On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Dan from Yello about winning at DEI recruitment.

Some Conversation Highlights:

What does winning at DEI recruitment look like?

I always talk to my clients about is understanding what their goals are, because every single company will have different goals and different diversity type goals or different DEI goals they’re trying to reach. I honestly think the best thing about what we could say about winning is now companies are no longer just talking about it.

For years and years I’ve been in this industry, I’ve been in this in over 20 years. I always make the joke I used to be the youngest person in the room, now I’m probably one of the oldest when we have these conversations, is that companies talked about it and unfortunately it was just a checking a box. Now we’re actually seeing companies actually creating goals, looking at long term strategies and how to win in DEI.

And a lot of our clients who have been doing this for a while, understand it, but some of the new companies to the game of like, “All right, now we have to take this seriously,” which is great. It’s a long term play. So my recommendation for everyone is to figure out what your goals are. What are you trying to accomplish? And honestly, every company has different goals. Once you establish those goals, let’s talk about building a plan in order to reach those goals.


Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 26 minutes


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Dan Bartfield
Co-Founder and President Yello

Dan Bartfield is the Co-Founder of Yello. Dan helps with all aspects of the organization, and currently his main focus is overseeing Yello’s sales and client success strategy. Prior to launching Yello, Dan co-founded the largest career services software platform, EASE, used by more than 450 institutions throughout the U.S. Dan graduated from Miami University with a degree in Marketing.


Music:   This is RecruitingDaily’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 William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today, we have Dan on from Yello and the subject that we’ll be exploring is winning at DEI recruitment, which of course is on everyone’s mind. And Dan’s going to walk us through some things to think about, some strategies, et cetera. So without any further ado, Dan, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Yello?

Dan Bartfield: Thanks, William and thanks for having me. My name is Dan Bartfield, I’m Co-Founder of Yello. If you’re not familiar with Yello, Yellow we power efficient and equitable hiring for all early career candidates and recruiters. And we do this through a few ways. One, we have an end-to-end early talent platform, which includes workflows, interview scheduling, virtual and physical events, as well as our recent acquisition of WayUp, where we now have a DEI sourcing tool of millions upon millions of candidates that our clients have access to as well.

William Tincup: That’s fantastic. So one of the questions that people will ask is, what does winning look like? Strategically, how do you know you reached the goal of the…

Dan Bartfield: That is a great question, and I don’t know if that’s an easy one answer too.

William Tincup: No, it’s definitely not.

Dan Bartfield: And one of the things that I always talk to my clients about is understanding what their goals are, because every single company will have different goals and different diversity type goals or different DEI goals they’re trying to reach. I honestly think the best thing about what we could say about winning is now companies are no longer just talking about it. For years and years I’ve been in this industry, I’ve been in this in over 20 years. I always make the joke I used to be the youngest person in the room, now I’m probably one of the oldest when we have these conversations, is that companies talked about it and unfortunately it was just a checking a box. Now we’re actually seeing companies actually creating goals, looking at long term strategies and how to win in DEI.

And a lot of our clients who have been doing this for a while, understand it, but some of the new companies to the game of like, “All right, now we have to take this seriously,” which is great. It’s a long term play. So my recommendation for everyone is to figure out what your goals are. What are you trying to accomplish? And honestly, every company has different goals. Once you establish those goals, let’s talk about building a plan in order to reach those goals.

William Tincup: It’s funny, you and I have lived through an era where diversity especially has been talked about. I can’t remember a time where it wasn’t talked about. But we are also seeing because of societal pressures and just, we finally a hundred years later we’re getting to the right place, whether money is being put behind it, budget is being put behind it. People, chief diversity officers, people are being put behind it, which is fantastic because now we might actually really see change. But what I find fascinating, I know it would be really interesting because of where you sit is candidates are expecting different things. They expect to see a diversity annual report, they expect to see people that look like them in the interview process, et cetera. So the expectation, we’re way out of the talking about it stage, we’re going to put money behind it. But from your perspective, especially dealing with folks early stage, what do you see that candidates, when they look at a firm or they look at a job, what are they looking for?

Dan Bartfield: And I’m glad you brought that up, William, because that is a big, big piece of recruiting, especially with DEI is what are you putting forward? What is the organization putting forward? We’re seeing over half of all candidates will look at a company and look what they’re doing in their DEI efforts. We’re seeing 90% of Black students, that is the first thing or one of the things highly important to them is what are the efforts they’re doing? So companies can no longer hide behind, hey, we go to a large diversity event, hey, we do this. They actually have to put real effort forward in what they’re doing in order to compete for these top talent, these diverse top talent candidates. So we’re seeing everything from what are they doing for the community? Everything from where they’re showing promotion tracks for different types of candidates, as well as really just talking about it and being upfront about it and making sure that they’re doing that.

Now, companies have done that a few ways, as well as using different types of software and different types of databases in order to get those candidates, but they really can’t hide behind it anymore. You really have to show what you’re doing. Even take companies like Yello, we are not Fortune 500 company, but you can go to our website and see our company’s diversity makeup. We are very upfront and transparent about our goals and what we’re trying to do. So they have to publish that information as well, because candidates want to see it.

William Tincup: Yeah. And I’d even go a little further, if they don’t see it, they move on.

Dan Bartfield: They do, and it’s in really important part of their process and what they’re looking at for an organization.

William Tincup: And then we talk about like it’s a revolutionary idea. It’s not, we should have been doing this all along like this. The fact that we’re here now is great. However, we should be patting ourselves on the back, we should have been doing this all along. This is not new and it’s not new, especially to folks that are on the edges of disadvantage. Go ahead, finish your thought.

Dan Bartfield: I was going to say it’s scary. Like I said, now we’re talking about it, now they’re taking action. But you’re right, no one should be patting themselves on the back for this. This is something should have been here a long, long time ago. And it’s one of these things that, what if you take one good thing about happening in the past, it’s that now people are talking about it and now we’re actually we’re seeing actual companies take action.

William Tincup: Right. So one of the cop outs that I’ve heard in the past, and I’m sure you’ve heard as well is we can’t find diverse talent.

Dan Bartfield: So you’re not looking [inaudible 00:06:07]

At the end of the day. Look, some of your listeners will know this early talent is completely different than general recruiting.

William Tincup: Right.

Dan Bartfield: All right. Early talent for year after year, for years our company goes to these core schools. Well, those core schools aren’t very diverse. Why do you go to those core schools? Because that’s where my CEO went or that’s where I went and I like to go drink on that campus. I’m not joking. So you’re not looking for the diverse talent. There are companies like Yello who has a database of millions and millions of candidates where you can go ahead and get that information. There’s HBCUs, there’s also different planning modules out there you can look at, as well as every school has different types of clubs and different places. You have to go out of your normal routine of “I’m just going to the career center,” because we know and NACE comes out with the statistic every year of the best, best career centers, only get 30% of the population. So there’s 70% of the population you’re not even looking at. So there’s all these different ways and different offerings you can go and find diverse candidates.

William Tincup: I love that. I was talking to somebody that’s an expert in a second chance, fair chance space. 70 million Americans have felonies. And no, all felonies aren’t equal. But the simple background check, you check a box, you have a felony, you just get dumped out. It’s like there’s a whole talent pool there that we don’t recognize. That like 70 million, that’s out of 330 million, that’s a big number. And again, not all felonies are created equal. So it’s just fascinating. Go ahead.

Dan Bartfield: When you look at early talent, for years client or companies have been focused on four year institutions. And there are so many other places you can go, community college.

William Tincup: Which is littered with bias, just that alone.

Dan Bartfield: Yeah. There’s community colleges, there are boot camps, there’s certificates, there’s other places. We even have some of our clients go into the high schools and it’s not so much, hey, we’re going to recruit, even though we do, we’ll start recruiting the high school saying you don’t need to go to college or we can teach you everything you need, but they’re also branding their organization what they’re doing there. So once again, there’s so many other places you can go. And look, the career center and the four year institutions should always be a stop on your journey for talent, but it shouldn’t be your only stop.

William Tincup: So the recruitment process, do you find it different for diversity candidates? Should we do things different in our process?

Dan Bartfield: In the process, yes. But when I look at that is when I say processes where you’re going. What we find is you need to really have a mixture of physical and virtual events. And when we talk about early talent events is really the main way, we can define events, not as just career centers, I’m sorry, career fairs, doing class projects, info sessions, different types of pieces. So when we say events, we’re not just saying career fairs, but yes, you do have to have a mixture of physical and virtual and a lot of our clients are starting that process now. What we saw with the pandemic is that the pendulum swung all the way to one direction for just virtual, and before that it was all the way in one direction for just physical types of events.

But now you actually have to do a combination of both, because like I said, you’re going to have to focus on your fewer places where you’re going to physically be, and then you need your virtual approach in order to find other candidates. And a lot of times for your diversity, it’s easier to go virtual because you can go across many different schools. You can have pinpoint marketing campaigns or drip campaigns just focusing on a population you’re looking for. So when you look at your process as a whole, yeah, also your speed to hire is going to be a really big change as well. Before the pandemic and before all these pieces here, maybe three to four interviews in order to get hired. This generation doesn’t want that, they only want one to two interviews and you’re going to have to move quicker in order to get those hired. So there’s little things you can do in your process to speed it up. And also because time is money and from there you’re able to help you with your DEI course.

William Tincup: So because you mentioned events I want to make sure the audience understands, what a successful virtual event looks like for the diverse candidates. What’s the makeup or what are some of the elements there?

Dan Bartfield: Great, great question. Because when you’re looking at events as a whole, virtual is a little bit different in the fact that… Look, today to keep people’s attention is really, really hard. So you can’t come in with a virtual event of, hey, this is the job opportunity, this is that or even a virtual career fair. Our recommendation is interview your CEO about DEI, interview somebody in your organization about DEI, interview maybe a recent associate that was hired and a day in the life, open that up globally. Have as many people go ahead and listen to that and have it as interactive as possible, but just don’t focus on this is the job we’re trying to hire. Talk a little bit more about your company culture and what you’re doing in the space.

From there, you’ll get a higher attendance and a higher engagement rate and this is what our data shows. After there then when you have that event, now you can see who actually attended the event and then start going through your sourcing and screening abilities. Schedule a phone chat, and then schedule an interview. So from there it’s a little bit different concept than just waiting in queue or waiting in line. So that’s the way we always recommend doing it is just go beyond, show more about your culture and what you’re doing in the DEI space versus just talking about a job.

William Tincup: So I mentioned a phrase, people that look like me or in the process and I want to go backwards to that just for a moment and get your take. Is that as important as I might think it is in terms of looking at the company page, like Yello does, you’ve gone transparent and shown, “Okay, this is actually who we are.” So you can see that, but for candidates, especially early stage candidates, do they care about seeing folks that are like them or interacting with folks that are like them?

Dan Bartfield: They do. So like over 80% of Black students are more likely to apply to a company when they see people of color in leadership positions. They’re more likely to apply if the recruiter is like them. They’re more likely to apply if their company has put the website, like what Yello does and really just be very transparent about what they’re trying to do. Transparency is really important to this generation, specifically talent.

William Tincup: Right. What are you seeing with early stage candidates and like ERGs or SIGs, or like, we’ve talked about programmatically, what you’re doing as a company and how transparent you are, but inside that company is going to also be some resources. So are you seeing some of that being asked about or pushed forward for the company?

Dan Bartfield: You definitely hear it. I’m not hearing as much in my role. I can just anecdotally say yes, we’re hearing candidates asking for that, what’s my future? What are you doing internally? Those types of things, but I’m not hearing it so much in the recruitment process, it’s more after the recruitment process.

William Tincup: Right. So with the companies that you, and again, we’ll anonymize this, but with your customers, where’s the single biggest point of failure. So we’ll work the opposite side, the opposite side of winning. Where do we fail, in simple terms, most often?

Dan Bartfield: In a couple places. The number one is not recognizing you have a DEI issue.

William Tincup: Start with you. What does that do? You have to admit you have a problem?

Dan Bartfield: Yeah and not setting your goals. My biggest fear is that this goes away. I don’t think it will, but my biggest fear is that it no longer becomes a priority. When I talked to clients a couple years ago, they would tell me diversity and DEI would always be in the top five, but it really was never the number one reason they have early talent groups. Today, when I talk to clients, it’s the first thing they say, it’s for diversity. It helps us fill those roles. So where do people fail? One, they don’t set goals. Two, they don’t set a short term or long term strategy.

Like I said, if you haven’t been doing this for a while, you haven’t really been acknowledged other than checking a box, you’re behind. So what you need to do is figure out where your short term strategy is, how are we going to get more diverse candidates into our pipeline? How are we going to train our staff on biases? How are we going to make sure we get the message about our organization? But it’s one of those things where you really have to understand it and embrace it and put the resources towards it.

William Tincup: I love that. I love how you started with, you have to admit you have a problem. Like you have to recognize that, and if you can’t recognize that you can’t do all the other stuff, you can’t really move forward. And without disclosing names or brands, an experience where you’ve seen somebody do something really innovative, obviously they’ve recognized they have a problem, they’ve set some goals, but they’ve tactically or programmatically they’ve done something that’s really, really innovative.

Dan Bartfield: Yeah. That’s a great question, William and I work for an organization that just does a lot of innovative things in this space. So it’s when seeing them use the data that Yello provides to actually create strategic decisions, as well as convince senior management of the importance of DEI, because you’d be shocked the number of Fortune 500 that still goes on it, and understanding that. So one is one using data to make those decisions, which shouldn’t be super innovative, but you’d be surprised the number of companies who still don’t do that. So you focus on that. Two is what I really, really like is when companies start early in the process. When I mean early in the process is actually having a full blown high school program where they go in and they talk about what it’s like to be an accountant or what it’s like to be an engineer in the high schools.

And they’re selling a job, but they’re selling the organization. And when they’re ready for a job, it’s typically the first place they go to. So when I look at that, that to me is really innovative, how they’re really starting early in the process.

William Tincup: So let me ask you about skills or upskilling or the careers. So again, I think you did a wonderful job of saying, “Okay, one of our problems is we go to the same four year institutions that we’ve been to every year for the last 20 years and all kinds of littered with all kinds of bias. We can look in these different places, technical institutes, et cetera.” I love how you’ve done that. How much also should we be explaining the skills that one has and how they can develop other skills? As a company, how’ll develop skills and transfer skills, and even what a career looks like, like how much of it is the responsibility of a company to then paint that picture? Because I think again, dealing with privilege, I think it’s one of the things of a four year institution is that a career management center, all of them do and they teach you these things, like this is what a career in marketing looks like and this is what a career in accounting looks like.

It’s not perfect, but at least you have a roadmap for what it looks like. And so it’s probably not the same with a technical institute, it’s probably not the same with looking at community colleges. So what do you suggest for customers and folks that are out there that are listening that really want to win a DEI? How should they go about this?

Dan Bartfield: It’s really important, the upskilling and understanding that. And we’ve talked about, is it a little bit of a different approach yet? You’re going to approach a four year institution differently than you’re going to approach a two year institution or a bootcamp or those types of things. Once again, it depends about the position you’re hiring for, but it is really, really important. It’s all about training and it’s all about explaining and letting your hiring managers know why you’re doing this. I was just talking to a company and they were telling me that their hiring managers truly cannot understand why they can’t go to the core schools they always go to. And I gave them resources and showed them data of why it’s important to diversify and go to different places to find top talent. So it’s all about training and it’s all about truly understanding what your goals are in order to be successful.

William Tincup: I love that. Now I love that you mentioned training because also gets to a career path, which you mentioned earlier. And again, explain that to candidates, all candidates, but explaining that to candidates to where they understand, okay, here’s where your skills are right now. Here’s what we’re going to do to develop those skills. As we develop those skills, here’s what’s going to be available to you, and here’s what we would like for you in your career path or your next gig, if you want to use different language, here’s what we want for you. And we’re not just thinking about one and done, we’re not just thinking about how you enter into our organization. Yes, we are thinking about that. That’s important, but we’re also thinking about what you do next. First of all, that’s philosophical, but how do they convey those things?

Dan Bartfield: The great resignation happening today, it’s really, really important to not only your employees and your future employees what your organization does, but also your career path. And what we recommended doing is a mentoring program, making sure you put them with somebody similar to them so they can understand the process. We recommend once again, just being as transparent as possible. This is the steps you need to in order to do that and where you need to be. So keeping candidates engaged, keeping employees engaged is just now as important as how do we keep them within the organization. And if you don’t show them the right career path or show them the ability of where they can learn within the organization to get to the next step, you’re not going to be successful.

William Tincup: I love that you went there because it’s one thing to attract the talent, it’s yet another thing to retain the talent.

Dan Bartfield: Yeah. And we’re seeing that more and more in organizations. And let’s look at recruiters, for instance. Recruiter satisfaction for a company, was that ever a thing before the pandemic? I could talk to CHROs and be like, “We can always get new recruiters, all I care about is candidate satisfaction or a candidate.” Now that’s changed. We need to make sure the recruiters are happy, we make sure that we’re giving them the software and the tools in order to be successful because we can’t afford to lose them. We have jobs we need to fill, specifically in early talent there’s actually more job openings than qualified candidates, which is similar general recruiting, but they actually get more candidates into the jobs but did not looking at the qualified ones. So how do we keep these recruiters happy? And how do we make sure that they’re doing their job effectively and efficiently so they’ll stay with us?

William Tincup: I love that. So we’ve talked a few different times about putting people with folks that are like them, but let’s work the opposite. How important is it to also break down barriers and put people with people that are disliked them so that we move forward? I understand the attraction side of a candidate that then wants to meet and see and interact with people that are like them, but also think that if we continue on that path and that’s our only path, then we’ve essentially created a bunch of different pocketed groups within our own company. So how do we actually integrate, how do we actually bring people together in a good way where people are dislike each other?

Dan Bartfield: And when I made that statement, I should have been clarified like everything in our-

William Tincup: Oh, I made it too. No, I made it too.

Dan Bartfield: The pendulum swings all the way to the right or all the way to the left. It was, hey, let’s find the middle ground. Let’s find where we can put people together that are like so they can feel more comfortable, they can relate to experiences. But in this world, we are a diverse world, you need to figure out how to get along with everybody and those pieces there as well. I think it’s a lot easier to get not people that are not like each other together, because that’s just nature, that’s walking outside, that’s being around your world, but to make sure that you have at least a mentor, somebody there similar to you to help you navigate through the organization, I think is really important.

William Tincup: It’s critical. And I think to see people do that with a buddy system too. So mentor, a little bit more structure, a little bit different, but I’ve also seen that just as effective with a buddy, somebody when you first get onboarded, you’re assigned a buddy and you have a buddy and a buddy kind of sounding board, somebody that helps you navigate. I love that. All right. Your favorite hack, if there is a hack for DEI, what’s your favorite hack?

Dan Bartfield: It’s not really a hack though, it’s one of those things where-

William Tincup: It’s common sense.

Dan Bartfield: It’s common sense. When you think at how to recruit DEI, it’s what I’ve said from all along, you got to have a physical and virtual approach. So when you’re looking at this, you’re never going to hit your DEI goals if you just go to physical events. Or if you even just go to HBCUs, you’re never going to hit your DEI goals because that’s where everyone’s going now. So it’s like, how do we find outside of that? So you really have to use other resources, other databases in order to find that in order to hit that goal. The other thing I would recommend as a hack is if you have a system, make sure you’re checking your funnel at all times, because the worst thing you could do is wait until the end of the recruiting season to see if you hit your goals. So those are my two recommendations. I wouldn’t call them hacks, but I would call them more common sense.

William Tincup: So you mentioned funnel and I just want to make sure when the audience hears this that they understand, should they be looking at conversions at different stages in the funnel of where they’re losing diverse talent?

Dan Bartfield: Yes. And you should be looking at that in real time, because you will see and I can tell story after story that there’s this one hiring manager for some reason, that’s when we lose all the talent the first time. So what’s going on there? Or it’s the top of the funnel when they actually go ahead and enter their information, is there something weird there that we’re not capturing the right people there? You should be able to make real time decisions. In this day and age with software like Yello and other software providers out there, you can do this in real time. So there’s really no more excuses, but yes, you should be looking at every part of that funnel and every part of the hiring process to see where the drop off occurs.

William Tincup: Drops mike, walks off stage. Dan, thank you so much for your time today, thanks for being on the podcast.

Dan Bartfield: Thanks, William. It was a lot of fun.

William Tincup: And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

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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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