Art Zeile
President and CEO, Director Dice Follow

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Art from Dice about advancing equality in tech.

Some Conversation Highlights:

So, in my opinion, the very first part of the playbook when it comes to equality in tech is to understand how diverse candidates look at the tech experience today. And that is best seen by looking at our equality in tech report, which shows that the answers to certain questions are pretty profound. We asked the question, how frequently do you think gender and or racial inequality occurs in the tech industry?

And 57% of Black respondents believe that they have experienced that, whereas the number for White respondents is 30%. So understanding the nature of where we stand today, I think is super important. Then I think the second is to essentially make sure you are training your recruiters on their biases. We at DHI Group had bias training last year, specifically, we had two courses that were well, we used via a partner named partner or power to fly that focused on unbiased or unconscious bias and then also being an ally at work, it’s called allyship training.

Tune in for the full conversation.

 

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Listening time: 27 minutes

 

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Music:
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:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today, we have Art on, from Dice and our topic today is a wonderful topic, is advancing equality in tech. It’s probably something top of mind for every recruiter out there, especially people that are doing tech recruiting in particular, and folks that care about pay gaps and paying equities. So can’t wait to learn from Art. So Art, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and for those that have been living under a rock for the last 20 years Dice?

Art Zeile:
Absolutely. I really appreciate it, William. Well, my name again is Art Zeile. I’m the CEO of DHI Group. We have two brands, both Dice and ClearanceJobs, and we really help recruiters whether they’re inside of staffing, recruiting agencies or inside of enterprises to find the right technologists. And so that’s our core mission. It is a mission that is relevant to both Dice and ClearanceJobs, and we’re very excited about this particular topic. I think it’s a topic that pervades the conversation with all of our clients, especially right now.

William Tincup:
So just for the audience to say, because the brand Dice is, you’ve all done such a wonderful job. DHI has done such a wonderful job, branding them through the years. ClearanceJobs, what’s the specific focus of ClearanceJobs?

Art Zeile:
ClearanceJobs helps military contractors, for the most part folks like Lockheed and Raytheon and Booz Allen Hamilton, Leidos to find technologists that have government clearances.

William Tincup:
Got it.

Art Zeile:
So think of those as secret and top secret. There’s about a dozen different government clearances across both the Department of Defense and Department of Energy. So we help a different group of clients find technologists, software developers, engineers that are necessary for these large scale military programs.

William Tincup:
Oh, that’s fantastic. And I know the site, but I wanted to make sure the audience understood the-

Art Zeile:
I appreciate that.

William Tincup:
No worries. So advancing equality in tech, where do we start with this?

Art Zeile:
Well, it’s interesting, when I have this conversation with our clients, I make sure that they understand where the industry itself stands today with regard to diversity. And you can’t use typical Bureau of Labor statistics or US Census Bureau statistics to talk about the technology industry itself. We like to use a report that came out from the US Equal Economic Opportunity Commission and it’s called Diversity in Tech. And it basically says that the benchmark today is that about 68% of all tech workers in the United States are White, 7% are Black, 14% are Asian and 8% are Hispanic. So that’s the state of the industry today. And there’s a big discussion on how we could do better and we can go into a lot of different veins of that particular discussion. But I think that there are ways that recruiters can eliminate the bias from their searches and really focus in deeply on skills and experience. And that should have an effect of lifting those diversity statistics over the course of time for our industry.

William Tincup:
So the excuse that you, and I hear most often is there’s not enough diverse candidates?

Art Zeile:
Yes. I would say that is true, although that is changing pretty rapidly. I’d say that we’re seeing statistics associated with comp, sci and other majors in the United States across universities and colleges increasing in their diversity. And so I would say you might describe the number of candidates, the candidate pool as being shallow in the past, but it’s changing today. I also think that there’s a nice theme associated with cross training and people moving from other occupations into technology successfully. And there’s been recent articles even in the Wall Street Journal just a week ago that talk about that phenomena of cross training, that’s very relevant to improving the pool of diverse candidates. So it’s an excuse from the past, not for the present and the future.

William Tincup:
Yeah. I love the transferable skills. And then again, you’ve tied that into investing in skilling people up and bringing people, pulling people forward.

Art Zeile:
Yes, that’s exactly right. I think that those two trends are incredibly important. I do think that there is this, a problem mechanically with supply and demand across the entire candidate pool. So it doesn’t even talk to the fact that there’s a lack of diverse candidates. There’s just a lack of candidates in general. The statistics show that in the year 2019, before the pandemic, there were 1 million unfilled tech positions. And the statistics that we saw at the beginning of this year indicate that we’re seeing the largest number of tech job openings in history with the backdrop of an unemployment rate for the sector of 1.3% in March. So there’s just not enough candidates in general and we’re not plugging that hole with enough comp sci majors and other technical degrees. And clearly the H1B program is not doing its job to essentially bring diverse candidates and other candidates from other countries.

William Tincup:
It’s almost like we’re applying Moore’s Law to tech candidates. It’s repeating on a factor and we can’t catch up.

Art Zeile:
That’s exactly right. That’s a brilliant way of describing it. The demand is increasing faster than the supply and there is no solution that we see in sight. So people are trying to find diverse candidates, they’re trying to find any candidates [inaudible 00:06:07]-

William Tincup:
Somebody with a pulse.

Art Zeile:
Yes, exactly. Again, comp T is saying that the unemployment rate is 1.3% for the month of March, that’s just mind boggling.

William Tincup:
That is insane. What are your thoughts on skilling people up or harvesting talent? So maybe your early stage career folks or people coming from a completely different background altogether, and they don’t have any skills, any tech skills, but they have the attitude and aptitude, so they want to learn. Do you think companies need to start looking at, okay, how do we partner with our local community college? How do we partner with… How do we build this ourselves? Or-

Art Zeile:
So the larger companies are doing that right now, and I think successfully. Amazon, for example, has a multimillion dollar effort to work with the smaller community colleges and other forms of training to essentially re-skill their warehouse workers. And so I believe that you can see that trend play out over the next decade as companies realize the supply demand gap requires them to do that. The other interesting area is code academies. So we’ve seen a number of different code academies emerge. I just don’t think that the numbers are large enough to make them effectively a real influence on the total tech job postings that we’re seeing in the United States today. But these larger companies that are putting meaningful dollars into their own training programs and into the community colleges, I see that as a viable trend for the future.

William Tincup:
What type of, roundish number, what type of tech post things or what quantity tech post things you’re all dealing with on a month basis?

Art Zeile:
Okay. So on a monthly basis, we’re seeing across the industry, roughly 400,000 open tech postings at the end of March-

William Tincup:
Oh my God.

Art Zeile:
Now for the entire quarter, it was roughly 1.1 million open tech postings. And what’s unbelievable about that figure is that it’s up 47% over Q1 of 2021. So 47% growth in open tech postings for Q1 of this year.

William Tincup:
Well, the good news is the economy, so the good news is okay, we’re growing. I mean, it might not show up in some of the things that economists would see, but job postings are great indicator of things are going well, right?

Art Zeile:
Absolutely.

William Tincup:
So the good news is things are going well, bad news is, yeah, we can’t fill those positions. And some of them, because I know a lot of employer branding folks, they fill a pipeline. And so they’re not necessarily job openings as much as a talent pipeline, which I despise, but I’ll leave that there, but it’s still, it highlights well, close to 50% growth. Interesting.

Art Zeile:
Incredible.

William Tincup:
That’s insane. We, in our title as we talk about advancing equality, which is different, when we think of diversity, inclusion, equity, equality, and belonging, equality, doesn’t get talked about as much, as some of those other ones. What’s your working definition or what do you like to talk about? What do you think about equality?

Art Zeile:
Equality, I think is basically saying that you’re taking out the bias associated with anything that could affect a decision in the tech domain other than skills and experience. And so from our perspective, what we’re seeing is people using a new capability that we released last year called unbiased sourcing, which takes out a picture in the profile of the candidates. It also anonymizes their name, so if their name was Jim Jones, it would essentially say Jay Jay-

William Tincup:
He’s from Guyana.

Art Zeile:
Exactly. And then they would also anonymize the college or the university experience that the person had.

William Tincup:
Oh, that’s cool.

Art Zeile:
And so that ability to eliminate bias is super important. We’re also seeing a huge trend in our virtual career events division towards sourcing based on diversity. So we have career events. And again, these are all virtual these days, that are entirely focused on gender or racial diversity, depending upon the event itself, but we’ve seen an enormous increase in the demand for those events.

William Tincup:
I love that. And again, getting back to not just eradicating bias and making more transparent around bias, because we’re all have preferences and biases and it’s getting in touch with and learning from your bias and learning how to manage it. But I love the focus of all of that being back on skills and experience-

Art Zeile:
Yes, sometimes listening.

William Tincup:
Do you have the skills or if it’s aspirational, do you want the skills? If do you have the experience? Do you want the experience? So in some of those, it could be even aspirational, which is fun, if the person, if the company has the wherewithal to train the person and the candidate wants to be trained, then that might be… What I love about it is that the focus on skills, the experience, it’s a great leveler.

Art Zeile:
Yes, absolutely. And I have to say that people ask us, well, why are folks changing jobs? How do you essentially lure technology candidates to your opportunity?

William Tincup:
What’s your secret?

Art Zeile:
Yes. What is the secret? And the surveys that we’ve done, and we do surveys of technologists every year, multiple times per year, it consistently says, well, they move for better compensation, but you’d be surprised, the third highest factor is actually for training and skills. And so I always say, that’s one of the things that’s a real differentiator, if you could offer that to your technology group, if you could provide them better training, they’re going to essentially factor that very heavily into their decision. In fact, we always say at Dice, that the half life of a technology skill is roughly about five years. And I joke about the fact that when I came out of the Air Force, I was an Air Force officer, I was a FORTRAN programmer-

William Tincup:
I took FORTRAN.

Art Zeile:
It’s around, but you wouldn’t find many jobs on the Dice platform asking for FORTRAN programming-

William Tincup:
COBOL.

Art Zeile:
It’s one of those situations where skills change so rapidly in the technology environment, if you could offer people those new skills that will attract them.

William Tincup:
I think what I’m seeing is with technology, is very similar, that’s a part of the package. It’s almost table stakes at this point, that yes, you’re going to be having an aggressive compensation and benefits and all that. So you remote whatever you need and oh, by the way, we have access to all kinds of different training. And there’s all kinds of different ways to do that training, but I think that if folks listening to this think that training is going to be the thing that moves the needle, it might, it’s definitely important, but it’s almost table stakes. You’re going to have to go further than just training. Training that leads to something maybe even internal mobility, like we’re going to train you, you want to learn Python, you’re going to learn Python and once you learn Python, it’s going to open up these nine doors.

Art Zeile:
Yes. Running a clear career path as well. Exactly.

William Tincup:
So it’s interesting. When I first looked at the topic, I thought about some of the marginalized folks and had a conversation recently with a fellow that runs a job site that basically deals with felons. And we were just brainstorming one day and he’s just like, “William there’s 70 million Americans with felons, that are with felonies. He was like, that’s a large number when you have 331 million people in America. So he goes, we’re going to have to figure out a way to leverage them.” I mean, not all felonies are the same and the length between felonies and non is not the same, no one’s saying, hire a murderer, but there’s a bunch of talent out here that we’re just not thinking of. And that was just one example, there’s great other examples of folks that we’re just going to have to think differently about.

Art Zeile:
Totally agree with that. And the sentiment that those folks that essentially made one mistake and utterly changed the course of their career in their lives. I personally am a believer that the political system should do something to expunge those records faster, or to essentially differentiate, as you stated, between felonies that are very serious felonies and maybe felonies that have less of a serious nature to them, or would be considered to be minor felonies. Although even that is a strange concept. But I do believe that we need to be much more inclusive and ultimately forgiving of those people that made those mistakes many years ago, and maybe in that domain that is no longer relevant. Lot of the felonies are tied to drugs and obviously the the laws associated with marijuana in particular are changing very rapidly.

William Tincup:
Yeah. And again, that talent’s just sitting there and again, it gets to the heart of the question of whether or not we’re in the business of punishment or rehabilitation. And maybe that’s based on the crime or the nature of the crime, but if we’re actually rehabilitating these folks and they want a career in tech it seems like-

Art Zeile:
Yeah, there’s plenty of openings.

William Tincup:
It seems like, yeah, there’s plenty of openings. It seems like we could match these together. When folks first, when they come to you, because you have such a wonderful Vista with tech talent and also wonderful history with tech talent and being there for them in good times and bad, things like that. Where do folks need to start, if they’re thinking about equality and they’re thinking about this, okay, we’re going to reduce bias, what’s your, I want to say table stakes, but that’s not the right way of thinking about, well, what’s the playbook that you say, okay, all right. So you’re ready, you’re willing, you’re able, okay, well, let’s talk about how we’re going to get there?

Art Zeile:
Absolutely. That’s a great question. So, in my opinion, the very first part of the playbook is to understand how diverse candidates look at the tech experience today. And that is best seen by looking at our equality and tech report, which shows that the answers to certain questions are pretty profound. We asked the question, how frequently do you think gender and or racial inequality occurs in the tech industry? And 57% of Black respondents believe that they have experienced that, whereas the number for White respondents is 30%. So understanding the nature of where we stand today, I think is super important. Then I think the second is to essentially make sure you are training your recruiters on their biases. We at DHI Group had bias training last year, specifically, we had two courses that were well, we used via a partner named partner or power to fly that focused on unbiased or unconscious bias and then also being an ally at work, it’s called allyship training.

Art Zeile:
And so I think starting someplace where you’re training people about their biases, so that you can eliminate them either through conscious effort or through the tool that I described earlier are unbiased sourcing, toggle on Dice. And then you have to go out of your way to hire diverse candidates. In my opinion, the idea of having diversity focused career events is very relevant, putting yourself on job boards that essentially focus on diverse clients. There’s a job board that we use called diversityjobs.com. Power to fly itself has a great job board for posting positions that attract a diverse clientele. So again, in my opinion, it comes down to making sure you understand the nature of the environment, understand the statistics around diversity today, training your people, and then making sure that you have an actual conscious strategy around how to hire diverse candidates that’s going to be successful.

William Tincup:
What are candidates, what do they care about as it relates to equality? What are the questions that they’re asking? Thematically, what are you seeing in surveys that they care about today that maybe they didn’t care about a couple years ago?

Art Zeile:
That’s so interesting that you should ask that. I would say that we are seeing a very strong theme that respondents to our surveys are factoring in, the company’s DEI positioning as part of their decision making process as to whether or not they’re going to work for the company. So if you think about these candidates, having so many different opportunities, like I said, hundreds of thousands of unfilled positions, and almost a close to zero unemployment rate. Not only are they going to get the compensation that they want making a switch to another company, but they can also go to the company that has the same mission and values in the culture that they believe is relevant for their lifestyle.

Art Zeile:
So we are seeing that over half of the respondents to these surveys indicate that DEI is actually a tangible factor in their decision making process. So if the company doesn’t have a way of describing that accurately, or if they just don’t attend to it at all, they’re going to be losing in the war for tech talent. That’s a clear message that comes out of this equality in tech survey that we just released.

William Tincup:
It’s interesting that you mentioned it because that was going to be my next question is how do they render it? How does a company render it? Because I’ve seen job postings lately where there’s a remote or a workplace kind of a statement, like we’re hybrid, we’re remote, we’re remote forever, whatever this position is, whatever the bid is. And then there’s something about diversity programmatically, maybe even, here’s how we spend money in diversity, but I haven’t seen things that are specifically around bias and equality. And I think it’s just a wonder, even if it’s on, maybe not a job description, maybe it’s the careers page, but just explicitly explaining, here’s our stance, here’s where our journey, here’s what we’re learning, here’s how we’re trying, here’s where we’re going.

Art Zeile:
So I think that’s going to become part of the conversation and part of these career pages much more in the future. And I could tell you that as a public company, there is an emerging, well, I would say momentum, around ESG as a concept and stating your position about ESG topics. For our purposes at Dice, we have company pages that our clients can buy where they could essentially talk about their tech stack, the technologies that they’re using inside of their core architecture. But equally they can talk about what it’s like to be in the culture of the company, their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, what they’re doing from a training perspective, how they are attending to marginalized communities. So there is a lot you can do to explain the nature of your statement around DEI and in the case of public companies, I think it’s going to be forced.

William Tincup:
Yeah. I was about say that.

Art Zeile:
Within the near future, like the next one to two years.

William Tincup:
I’ve been reading a lot about that lately and it’s fascinating because it’s not just reporting what we used to think of as earnings or profit or revenue or any of the normal things that we would do in an earnings call. We’re going to now do that stuff as well as also report people data.

Art Zeile:
Yes. Which I think is very healthy. And I think-

William Tincup:
I do too.

Art Zeile:
Once people see that data available for all these public companies, they’re going to be able to understand where they benchmark against those companies for sure. And then they will also hopefully have a best practice associated with those companies that have the larger budgets, the larger means, the ability to speak out publicly. And hopefully they lead the way. I believe that in the public domain, you’re forced to a higher threshold of performance, hopefully that pulls along all private companies as well.

William Tincup:
I love that. I also love the fact that y’all went through training. You’ve invested in partnerships and invested in your own folks, because I view biases, especially hiring biases as an onion, you peel a little bit and all of a sudden you discover other things that you just didn’t see before. So I love the fact that you’ve put your money where your mouth is. You care about these things enough to then hire outside experts to help y’all take y’all through a process. So you can start learning what’s there-

Art Zeile:
[inaudible 00:24:36].

William Tincup:
What’s there and how to unpack it.

Art Zeile:
I’m fully committed to it here at DHI Group. And in fact, this year we have three training sessions and they focus on belonging, the concept of belonging at work. So the first one is the power of belonging at work, the second is navigating microaggressions in the workplace and the third is having hard conversations through the lens of belonging. So we’re training our folks continuously on what we consider to be the relevant DEI topics today.

William Tincup:
Well, see that’s important because it’s important for the audience to hear as an example, publicly traded company. But it’s also, it’s important that this is where budget is being spent because you care. And again, you care because it’s healthier for everybody. So Art, I love the subject. I love it, I know you’re crazy busy. So thank you for your time and thank you for coming on the podcast.

Art Zeile:
Thank you William. No, really appreciate it. Thank you.

William Tincup:
Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

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.


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