Coworkers participate in a workshop at a company retreat.

Living Our Mission: Framework’s Equitable Hiring Practices

Oct 5 2021

Framework® Homeownership thrives as an organization because our team is passionate and invested in our mission. At the core of that mission is our commitment to becoming more equitable and inclusive.

Together with our CEO Danielle Samalin, we promise to listen, learn, and help lead the change against systemic racism in the housing industry.

To support that promise, our product development team doubled down on its efforts to elevate commonly underrepresented voices through its equitable and inclusive research practices.

Most recently, our People & Culture team is doing the same.

Though Framework doesn’t lag far behind the overall U.S. labor force, there’s always room for improvement. Here are some stats to consider from 2021:

  • 63% of Framework staff identified as white, compared to 69% of the overall U.S. tech sector, and 63% of the overall U.S. private sector
  • 61% of Framework staff identified as female, compared to 36% of the overall U.S. tech sector, and 48% of the overall U.S. private sector
  • 65% of Framework senior leadership (CEO and similar roles) identified as female, compared to 20% of the overall U.S. tech sector, and 29% of the overall U.S. private sector
  • 70% of Framework senior leadership identified as white, compared to 83% of the overall U.S. tech sector, and 87% of the overall U.S. private sector

Below, Content Manager Heather Senison chats with Stephen Brown, Recruiting Manager at Framework, and Alysson Wilson, Director of People & Culture, to understand how we’re making Framework’s hiring practice more equitable and inclusive.

Heather Senison: How would you define equitable hiring?

Stephen Brown: For me, equity is just a piece of it. The big terminology today is DEI: Diversity, equity, and inclusion. I like to define it by using a fun quote from my Diversity Recruiting Certification class. It says: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Equity is hearing your favorite song on the playlist. And inclusion is being asked to dance.”

The equitable part is you have a say in what’s going on, your voice is heard. Your favorite song is on the playlist. You’re a part of it.

Heather Senison: And we take that analogy about songs and dancing and apply it to hiring?

Stephen Brown: Right. The big thing in recruiting is providing the hiring teams with a diverse candidate pool. It’s making sure that there’s a level playing field, not just in the candidate pool that the team is interviewing, but also with our interview process. We like to make sure that the team doing the interviewing is just as diverse as the candidate pool that is being interviewed.

However, the process itself for each role stays the same. Everybody gets that same playing field. There are no modifications. A referral is still interviewed the same as an applicant or somebody I source; they all go through the same process. That’s a big component to the equitable piece.

Alysson Wilson: I would add that for us, equitable hiring is an acknowledgment that there are biases and things in the natural way that hiring happens that make getting certain jobs easier for some people than others based on things like gender, race, background, experience, access to different things.

And so equitable hiring is, like Steve said, how we level the playing field so people are getting the same options and access to the roles that we have available in the company. And I think it’s an acknowledgment that takes intentionality because the system, as it is, just doesn’t naturally do that.

Heather Senison: I read about programs that strip resumes of names, addresses, and other identifying information. Do we prefer instead to identify someone’s background, race, and gender, to make our candidate pool intentionally diverse?

Stephen Brown: I think eliminating those indicators is good in the initial phases when first looking at a resume, but for me, as a recruiter, to make sure I’m providing a diverse candidate pool, I should put in the effort to make sure candidates are diverse. I think there’s a place for it that makes sense and there’s a place for it that doesn’t.

Heather Senison: How do we set and measure our diversity goals?

Stephen Brown: It’s a big undertaking. It’s not a simple thing that you can just say, “This is what we’re going to do.”

We use a demographics survey to collect information from applicants.

It’s an optional part of the application process. If we notice that 80% of our applicants identify as white males, we can find job boards that are not geared towards white males. Or maybe our job description needs to have a different language.

The big thing with diversity in hiring is understanding that we should identify where we have a surplus in representation and where we lack representation.

Alysson Wilson: In terms of goals, we’re focusing on things like, what percentage of candidates who enter the pipeline are [Black, Indigenous, or People of Color]? What percentage of candidates that reached the final stage of an interview process are BIPOC?

Those are recruiting-specific goals. We have other diversity goals in terms of the percentage of BIPOC that are managers or that get promotions in a year.

Heather Senison: What’s an example of language that we no longer use in job listings or inclusive language that we added in?

Alysson Wilson: We removed, or at least we’re very skeptical of adding, educational requirements [to job listings]. We ask hiring managers, why is a certain level of education critical to this role? And all our job descriptions now say something like, “If you’re interested but aren’t sure whether you meet all the qualifications, we encourage you to apply anyway.”

Stephen Brown: One thing that we’re testing out, which was in an article that we came across, is that the more bullets and sections you have, the fewer number of females will apply because they feel like they might not qualify. The research showed that by using only one or two sections with five to seven bullets each, your female representation applicants should increase.

And then if it doesn’t work, then we’ll try something new. We’re not going to be stuck in our ways.

Heather Senison: Are we changing our hiring techniques to be inclusive of other diversities, such as gender, neurodiversity, or special abilities?

Stephen Brown: Our new tool is, when someone enters the interview process, I send a document that goes over things like what to expect throughout the process and the dress code. It lets them know that the process is all virtual and asks if they require any accommodations.

Overall, I want to provide a process that allows the candidate to show up with as little stress as possible so they can be their best. The little things go a long way.

Heather Senison: Thank you both for your candor. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Alysson Wilson: We try to have really candid conversations with hiring managers about things like, how much is this a growth position? Are you comfortable bringing someone in who doesn’t have that experience but demonstrates a capacity to learn it in six months? And do you have the capacity as a manager to teach them in six months? Or is the truth that you need someone who can come in and just do this on their own?

Stephen Brown: I think the most important thing is that equitable hiring practices take time to establish, but if we keep taking steps and chipping away at them, we can make sure that our company is hiring thoughtfully.

What I like most is that everybody’s on board. Everyone’s thoughtful in how we approach hiring and if we need to call something out, we call it out and people are receptive.

For more insight into Framework’s recent progress, check out these posts:

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