us. The benefits are not there. One of the things in the beauty I love about my role is being able to work with product engineering, work with the enablement team, work with customer success, work with sales, and being able to put that imprint on EI vision and embed all of our best practices and technology into those tools.

Shally Steckerl (03:26):
Wow. Okay. That sounds pretty comprehensive. Yeah. SilkRoad has a long history, so what’s your job in all of these, Andre?

Andre Boulais (03:34):
No, I love it Shally. Thanks for having me today too. I don’t have quite the experience both of you do. I have 18 years in the industry, but-

Shally Steckerl (03:40):
Just a baby.

Andre Boulais (03:41):
Hey, I’m young enough that I had a [inaudible 00:03:44] poster on over my bed when I was a young 15 year old. I’ve spent 18 years in the space, first decade leading global sourcing teams for companies like Salesforce. Spent the last eight years in the space, left Salesforce to build out job vice managed services division. Built an entire services around best practices and strategy, launching different strategy on six different continents for DEI, for sourcing, for employer branding, for college recruiting. Built that up till [inaudible 00:04:07], got acquired and acquired three companies. Joined Intello about two years ago as a VP of customer success and have been part of the SilkRoad team for about a month.

So what Kevin said is a hundred percent accurate. You’ve got to have the technology with the best practices and strategy. So many companies are trying to catch up right now that they want to use the tool, they want to do things but they’re spread thin. But having the individuals come into be those experts with them, we’ve got the credibility from doing that across six different continents with hundreds of companies. It’s great to accelerate, augment the ROI that you’re going to get from the tools with those best practitioners, leveraging that in their teams with the tools as well too.

Shally Steckerl (04:38):
So it’s not just a solution, it’s actually consulting to?

Andre Boulais (04:40):
It is. It’s coming in behind that. That’s the new direction that we’ve had. And we had a lot of success doing it at Intello the last two years. In fact, we launched manage services a few years ago when I started at Intello. First thing we launched was a diversity workshop, letting you come in and get a baseline of where your company is. Because everybody would say, “We’ve got to do better diversity.” We’d say, “Great, what does that mean to you?” And a lot of folks were at different levels in the maturity funnel. So being able to assess where they are in the maturity funnel, present a solution that involves your tools along with best practices, and then be able to measure with ROI, not only at the end of your initial workshop implementation. “Hey, here’s your 30, 60, 90, let’s come back and revisit this.” “Hey, let’s have maintenance services. We could do diversity best practices around your tools all year round.” Now you’re hitting your goals two months before the year ends and that’s really powerful. We can do that as a vendor.

Shally Steckerl (05:23):
Something that you said earlier, because when you mentioned this, it’s had me reeling in my mind since you said it and I’m not really sure I understood exactly why. But you said that you’re recently, were with an analysis or analysis report that said that diversity recruiting or diversity sourcing perhaps is what you said has taken almost a half step backwards in the list of priorities or urgencies of companies. I’m curious if you could speculate why and also what is replacing that half step? So in other words, what is it giving way to?

Andre Boulais (06:04):
I think Shally, I think it was more on the lines of from the sourcing side. More’s being put into the inclusion side because as you’re seeing, you could do all the effort in the world to source, market, and higher a bevy of great candidates. Whether they’re underrepresented talent pools or the best software engineers. If you’re losing them in a year, it’s a waste of your money. So I think finding ways to weave inclusion, which has been kind of the missing piece of the diversity, equity, inclusion piece for so long. How do you weave that into the onboarding and throughout the first year?

So you’re hiring somebody that’s amazing, but you’re keeping them, you’re advancing, you’re making sure they’re in a place where they feel inclusive and they’re able to then mentor and bring other individuals as well too, as you expand your network to have a true culture of different individuals all bringing a different piece of their culture to add to your puzzle.

Kevin Walters (06:44):
And I think a lot of that we’ve seen in market in the past year or two, great resignation, just flat out leaving their organization, sitting on the beach. And now the focus has been, hey, we got to retain our talent. We got to stop the bleeding, we got to keep what we have. We’re already undercut below our goals in building pipelines and identifying candidates. Before we do that, let’s at least try to stop and keep what we have. So that’s why inclusion has become so important. And it’s a two sided door, if you think about it. If you’re not inclusive, you can’t attract, because as-

Shally Steckerl (07:25):
You can try.

Kevin Walters (07:26):
You can try. But when that door is open and the authenticity and visibility-

Andre Boulais (07:31):
Kevin, that’s our word, authenticity. Every webinar you and I are on, we talk about authenticity because you have the best marketing in the world. Somebody gets there and says, “Hey, nobody looks like me. And you marketed me aggressively saying here’s a culture of people that are very similar [inaudible 00:07:43] my peers.” That’s going to get you a real world of hurt in the long run.

Shally Steckerl (07:47):
But we’re trying to change, we’re trying to bring people in-

Kevin Walters (07:50):
How do you do it?

Shally Steckerl (07:51):
… from a diverse background. Different opinions, different cultures, different ethnicities, different points of view. We got to bring them in somehow. And if you’re going to be one of the first ones, you’re not going to see people like you here.

Andre Boulais (08:03):

Kevin Walters (08:03):
Just say this how you’re exactly right. You got to say that. You got to out then that is, Yeah. It’s authenticity.

Shally Steckerl (08:07):
I mean-

Kevin Walters (08:08):
No stock photos.

Shally Steckerl (08:09):
Right. [inaudible 00:08:10] Exactly. Exactly.

Andre Boulais (08:10):
No stock photos, no pretending. No senior diverse and inclusive company. And then- [inaudible 00:08:16]

Shally Steckerl (08:15):
Yeah, it’s we’re trying to build that. That’s what we’re trying to build. Can you help us? Come in and… Okay. [inaudible 00:08:23] I get that. So that half step backwards in sourcing really has been replaced with a half step forward in-

Kevin Walters (08:29):
More strategic.

Shally Steckerl (08:30):
Making efforts to actually be more accepting in genuinely including people as opposed to just shoving them in the funnel and hoping that we make the best hires.

Andre Boulais (08:42):
And we had a conversation with a TA leader that had spent a large amount of money for a 2000 person company to go after hiring folks from underrepresented talent pools. They did all in marketing, all stock, they weren’t authentic about it. And they ended up losing a huge percentage of folks within their first year of coming on board. And it was a huge mistake by their leadership team. They had to step back and realize we should just tell the truth from the beginning. Saying, “Well you just said Shally, we do not have a very diverse workforce, but we’re building towards that because we’re committed to it. We’d love for you to come in and be an amazingly talented individual that also happens to be a member of underrepresented talent pool and be a pioneer to help us change and add to the culture as well too.” That is a much better message. And that would’ve saved them a ton of money in the long run and made a better culture.

Kevin Walters (09:20):
And there’s a lot of candidates from that talent pool in the underrepresented community that’d be okay with being the first. Actually did a presentation for a people kind of analytics company a couple of months ago and they were just building their ERG, 15 folks. And they asked me to come in and talk about inclusion and talk about how to treat your underrepresented employees. And it was a great presentation because here it is, this small group. They wanted their management leadership and their employee workforce to really understand how to work with them, how to make them feel more comfortable from a languaging perspective, from A meeting from a strategic perspective, connecting them in meetings, making them truly part of the strategy and then having a voice. We always talk about having a seat at the table. Well that extends to all parties involved.

Andre Boulais (10:11):
And Kevin, I love that because good friend of mine started the LGBT program ERG at, or sorry at Anthem about 20 years ago. Left Anthem went on with her career as a head of TA, several companies. She came back a year ago and just to see where that group had grown to and how many folks that had stayed with the company because of that group, because of the efforts they did, but also how much more power the group had internally politically at the company versus before it was just starting out. And it shows the investment the company made, that they’re able to keep and retain amazing people and grow that group and grow that company. And that retention is so critical right now. And everyone’s got choices and there’s a lot of marketing coming their way.

Kevin Walters (10:44):
Yeah. And some of these ERGs are really powerful-

Shally Steckerl (10:47):
Wait, hold up a minute here. Let me explain to some of the folks that are listening, what an ERG is.

Kevin Walters (10:51):
Oh, what an ERG is.

Andre Boulais (10:51):
Thank you so much for the reset. Thank you.

Shally Steckerl (10:53):
Yeah. [inaudible 00:10:55]

Andre Boulais (10:53):
This school, right? This school, we got to teach a little bit.

Shally Steckerl (10:56):
It’s an employee resource group and it’s also sometimes called other names-

Andre Boulais (11:00):
ARG or-

Kevin Walters (11:02):
Affinity group.

Shally Steckerl (11:02):
Affinity group. Essentially it’s a group of team members, employees that support each other through the organization in different ways. Mentorship and help open doors. And they’re aligned in some fashion, whether it’s LGBTQIA plus or whether it’s-

Kevin Walters (11:19):

Shally Steckerl (11:19):
… ethnicity or et cetera. And usually involves a couple of leaders that have taken on the role of mentoring and helping open doors for those that might be starting out, et cetera. So not every company has that. There’s some arguments for companies to not have one as well. It just depends on the company culture. For example, if you are trying to open doors, then you know might need that. But if you are trying to be inclusive and need to build that from scratch, perhaps you don’t want to start with an ERF. In other words, if you are already a company that has a sizable amount of employees and you know that there’s some people that are being, let’s just say marginalized to some degree, then an ERGs a good idea to help bring them in if it’s done correctly. But if you’re a company that’s starting out and you’re in early growth, you should establish the culture from the beginning. And not depend on an ERG.

Andre Boulais (12:16):
Very true.

Kevin Walters (12:17):
Well and what I love-

Shally Steckerl (12:18):
Or create an ERG and then later now you have that problem.

Kevin Walters (12:21):
And here’s a tip for you. If you don’t have one, then you can also partner with external issue that have ERGs and use them as a leverage, not use, but partner with them to actually help build your culture.

Andre Boulais (12:31):
And I love it, Shally said there again, essentially that you’re building it in the DNA from the beginning. Because the more we talk about this, the more Kevin and I in our webinars, we’re talking to conferences, DEI is not a talent acquisition initiative. It’s an every employee initiative. Just set that from the ground for then that becomes a powerful bedrock that you build your organization on.

Shally Steckerl (12:48):
You have no idea how many times as a consultant it comes to me as sourcing is the solution to our diversity problems.

Andre Boulais (12:55):
Right. And yeah, that is a strong- [inaudible 00:12:59]

Shally Steckerl (12:59):
You can’t fix it. Sometimes you can’t fix it if it ain’t broken in this case you can’t fix it because somebody else broke it. I mean it’s like somewhere else. It’s not… Yeah. I had a question for you though. In your experience now, significant experience working with companies advising, consulting, what percentage of organizations do you find, without saying any names, have not identified what diversity means for them? And let me explain what I mean by that.

Andre Boulais (13:31):
It’s a great question.

Kevin Walters (13:31):
Great question.

Shally Steckerl (13:31):
And let me explain what I mean by that, because the first step in understanding what’s missing with the diversity and inclusion is to understand what’s missing with diversity and inclusion, which means different things to different companies. For example, if you’re an Atlanta based company, there’s a good chance that organically you probably already have pretty good racial diversity in your organization because Atlanta’s fiber is by nature one of the highest diversity populations. So it’s possible that that’s not the case. But it could also be that you very, very much have ethnic diversity to begin with because of where you are, but you are lacking in some other area.

If a company like that doesn’t stop to ask what’s missing, they might create a diversity program to try to attract and include more African Americans in an environment where that’s not needed because that’s not an underrepresented community in that case or here’s another example, the company is based in a state that’s predominantly largely white and there’s not a whole lot of diversity in that state. What does diversity mean for that state? So if you’re in a city where the population is 90% white and 10% other, your diversity efforts should try to mimic that population rather than trying to be 50% other. And that means you’d be employing every diverse person in the entire state.

Andre Boulais (15:05):
And it’s funny because we see that too. There are people that reversed that with Intello and search for maybe white males, but for nurses where the nursing profession tends to be heavily skewed towards gender-wise. When they want to improve diversity across certain ways, they look for male. And it could be all race ethnicity, but you see that on both sides. And I think that’s really good because I think when I joined the summer of 2020 during Black Lives Matters, pandemic, people would say, “Oh my God, I’m in charge of diversity, equity, inclusion. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” And I’d say, “Okay, what does that mean to you?” And they’d say, “I’m still trying to figure it out.” And I think-

Shally Steckerl (15:33):
That was my question is how many companies never stop to think or ask the question of, well what is it that is underrepresented here?

Andre Boulais (15:40):
I think that’s where it helps where Kevin and I and the folks on our teams who come in and have clarifying questions, see where they are on the journey and say, “Great, you’re at a level one. The good news is 85% of you guys are in the very beginning.” But, “Hey, if you’re a level 2, level 3, we can show you where you’re lacking and show you how to accelerate that as well too.” Because we just did a webinar recently and one of the customers I spent six years launching DEI best practices on six continents was Schneider Electric. And you look at their 20 year plan, they had a 20 year diversity plan. The first five years were just about gender, bringing female candidates to the table across the org. And we did that for almost five and a half years now is everything else that had to be done, inclusion, all of that. But they had a 20 year journey with five years solely devoted to one thing and every continent, every DA group-

Shally Steckerl (16:21):
Because they had identified that was their one big gap.

Andre Boulais (16:23):
Yeah. And that was on different continents where they were launching that-

Shally Steckerl (16:24):
See, they stopped to think about it-

Andre Boulais (16:24):
They knew, they thought base level here. And now we go to inclusion. We did all this to bring in folks so that these different genders, now we’ve got include everybody. Now we’ve got to build a culture. And I’ll tell you, those programs are the most fun years of my life to design that from an email campaign, a web campaign, the return to work program for working mothers. You talk about the power, but now having all this knowledge that Kevin and I and our teams have going into the software with a consultant background is totally different. And being able to advise, know, and accelerate their journey, it’s beautiful.

Kevin Walters (16:51):
It’s beautiful.

Andre Boulais (16:51):
It is.

Kevin Walters (16:52):
It automated… But I think going back to one of Shally’s questions as far as what do you have and being able to kind of look, I’ll say this within companies, even in Atlanta, when you look at some of the big companies just there, and I’ve worked for them and I know you have as well won’t mention their names-

Shally Steckerl (17:07):
Yeah, I know there’s some that have a problem with the diversity anyway, which is kind of disturbing because they’re actually fighting against the organic nature of Atlanta and it’s like, okay, you’re definitely working hard at this one.

Kevin Walters (17:22):
You’re working very hard at this one and you don’t have to. But one of the things they need to look at, even within the company, consider yourself, if you have done the work and you’ve done an audit, so to speak, an assessment, and you understand your maturity across the board where you are in regards to diversity inclusion. I guarantee there’s still opportunities and we know… I don’t have the numbers right here in front of me percentage wise, but we know it usually stops somewhere between a lot of the companies that are very diverse on the bottom or the middle. And then you look above the middle going to executive leadership or you find a lack of diversity. In fact, when you look at the Fortune 500, how many CEOs exist? What is that number right now?

Andre Boulais (18:04):
It’s a very low percentage.

Kevin Walters (18:05):
Very low percentage, single digits. There’s still a lot of opportunities. So maybe for you, diversity is multi-layered. It’s not just one layer. It’s not- [inaudible 00:18:15]

Shally Steckerl (18:14):
It probably is.

Kevin Walters (18:14):
… It’s not just at the lower management. We find that within companies, there’s still opportunities even within the opportunities that exist there.

Andre Boulais (18:23):
And I think-

Shally Steckerl (18:25):
But diversity may have a lot of faces. However, inclusion only has one.

Andre Boulais (18:28):
That’s right.

Shally Steckerl (18:29):
And that’s a very big distinction when it comes to identifying diverse talent. From a sourcing point of view, you’ve got to identify as many diverse communities or as you said, marginalized or underrepresented communities as you possibly can. And frequently some get left behind. For example, people that are blind or people with disabilities. From a recruiting point of view also. But from an inclusion point of view, there’s only one way to do inclusion. And that’s to answer the question is everybody here being listened to? Doesn’t mean that we are doing what everybody wants. Because if you do what everybody wants, you have-

Andre Boulais (19:06):

Shally Steckerl (19:06):
Chaos, yeah. Thank you. [inaudible 00:19:08] But does everyone here who should have a voice, which is everyone, do they have a voice? And are we listening to all of them and making sense of what they’re saying? Because that’s what inclusion really is about. Otherwise, you end up excluding certain populations, whatever that population may be, whether it’s white males that you’re excluding. So it’s two completely different initiatives. So from a candidate experience point of view, is it two different languages? Like the language of diversity and the language of inclusion? Are you communicating it differently? Are there two separate messages? How do we do that?

Andre Boulais (19:46):
I think that’s a great question. I think everyone’s still trying to figure it out. I think the idea that if you join organization, your voice is heard, is powerful. And I think people are capturing that. But I don’t think everybody is. I think it’s a much smaller percentage saying you’ll have a voice no matter who you are to join our company. Where I agree too.

Shally Steckerl (20:00):
Okay, so that’s inclusion and that’s what you’re working on now I get that.

Andre Boulais (20:03):

Shally Steckerl (20:03):
So that when you look at diversity talent, you can then say, we are definitely an inclusive culture. Even though we might not have a very diverse population right now. We’ve done the work to become inclusive so that when diversity candidates join- [inaudible 00:20:19].

Andre Boulais (20:17):
[inaudible 00:20:19] not be diverse [inaudible 00:20:21].

Kevin Walters (20:21):
And not have a very diverse company.

Andre Boulais (20:23):
Come build it with us. We’d love for you to come be a builder. We’re building a company of builders.

Kevin Walters (20:26):
I can tell you, if you are an inclusive company and you’re checking all the boxes, right? Like we talked about disability, veterans, African American, people of color, black, all the-

Shally Steckerl (20:39):
Race, yeah.

Andre Boulais (20:41):

Shally Steckerl (20:42):
Considering all the- [inaudible 00:20:43]

Kevin Walters (20:43):
So everything that goes with it.

Shally Steckerl (20:45):
Wait, what about returning citizens?

Andre Boulais (20:47):
Yeah, so we’ve built program, we’ve built programs for that. That’s a great one. That is a… so Michael Wright is here, he’s a WPP. I worked with him very closely at Group M for six years. One of the smartest people globally on return Boomerang programs, alumni, ex patriots. We built programs, bring people back from all different countries. Like he is, we need to find him and put on here as well too. He is an amazing speaker.

Shally Steckerl (21:08):
Is he here?

Andre Boulais (21:08):
He is.

Shally Steckerl (21:09):
Bring him over.

Andre Boulais (21:09):
I will.

Shally Steckerl (21:10):
What’s his name?

Andre Boulais (21:10):
Michael Wriht.

Shally Steckerl (21:11):

Andre Boulais (21:12):
He’s spoken all over the world and he’s lived all over the world running group [inaudible 00:21:16] and now he’s a WPP but-

Shally Steckerl (21:17):
W R I H T?

Andre Boulais (21:18):
Yep. Correct.

Shally Steckerl (21:18):
All right. [inaudible 00:21:21]

Kevin Walters (21:20):
Yeah. Kind of going back to [inaudible 00:21:23], if you are checking all those boxes and such, most likely it’ll be a lot easier to bring in others. And that’s the thing that is probably… That’s why you see-

Shally Steckerl (21:34):
Come on in, the water’s warm.

Andre Boulais (21:35):

Kevin Walters (21:36):
And that’s why you see companies that switched that DNI to IMP.

Shally Steckerl (21:39):
That makes a lot more sense.

Andre Boulais (21:40):
It’s really switched.

Kevin Walters (21:41):
That they really flipped it and said, “Hey, let’s focus.” And that’s where we’re talking about-

Shally Steckerl (21:45):
It’s maybe not a step back. It’s putting that backwards or putting that further back in the priority because you got to get the other one done first. You’re going to get the… I get it. So it’s a change in order of operations, not necessarily a change in, we’re not going to do the other thing. We’re just, we got to get this house in order before we can get that.

Andre Boulais (22:04):
And I’ll tell you Shally, so many times we’ll do advanced analytics for our customers on all of the hires they made from Intello talent pools across the key categories. And it’s great. But then we asked to measure it against how many folks from those different groups have they lost? So are you doing all this amazing work to use a tool to bring in all these great folks from under represented talent pools. But are you losing more? Are you not keeping them? That’s where inclusion is so critical. Because then it’s just a siv, it’s a constant fight. You’re pushing the rock up the hill.

Kevin Walters (22:31):
Which is why we see so much volatility in talent and acquisition as well.

Andre Boulais (22:34):
Exactly. It’s exhausting to say, “I’m going to do this.” And then what happens?

Kevin Walters (22:39):
Yeah, same thing.

Shally Steckerl (22:41):
I can’t share the name of the company, but I can tell you that there’s a very hard lesson that was learned around 2003 with trying to force diversity into an organization. Keep in mind was very, very early on. I was one of the first pioneers, if you will, of diversity sourcing. So 2003, long time ago, and the company that I was with, you can figure it out if you figured out where I was in 2003-

Andre Boulais (23:06):
You’re a sourcer.

Shally Steckerl (23:08):
Had a… Yeah, that’s right. Had an initiative to increase the gender representation, particularly female representation within the engineering community. But the powers that they had mistakenly identified that, and I’m not really sure how this happened. They had mistakenly identified that they should have 50% of their population of engineers be male and 50% be female. I think because they thought that the general population is half and half, which is not the case either. [inaudible 00:23:38] It’s 51 49. But anyway, engineers don’t represent that. Engineers are 15% female.

Kevin Walters (23:44):
That would’ve been an easy one to figure out. [inaudible 00:23:48]

Shally Steckerl (23:48):
Somehow they wanted to have that 50/50, which really was very difficult to achieve because you would’ve had an extremely overrepresented population in that case. And that was not the only mistake that made, the other mistake that they made was assuming that these candidates that were female engineers wanted to be identified as female engineers. And I learned very quickly that they did not. So I was going to ask you this message for the audience is with regard to the candidate experience, if you’re trying to, as you said with Schneider Electric, increase the population of diversity, obviously you don’t want to reach out to a candidate and say, “We’re recruiting you because you’re a woman.” So how do you say that? How do you say, we’re recruiting you because you’re female without saying we’re recruiting you because you’re female.

Kevin Walters (24:36):
Well, you can identify the population that you’re looking for, but you don’t have to message and tokenize them to the point where you’re saying, “Hey, I’m recruiting you because you’re black or African or you’re female.” But you do want female women engineers based on their skills-

Shally Steckerl (24:52):
But how do you change your message? If your message now is not attracting females, then you must do something about your message. What do you do?

Andre Boulais (24:59):
I think you can speak to that you will have an inclusive culture of large group of talent individuals from all types of ethnicities and gender breakdowns. And that you think this is an amazing professional that I think could also add a lot from a culture standpoint to our organization. So that way it’s not directly towards, hey, you are a black male or you are a female.

Kevin Walters (25:15):
Or you show them what you have. You show if you have female women engineers, you connect them to that culture.

Andre Boulais (25:21):

Kevin Walters (25:21):
Show them what you’re doing in regards to them. So it’s almost like you’re speaking to them without coming out and saying, Hey-

Shally Steckerl (25:27):
You show them what’s there without saying here’s what’s here.

Kevin Walters (25:29):

Andre Boulais (25:29):
And we say all the time, I mean all time too. When we’re doing like on-demand talent campaigns, you have a video in there. If you’re going after folks, you might have an executive that is in an HBCU, historical black college or university. So you might have them talking about their experience running the company as well. And as they market to a large group of people as well. So we do that all the time at Exact Target in Salesforce, where we would have the alumni of that college wear a t-shirt. So they went to Indiana University or Notre Dame or Howard, they’d wear the t-shirt. Do a little promo on why they should come from college to join. And we found that authenticity from an executive, an old school, college T-shirt, whether it was an HBCU or a Big 10 school, was really powerful to say, “Come bring your culture to our culture.” That makes a huge difference.

Shally Steckerl (26:09):
So before I let you go here, because we’re running out of time, I wanted to ask, is there any truth to, in your experience in working with all these companies, is there any truth to the language that you use matter? So if you’re crafting… Because for me, at least from a sourcing point of view, one of the most important things in the messaging is that the message that I’m using when I’m trying to attract candidates, these are passive candidates that the messaging resonates with them. So I have always tried to make it as attractive but neutral as possible. For example, not using too many masculine terms or not using-

Andre Boulais (26:56):
Neutral language.

Shally Steckerl (26:58):
Exactly. So is there a truth to that you can craft a message that actually resonates more or less with a particular group?

Andre Boulais (27:06):
Absolutely. Hundred percent, yes.

Kevin Walters (27:07):
Okay. There’s certain words that automatically-

Shally Steckerl (27:13):

Kevin Walters (27:14):
Alienate gender-

Shally Steckerl (27:15):
Gender or okay.

Kevin Walters (27:16):
And women tend to not even apply at a lot of these job descriptions or jobs-

Shally Steckerl (27:20):
Because of that language.

Kevin Walters (27:21):
Because of that language. Right. On a whole, unless they feel… It’s actually a backwards way of saying that men are more arrogant than women because we will apply to anything whether we’re fit or not. But women, unless they’re a hundred percent match that job.

Shally Steckerl (27:36):
Sure about the fit- [inaudible 00:27:36]

Kevin Walters (27:36):
About the fit. So if I say I’m looking for a superstar or someone who’s a master or ninja, those are more words that make a guy kind of-

Andre Boulais (27:44):

Kevin Walters (27:45):
Feel masculinity. She’s like, “Well, they’re not talking to me.” It’s kind of hidden messaging.

Andre Boulais (27:50):
And we have the data too that we have that inclusive language feature in Intello where before you hit send you, it’ll tell you, pull this back. This is too masculine. And we know from the millions of [inaudible 00:27:59] going out-

Shally Steckerl (28:00):
Is it too white?

Andre Boulais (28:02):
This is way too white for it.

Shally Steckerl (28:05):
So it does… You can identify-

Kevin Walters (28:07):
It’s not biased.

Shally Steckerl (28:09):
… bias language on more than just gender, also in other areas.

Andre Boulais (28:13):
Yeah. And we know from the open rate and response rate is better when they follow that versus when they do their own thing and don’t listen to what the AI says from millions of emails that have gone out over the last decade. So it’s nice to have the data points behind it to make sure you really should be reinforced with your messaging. We even have some TA leaders have admitted they’ll do internal emails and drop it into the platform before they hit send internally, just to make sure they’re getting their language and Ps and Qs. Hey, we’re equal opportunity to help everybody.

Shally Steckerl (28:38):
Well that’s very, very useful. [inaudible 00:28:40] Thanks for your free tip. It’s what all we’re about here at Sourcing School. Well, I appreciate you guys coming into the booth today.

Andre Boulais (28:47):
Yeah, thanks for much Shally. We’re excited.

Shally Steckerl (28:48):
Thanks for coming. Yeah, thanks a lot.

Kevin Walters (28:50):
Yeah, glad to be doing this. All right. Take care.

Shally Steckerl (28:51):
Take care.

Andre Boulais (28:51):
Take care.

Speaker 5 (28:54):
Oh, man. That means it’s over.

Speaker 6 (28:57):
You’ve been listening to the Sourcing School podcast Live at HR Tech in Vegas. It’s sponsored by our friends at Gen. We’re all the HR recruiting and sourcing news. Check out


Sourcing School Podcast

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.

Michael Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Sourcing-on-Demand and Recruitment Training Organization. Wayne Technologies On-Demand Sourcing is a revolutionary approach that provides the most actionable data available, is based on deliverables – not time, and is based on access to more recruitment tooling than any organization worldwide.

Shally Steckerl

One of the pioneers of the sourcing discipline, Shally is the Founder and former President of The Sourcing Institute, where he has helped numerous F500 and mid-market organizations train and develop their talent sourcing capabilities for nearly 20 years. When it comes to innovative approaches to candidate search, Shally literally wrote the book. He is the author of the industry-standard textbook “The Talent Sourcing and Recruitment Handbook” as well as “The Sourcing Method: Tactics to Find Unfindable Talent.”


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