We invited VMware’s Tatjana Momcilovic, Director of Talent Acquisition EMEA, and Maria Skeva, Talent Acquisition Manager of Sales EMEA, to discuss VMware’s strategies for integrating DE&I across their hiring practice.
Many organizations are beginning the process of setting measurable DE&I goals, but driving successful change management across an enterprise business is no easy task. VMware has been able to drive real results in a short timeframe with their innovative approach to skills and outcomes-based hiring.
Here are five key takeaways from the discussion to help you shape your own DE&I strategy:
1. Start somewhere
Rolling out large scale DE&I programs can seem daunting – especially if you have never prioritized this type of initiative before. The key is to start somewhere. You might not get it all right on the first try, but you must at least start.
Tatjana and Maria suggested starting by considering your company’s core values – how do those values align with what you’re hoping to achieve with your DE&I initiatives? And remember, it’s okay to start small. Your first goals might include things like: changing the language used in your job descriptions to be more inclusive, involving more women in your interview process, or hiring people from another country.
Once you have a good idea of where you would like to be with your DE&I programs, you can then prioritize your goals based on how much budget you have available to invest in diversity training and other inclusion efforts. Proper diversity training is key to a successful and sustainable DE&I program. It’s important that your HR and Talent Acquisition teams (as well as hiring managers) are all on the same page and are working towards the same set of goals.
And of course, once you get started and are working towards your DE&I goals, you must measure the progress you’re making (no matter how small it may be in the beginning), to see the effect your efforts have on the business over time.
2. Accountability is key
Ultimately, becoming a diverse and inclusive employer is not the responsibility of any one team within the organization. Everyone has a level of responsibility to work towards becoming an inclusive and fair place to work.
However, it is important that the change starts from the very top of the company. Business leaders must take ownership and responsibility for the efforts that are being made. During our discussion with VMware, Maria talked about the importance of getting buy-in from leadership, starting with the CEO.
At VMware, the common goal of creating a diverse and inclusive work environment has become ingrained in the culture. There’s a shared sense of responsibility among the employees at all levels. And that likely wouldn’t be the case if it hadn’t started with the C-suite.
Once your leadership team is on board and is doing their part to actively work towards your company’s defined DE&I goals, that same attitude of inclusion can begin to trickle down to department heads, managers, and their teams.
3. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Our guests from VMware encouraged the audience to challenge the status quo when it comes to DE&I in the workplace. Hiring is already challenging, but adding DE&I goals and targets into the mix can be an added challenge for HR teams.
At VMware, their main hiring challenge was that they wanted to fill their open positions with the highest quality talent and the best-fit candidates, but at the same time, they wanted to build a diverse culture and hiring process. Being the innovative technology company they are, VMware decided it was time to innovate around the way they hire.
They invested in a Talent CRM to overhaul their hiring practices and help them engage and nurture relationships with talent.
This new process required a major shift from the ‘traditional’ approach to hiring. There was some pushback in the beginning, but through active encouragement and some shifts in perspective, the team at VMware was able to slowly get more and more recruiters and hiring managers on board with the new way of hiring.
Maria shared that another way in which VMware has changed the way they hire is that they moved away from traditional job descriptions that (for example) specify you need at least five years of experience or a set of specific qualifications to be considered. Their job descriptions are now focused around more important questions like: what will you be doing on your own? Who is the manager? What will the priorities be? And what does success look like in this role?
VMware refers to this hiring strategy as “The GO Hire Methodology” (which stands for “guided by outcomes''), and they’ve seen great success with it. One out of every three hires they make today is a woman, and crucially the talent pool is growing: they are receiving 80% more applicants than before they rolled out this new methodology.
It took VMware a while to get the buy-in they needed to get their DE&I program off the ground and make it successful. The takeaway here is: don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and try something new, because that ‘new thing’ you want to try might just be what your organization needs and what today’s talent is looking for.
4. Be proactive about engaging candidates with passion and potential
Our speakers from VMware also shared the importance of hiring for potential and passion, not just existing skills and prior experience. At VMware, they have many initiatives that focus on helping candidates and employees develop their natural passions and skills.
Every candidate has things they are naturally good at. Putting those individuals into roles where they can do what they’re passionate about, is often a good strategy (even if they don’t have every single skill that’s needed for the job).
This is where ‘hiring for potential’ comes in. When a candidate is passionate and naturally skilled in one area, their passion will likely help them succeed in other areas of their job, even if they need some additional training and development.
One example Maria shared was VMware’s ‘retraining program’. They often use this program to help women who have taken long career breaks. Maria told the story of one woman who VMware hired (and has since promoted) who had a 17-year career break on her resume. Many employers turned her away because of this. But she was passionate and had several valuable soft skills that you simply can’t teach. Her passion and unique skills made her a great candidate and VMware provided her with the training she needed to come back to the workforce with confidence.
Tatjana also shared that VMware had programs to engage ‘silver medalists’, or candidates who were qualified and performed well in the interviewing process, but were ultimately not offered a position. VMware uses Beamery to help reengage their silver medalists, and match them to other roles they might be a good fit for.
Just because these candidates were not the ‘best fit’ for the first role they applied for, doesn’t mean they won’t be for a future vacancy. Silver medalists are an excellent resource for recruiters, and that talent pool should not be undervalued.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to have access to meaningful work, regardless of their background or career history, and initiatives like retraining programs or reengaging silver medalists, help to level the playing field and give chances to those who might not get them otherwise.
5. Don’t forget to look within your organization
Tatjana reminded everyone that a diversity culture starts with those you have within your organization already. She said, “if you want to change the world, you need to start with your family. You need to be better with the people you are working with, and be more respectful to those who don’t have the same chances or opportunities as you do.”
VMware puts a lot of time and effort into developing all employees, and making sure their needs are being met. This requires managers and leaders to identify what might be holding certain individuals or groups back from reaching their full potential, and then taking steps to help remove those barriers.
One example of how VMware has done this is through helping women on their sales team develop their public speaking skills. VMware learned that many women in their sales organization felt self-conscious about public speaking, so they held workshops to help them gain confidence and sharpen their skills. VMware offers similar programs for employees who want to develop their language skills.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a diverse and inclusive workplace where employees feel empowered to share ideas and be open about their needs. A diversity culture that starts from the very top of the organization is an important first step, followed by evolving your hiring practices to be more inclusive and fair.