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Inside Humu: Recruiting a Workforce to Reflect our World

January 30, 2019 — Written by Joy Ekuta

Buzzwords around diversity, bias, and inclusion are everywhere these days. But to make work better, buzzwords aren’t enough. And we know from the research, and from our work with companies big and small, that a major opportunity to address diversity in the workplace is recruiting.

At Humu, we have work to do when it comes to recruiting a workforce that reflects our world. But we do have one significant advantage: as a new company, every decision we make, whether about policies, processes, or simply the way we treat one another, will have outsized impact as we grow. In other words, by making smart calls now, we have strong odds of becoming the company we want to be…

A company that truly represents diverse perspectives. One that makes inclusion the norm, and where belonging is baked into the culture. And where everyone’s work is evaluated on its merit alone. Because we can only make work better for everyone if we understand the experiences of people everywhere. In lots of jobs, industries, parts of the world, and taking into consideration people‘s experiences shaped by the visual and non-visual parts of their identity.

This starts with a recruiting process that allows us to cast the widest net for candidates, and eliminates as much bias as possible from the interview and hiring process. This way, when a person joins Humu, they don’t just have the skills required, or just represent the values we care about, but that they bring everything about themselves to add value to the team—from their families and their cultures to their first jobs and their worst jobs.

As we design the process for the Humu team, here is what we’ve thought about and how it works:

Candidate reviews—it takes a village. At Humu, recruiting is a team effort. When applicants come through the pipeline, the whole gang gets into the resume-reading spirit (yes, we do read the fun notes!). Multiple people read each one to make sure a few sets of eyes—and perspectives—weigh in on each candidate. And our internal Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging & Bias workshops arm them to be aware of where unconscious bias may creep in. 

Screening the phone screens. In your first call with Humu, you might talk to me—but it’s more likely that you’ll talk with someone from the team you’re hoping to join. Whether you’re a referral from our CEO or sent your resume through a portal, to maintain fairness, we have a rule that whoever’s conducting the phone screen only has access to your resume. This means who you know—or don’t know—is never an advantage or disadvantage.

Anonymized work samples. The research is clear: work samples are, hands down, the most predictive measure of future success in a role. To join Humu, you’ll be asked to complete a project that’s representative of the types of challenges that our team thinks about daily.

However, to reduce bias in grading, you’ll be asked to remove any identifying information in your work sample. This way, when our graders receive your work sample, they focus on the quality of your work—and only the quality of your work.

Meeting the team. Culture can be a loaded term when it comes to diversity in hiring. But our perspective is culture-add, not culture “fit.” That’s why candidates meet with peers, cross-functional colleagues and our founders over the course of the hiring process. Humu’s mission to make work better defines who we are; and since each new hire will bring something new to our culture, these meetings matter. We use this time to share our stories, and we want to hear yours too.

Structured feedback and thoughtful decisions. At Humu, most interviews happen in pairs (two interviewers to each interviewee), to make sure that there are multiple perspectives on each meeting. Then, using a defined rubric, interviewers each score the candidate independently—with no insight into each other’s score until after they’ve submitted their own. Then the entire interviewing team and a founder come together to review the scores, to challenge each other’s impressions, and to ultimately make a decision as a team.

And, of course, finding the best and brightest, wherever they are. With every new hire, Humu’s network increases, which is why we host internal sourcing events to maximize our reach into different communities. But we also have to get out there. I’m on the lookout while attending conferences like AfroTech, meeting graduates from programs like Code Tenderloin, and—because you’re never too young to #makeworkbetter—meeting teens at Peninsula Bridge in East Palo Alto for our Summer 2019 high school internships. And we’ll do what we can to keep looking everywhere.

Interested in bringing everything about you to Humu—or know someone who should? Check out our open roles here.

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