Incorporating DEI Into Tech Recruiting & Retention With Crystal Crump of LaunchCode
Get ready for a transformative conversation with Crystal Crump from LaunchCode as we unravel the intricate and vital topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in tech recruiting and retention. Picture this: You’re hiring for a role, would you consider someone who might not meet traditional qualifications but possesses invaluable problem-solving skills and sheer determination? We delve into locating talent in unconventional places and assessing candidates not on their paper qualifications but their resilience, resourcefulness, and aptitude. Incorporating DEI into tech recruiting is hard to master, but with the right guidance you’ll be well on your way.
But that’s not all. Brace yourself as we shift our lens from recruiting to retention. Who should bear the brunt of responsibility, from the ground zero manager to the CEO and board? Ever pondered over the fallout of layoffs on your organization’s image and bottom line? Crystal and I venture into the gravity of diverse voices at all echelons of decision-making and how it correlates to equitable outcomes. Buckle up for an insightful discussion that unearths the nuances of tech recruiting and retention from a DEI perspective.
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Listening Time: 21 minutes
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LaunchCode is building a skilled workforce by creating pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology. We are helping jobseekers enter the tech field by providing accessible education, training and paid apprenticeship job placement.
As the Managing Director of Company Relations at LaunchCode, I am dedicated to helping individuals gain access to technology careers and upward mobility by partnering with business leaders to achieve recruitment and workforce development initiatives..Follow
LaunchCode – Incorporating DEI Into Tech Recruiting & Retention With Crystal Crump
William TIncup: [00:00:00] This is William Tinkup, and you’re listening to Recruiting Daily Podcast. Today we have Crystal on from LaunchCode, and our topic today is Incorporating DEI into Tech Recruiting and Retention. Crystal, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and launchCode?
Crystal Crump: William for the opportunity to be here with you today. My name is crystal. I am senior managing director [00:01:00] on our company relations team. My background has been in relationship management and program management. Most of my career for the past. Almost six years I’ve had the honor and pleasure here at launch code to work as a trusted talent advisor to our employer partners and be a career connector to individuals in our job placement program.
I help companies build a diverse qualified tech workforce, and which is a. Win for the company and the individual, and for me, it’s incredibly rewarding to do this mission driven work.
William TIncup: We’re way past why DEI is important. I’m Hope. I say that we’re way past why DEI is important. How do you actually do it?
How do we do DEI tech recruiting?
Crystal Crump: That’s a great question. William, I think it is takes intentionality for sure. That would be the 1st thing. And then just to get into a little bit of a background or set at a high level, set the context to launch code. [00:02:00] Our mission is to create. Pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology.
What we know is that there are thousands of I. T. Jobs job openings each year that go unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified individuals. And we know that there are people within our communities that have the passion, driving aptitude, the vetted.
Maybe provide some educational courses, some professional skills, and then have opportunities and be. Connected with employer partners that are willing to give their, give them a chance and launch code exists to do just that.
William TIncup: So building, interacting with different communities by saving marginalized but basically different communities.
What does that take for a company that maybe hasn’t done that as well in the past? What is it where do they need to start?
Crystal Crump: Sure. I would say working be present. So companies that are[00:03:00] looking to diversify their tech workforce, they have to hire differently. They have to be creative and meet people where they are.
At large code, again, we recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds and these are people that have maybe are considered non-traditional and that they don’t have a com four year computer science degree, but they do have. The aptitude drive, they’ve been vetted. They’ve gone through our program.
They have the skills. And again, they may not look like the traditional tech knowledges that recruiters might see, but they have the skills again. And the. Desire to learn and grow and to be retained. And so I think just to consider these people that may not have the meet the job description or like your typical candidate at the same time, they can do the job if given the opportunity.
William TIncup: What gets us into kind [00:04:00] of the job descriptions themselves and how faulty they are, because I think one of the things that you’re DR driving into is the potentiality of someone is not just, okay, you have a BA in or BSS in computer science and you’ve got four years of experience, X, Y, z.
That stuff automatically puts a lot of folks off because they don’t, for whatever reason, they don’t have those things. And so how do we get to the things that you’ve really touched on is the skills, the potentiality, the aptitude, I think is also some of the things that you use.
How do we, how do you evaluate those? How do you know that those, the candidates have those things? And then how do you convey that, Hey, the way that we’ve been looking at, technologists and the way that we recruit technologists has been a little faulty. And so let’s look at, let’s look at candidates differently.
Crystal Crump: I think it is definitely just, asking questions and trying to understand the individuals. Way of thinking and [00:05:00] salt and problem solving. I think it’s just really understanding how they’ve taught themselves something. So here at launch code as part of our enrollment process. We have a critical thinking and, just wanting to assess how do you have the stick to it of miss that it’ll take to get through this program. It is a very rigorous program and we understand tech isn’t for everyone. But if you really want it truly wanted and can complete the application process showing and showcasing that you.
Have been able to overcome challenges and and teach yourself things and have the resourcefulness that it takes to become a technologist. We’re willing to give you an opportunity to get into the program, teach you the skills and then we have a job readiness program to further assist learners in our program candidates with those soft.
Or professional skills needed to really [00:06:00] land their first job in tech. I think it’s just meeting people where they are and again, assessing for the underlying grit and resourcefulness and then assisting with filling in the gaps where needed. And I was like,
William TIncup: Yeah, I was going to ask you about soft skills because I can clearly see the kind of the path to hard skill development, people learning, okay, if it’s coding, the, getting people into classes, learning certain things, like I can see that part, especially the excitement of that as well especially if a community hasn’t had that and all of a sudden it’s okay, here, we’re going to work on generative AI and let’s look at that and then teaching them, et cetera.
Like I can see that part. Yeah. The soft skills stuff. I wonder if employers, okay, the technical skills. Okay. It looks like, they’re on path, we can definitely take them and then mold them into the next phase of what we need, but I could also see them also asking questions about soft skills.
Take us into that kind of world and what from your [00:07:00] customers and also your, your students, your candidates as well as okay, what do they need? What, where are there any gaps? Let me just start with the assumption be, it might be fault, faulty. Are there soft skill gaps?
And if there are, what do you perceive that customers want and how do y’all approach it?
Crystal Crump: No, that’s a great question, William. Working throughout the program, we are surveying and setting expectations with our learners and candidates on what success looks like. And how their prior experience many of the individuals and launch codes programs are career changers.
They worked in the previous industry, so many come from, maybe a customer service background or. They were a teacher or maybe worked in health care. And they have experience working frontline with customers. And now we have provided the tech skills that have can compliment their prior experience.
And so we are. Working with [00:08:00] individuals in the program to show them how their previous experience and skills will align with their new potential career and technology.
William TIncup: Oh, that’s interesting. So it’s so some of the things we see with veterans it’s translating what they did in the military.
As to what I call a corporate recruiter or how corporates would look at that. And you’re doing some of the same things, you’re translating, okay, you did these things. Okay, here’s how that applies over here.
Crystal Crump: Absolutely, those transferable skills are invaluable. And then, now, with their newly developed, or tech skills.
They can marry those two and bring all new perspectives and unique ideas to a an organization’s technology department.
William TIncup: As I grew up. DI diversity was, if we didn’t have all the other letters behind it, it’s just diversity. It was basically race and gender. And thankfully that’s expanded.
What are your customers? How do they think of [00:09:00] DI?
Crystal Crump: William, like you mentioned, D, E, and I and it’s also B. I know. The
William TIncup: belonging piece. In a good way. This is a good thing. I don’t mean to make light of it because it’s diversity, inclusion, equity, equality, belonging.
They’re all important. They’re all important. They’re all important. And all
Crystal Crump: different. Yes, I think companies understand or, have over the past few years taking more of an effort and to create policies and culture that support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and having programs and difficult conversations to discuss and address biases or other factors that might hinder it.
Thank you. Or, make the workplace less desirable for diverse employees. At the end of the day, we all spend a good amount of time at work or remote in the remote environment, working with our colleagues and super important, I think, and companies and [00:10:00] employers know that we want to not only recruit, but retain individuals.
From diverse communities and backgrounds. And so how do we do that? But it has to be a, an overall overarching effort from the top, but also throughout the organization. It’s not a, it doesn’t just rest with the D and I manager. Oh,
William TIncup: no. If done well, it’s everyone’s responsibility.
Crystal Crump: Absolutely. And for everyone to own it and to understand it and be part of just create that culture and care and
William TIncup: caring about it.
Like again, you can’t be, you can’t be rowing, upstream. Everyone’s got to care about it and it can’t be just lip service, which I think, there’s been a whole lot of lip service for years about diversity and in some of the social movements, I think, me too.
Love is love. Black Lives Matter, the culmination of George Ford being murdered in front of our eyes. I think people really started to [00:11:00] put budget and, it wasn’t just lip service because I think before probably all of those movements, it really was lip service. Like at least I felt that way.
And I hate that someone had to die, or multiple people had to die, for people to get serious about it. But it does seem, at least from the outside looking at it, it does seem like people are more serious about actually doing something about DEI.
Crystal Crump: Yes, I think you’re absolutely right. It has come more to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Unfortunately, because of tragic events and major cultural movements. It’s also corporate social responsibility. I think is it is. It is. It’s not only looks good, but it is good for the community. It’s good for the organization. We have to lift. Up our communities, we have to get involved.
We have to not just make a statement. You have to actually put the actionable items, tasks, [00:12:00] responsibilities, budget behind those statements to make it real and to make a, a real impact.
William TIncup: You’ve mentioned retention a couple times and that’s the extra second, second part of our discussion today, one of the things I’ve known or seen, excuse me, known seen in the recruitment process with Gen Z, we’ll just say is the one thing they wanna see is they wanna see more people in Gen Z in the recruiting process.
Shocking. Not shocking, right? They wanna see people like themselves at the organization. And I would assume some of the same things apply to that, people that are of diverse backgrounds, they want to see people that kind of look like them, act like them, et cetera, et cetera. They can relate.
Okay. So let’s say we’ve done a great job of recruiting. Fantastic. Now, what, how do they What are the programmatically or otherwise? How do you retain the talent that you brought in?
Crystal Crump: Again, being intentional and having, just like you said, with Gen Z and [00:13:00] having individuals in the early stages of when you walk in, and look around, or if you are on the on the company’s social media, what are you seeing?
Are there people that look like me? Will this be an environment that Will allow me to be myself and, show up as authentically is important. So I think having like employee resource groups is important opportunity for individuals like minded either culturally or other ways to get together, discuss ideas just being creative and having maybe other meet up sort of groups.
It doesn’t have to be formal as an employee resource group. It could be people that like to hike or here at launch goal. We recently started up. A knitting group knitting over lunch as a way to bring people together and, learn a new hobby or new skill, meet your colleagues. There are also like women in tech meetup groups or.
[00:14:00] Blacks in tech meetup groups Latino, it can range, but I think having those spaces and opportunities for like minded employees to get together, discuss ideas, talk about maybe things outside of work and getting it to getting to know each other is really important.
William TIncup: Is there any first of all, I love ERGs, SIGs.
I just love the idea of people getting together, like minded people, but also allies. Being able to come in and understand what’s going on. What’s your take on, the information that’s inside ERGs being distributed, not just distributed to the rest of the organization. So like inside of an ERG, in ERG, things are learned, some of it’s just networking and discussion and just like people, like minded people just being together.
And some of it, there’s also some things that are being learned. Sometimes I feel like that’s trapped inside the ERG, and I wanted to get your take on if I have that how do we [00:15:00] get that information out to the rest of the company?
Crystal Crump: Yeah, no, William, that’s a great point. It cannot just stay trapped within the ERG.
I think in order for things to come to the surface, be flushed out and to be difficult, sometimes difficult to address, but necessary. There has to be maybe an executive sponsor or champion of that group and that relationship or ability to, for so someone from that E R G A lead or even just a member to have a conversation and to share that information with.
The leadership or executive team so that if there are actions or things that need to change policy things that need to be addressed. It absolutely has to come out. Otherwise, it’ll continue to fester or could hinder the growth of the organization and hurt the culture. So I think there absolutely has to be those lines of communication and trust [00:16:00] established between the ERG members and, the leadership team.
William TIncup: A question that’s probably comes up more often than not is who’s tracking retention? Is it the line managers? Is it HR? Because again, doing a wonderful job recruiting, putting things in places programmatically, meeting people where they are. How do we know? Because the reason the question comes up for me is the beginning of COVID.
It was just chaos in 2020, just chaos. We laid off a lot of people. At the end of the year, there was a lot of another round of layoffs disproportionately affecting women and within that disproportionately affecting African American women. And I’ve, since then I’ve who wasn’t looking, who wasn’t looking at the numbers?
Like who wasn’t paying attention to what was going on? Either that was deliberate, which is really cynical, or they just didn’t, they weren’t looking at the [00:17:00] holistic pie when they made layoffs. So I guess the question is who looks at retention? Who’s responsible for retention on one hand, but also in the analytics of retention.
Who’s keeping an eye on what’s working, what’s not working.
Crystal Crump: Yeah, that’s a great question. William. I would say that retention is falls in the hands of the front line manager, but also much higher up with the people operations or HR leadership. The. CEO is also, I think, has the overall review or the board of directors, even at the highest level to look at what are our retention?
How are we doing? Where are we missing the mark? What else we could be doing? Because to the turnover and to, lay people off and then have to rehire them, retrain them to lose the institutional knowledge. [00:18:00] All of that is very costly for an organization, not to mention just brand awareness and how, that might.
Set the organization back quite quite a bit just by losing that. So I think not only the front line manager, but at almost every level, the CFO look at the bottom line and yes, it might make sense to, make a few reductions and work the workforce, however, just being strategic and looking at.
How that the demographics of that and to make sure that it is equitable and
William TIncup: It’s impacting the it’s impacting the progress that’s been made, like here we are talking today, just so happens to be the day that the Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action. Which I never, again, I didn’t never thought Roe versus Wade would be overturned in my life, nor did I think that Affirmative Action would be overturned in my lifetime, but here it [00:19:00] is.
Now we’re, now we have to, it feels like we’re going to go backwards. We’re going to slide backwards for a while. I think companies have to, they also have to look at that and say, okay, when we, again, layoffs happen. That’s just a part of life, a part of business. But if we’re going to have the layoffs, How can we do them in a way that doesn’t put us back into a situation where we have to start all these programs over.
Crystal Crump: Yeah, I think it is also makes a difference when they are diverse leadership at the table and having the conversation on how these layoffs are happening. Good call. Each of the employees are impacted. How are we providing, severance or other
William TIncup: Yeah, that’s the voices at the table, the
Crystal Crump: voices at the table
William TIncup: matter.
If it’s seven middle age pear shaped white guys, myself included, then they’re not, they’re probably not going to think about that truth be told. They’re going to be thinking about how do we do this and, rip the bandaid off and all of the other stuff, but they might not be thinking [00:20:00] other people, other voices at the table would say, Hey, we need to look at gender.
We need to look at race. We need to look at the programs that we’ve built and do this. In a way that, again, doesn’t take us back 20 years or 30
Crystal Crump: years or whatever. And if the organization does not have those voices already on the team, I recommend that they bring in someone. So there is diverse representation at the table and the company is like thinking of this at a holistic, more.
William TIncup: I love it. You’re doing God’s work. I appreciate you. And thank you for carving out time and coming on the podcast.
Crystal Crump: Thank you so much, William. This has been so fun. I look forward to listening and to sharing and to even checking out more of your shows. Oh, thank you so much for the opportunity today.
William TIncup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening until next time. [00:21:00]
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.