S4 E110 | CXR Podcast: Anoop Gupta

CEO and Co-Founder of Seekout, Anoop Gupta sits down with Chris as the discuss DE&I Intent vs Impact and what corporations can be doing better

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Welcome to another show everybody. I am Chris Hoyt, president of CareerXroads, aka CXR. It’s a mouthful. And today on our podcast show, we’ve got Anoop Gupta dear friend, he is the co-founder and CEO of Seekout. Anoop, welcome to the show.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:37
Hey, Chris, so nice to be here today.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:40
It’s great to have you back. You’re in Seattle?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:43
Yes, yes, we are Seattle based close to Microsoft.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:47
Nice and are are all of you there, you kind of spread out as your team kind of spread out every while we are around 1/3 or remote.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:55
Two thirds are in the Seattle area. But the number of people coming to office is still very small.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:03
Alright, and you just love it out there. Right? It’s just a good. So I know you got some Microsoft roots. You’re mentioned of Microsoft.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 1:09
Yeah, I spent 18 years at Microsoft before starting Seekout and yeah, we have a roots. and it’s a lovely place. You know, I moved from Stanford as a barrier to Seattle 22 years ago. And it was always the case, you know, I’ll be going to go back. I was attending a faculty at Stanford. But after one year, my wife said, We are staying here and we love the mountains, the lakes, the water, you know, so it’s a great place to be.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:40
Yeah it’s a beautiful part of the country. So I think we asked from time to time we have some folks come on the show to just talk about a topic. And we spend about 10 minutes on one that that the guests and I just sort of pick sometimes out of the air sometimes because everybody’s talking about it sometimes because it’s just a pet project or a passion project of the guests. And you and I arrived at the point of talking point of DE&I and what the organizations perhaps could be doing a little better, did we not?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 2:12
Yes, yes. We talked about intent versus impact.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:18
It’s a great phrase, I love that phrase. I stole it from Rocki Howard, I’m pretty sure we got to give her complete credit for it. But it’s a wonderful phrase. And it is the difference of, you know, making a lot of noise versus making some kind of difference. Right? And and so I’ll just lob it to you, we can just jump right in and talk for a couple minutes around, do you see an area of opportunity for employers, whether they be on the vendor side or the corporate side or whatever, for employers to to make more of a difference, not just not just some standing on a soapbox, and yelling about how things should be different? But do you see a lot of opportunity, or some chance for employers to take note and actually move the needle a little bit?

Chris, So my this thing is, you know, last year has brought to the forefront. The racial and ethnic inequities that we have, and lots of CEOs and C suite is talking about change. So I think talking about it is also important, and is a first step to say we want to make a difference, right? So the CEOs can come here is a target that we want to set for this coming year. But then it falls to often to the HR ta organizations to say how do we translate all of those good intentions into real action and measurable results? That is where we think you know, we can others can technology can attitudes can rally how and using data as an ally to making real difference that is there and would love to dig in.

I think data is an incredible weapon when used correctly, right? When

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 4:06

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:06
When we lean in and actually use it correctly and not just use it as a as a talking point, his particular set of data, a particular piece of that or an example that you’ve seen where where it actually has made a difference right or or about a particular point on DNI that you’re passionate about?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 4:24
Yeah, no, sure. There are lots of ways. So you know, within Seekout, for example, for any talent pool, and you can say data scientists with 10 years of experiences so that our company wide or, you know, Technology Division wide, we infer diversity, it can tell you the percentage that are that are women or black or Latin x or veterans and so on and so forth. Now, this data can be used in a wide variety of ways. The first thing I often talk about is how do you set targets right? Setting targets. What’s important is they be realistic, achievable, otherwise, everybody feels like a loser. Right? So if you’re saying for the engineering organization or for data scientists, we will tell you with sufficient accuracy and precision that around 2.2 to 2.3% of black, as an example, right, so means if you’re setting target or the set mouthy in our organization, you want 5% or 1% of this thing, you can have a conversation, you can have a conversations with the hiring managers, and leverage that data to set targets, that will be achievable, that you can go on that. The second place where data comes in really important, is leading to very inclusive job descriptions. There was a an article in The New York Times about hidden tower, what that related to, I think it was just yesterday or day before, and it talked about, we go and write job description, then we keep adding more requirements to add. And then we say, oh, newer standards, you know, that are there, and we can’t find any of it in writing inclusive job descriptions, is not just about, you know, my language, is not saying, you know, we’re gonna beat him up and crush him. and when it is about saying what are the must have requirements? And what a nice to her requirements and what are not requirements at all, to be successful in the job, right? And so if you have a tool, which will let you take any job description, and have a data driven conversation with the arm and said, Can we get rid of this? Can we get rid of this, you really need a senior data scientist? Can we have a data scientist with 10 years of experience, you rarely need that those conversations, you know, become much more meaningful when you have data.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:05
But if you do, you’re bringing up to really pivotal and, and hot items. Within both of those examples, right? You’re bringing up one that’s talking about setting objectives. Right, so let’s talk about setting objectives for bringing new talent. And then you’re bringing up another one that’s talking about what’s really required in the job, also a big challenge for a lot of teams to get through. So let’s stick let’s go with the first one first,

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 7:30

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:31
When you set an objective to how many people you need to hire that are people of color, or let’s say female. The challenge we’re seeing from a lot of our members, is that at some level, the recruiters still have an incredible lack of visibility into what the slate looks like. Now, there are some products or some services solutions out there that they give sort of a generic piece of that. But we’re still seeing and it is a scrambled mess across the board of where the data is getting collected and where it’s being displayed or shown to the rears, if any, are you seeing a change? in that? Are you seeing a shift that organizations are saying, alright, recruiter, we’re gonna let you see the diversity of your own slate that you’ve created, or are you still seeing the same crap we were dealing with 5-10 years ago, where you are held to hiring this many diverse people, but you are not allowed to see you’re gonna have to figure out another way to guess how they’re female or how they’re a person of color.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 8:26
Ya know? So I think, you know, again, what I’m not advocating is, you know, setting quotas or anything else. I’m just saying, you know, understanding the reality of what talent pools look, looks like, is important. Okay, second, having conversations, data driven conversations with hiring managers, is, you know, really important, I often cite a quote from the CEO of Netscape, you know, the first center advisor, and he says, “Hey, if it you know, you have data for this meeting, let’s have a discussion. If it is a lot of opinions, let’s go with mine.” And you know, data is important, then the thing is that you know, tools like seek out and a few others we do let you actually source you know, with a click, you can find highly qualified women highly qualified like they exist. It is just that if you have to scroll through 20 pages, or 100 pages to find the right person, we are not very good at doing that. Okay, maybe I just used to Google right, we look at the first page, second page, and then we say it doesn’t exist. Okay. So the whole thing is how can you surface in a more easy way so you can look, and then it does allow you to build diverse slates every time and we know it’s not about just putting one token diverse, underrepresented minority can candidates, it is important to have two or three serious consideration. And the next step we talk about is, you know, reducing unconscious bias. In fact, what you send to the hiring manager doesn’t have images doesn’t have names. That’s it that any information, you know, you can even remove the schools you attended to have, you know, remove bias for the top 50 universities and Ivy’s and then have a real discussion.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:32
I am a huge advocate of, and I’m maybe a little more hardline than you are on that on that element. But I’m a huge advocate for the kind of set objectives. But they’ve got to be set. I think, in my humble opinion, they have got to be set on both the recruiter side of bringing that talent and getting a diverse slate set up. But also there have to be some objective set internally. Not just I’m going to somebody from a mobility standpoint, but also from who does the interviews, right, yeah, it has to be some conversation on diversity of interviewers, or interview panels. This is my favorite one that no, that makes everybody uncomfortable. The C suite money, there has to be some level of accountability that says if you do not hit these hiring objectives, where we are reflective of the community where we have this level of diversity that we are filling this gap, your bonus gets impacted by some sort of money impact at that level, because I think that’s when it gets real, and gets us out of sort of this cycle of interest that we’ve kind of seen over if you’ve been doing this for a while, right? Some of us been doing this 25-35 years, you see this, we get really excited about DE&I, we hire these chief diversity officers, we put them in these roles. A lot of times things don’t change, excitement, what you know, winds down and find something else to focus on for a while, and then something else happens. And we’re back. And we’re hiring chief diversity people again. And so I think that’s part of the big miss, I don’t know if you have an opinion on on that piece of it.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 11:59
I think different organizations, culture is slightly different on how you do it. But accountability is really important. And I’m with you that you know, just hiring a chief diversity officer, you know, or diversity and inclusion officer doesn’t necessarily lead to the change, you have to empower them. You have to give them the resources, they have to be able to influence the tools and what the slave so that empowerment and accountability, as you’re talking about Chris rarely leads to the longer term change on the top of the funnel and hiring. And then of course, the whole focus on inclusion and belonging. Right mean, how do you make sure that once they come in, it is not involving door? They feel fully engaged, and actually bring their perspective and help make change?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:56
Yeah, yeah, I agree. Very well said. I think also, there’s an element to your second piece of requirements, we get into a really interesting, Hot Topic lately on job descriptions, which is one of the lowest pieces of fruit on the recruiting tree that we never ever really pick for as an industry, right? It’s been

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 13:14

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:15
Forever, forever for us. And, and the biases that are baked into a lot of the JD is like, must have this much experience must have this much college you talked about looking for, you know, a C suite player who still has to have a bachelor’s in something makes any sense with the amount of experience that that level, etc. So are you seeing anything, because we’ve seen a lot of people now getting really serious about redoing these JDs and, and they’re sort of dialing back this laundry list of requirements, right versus desire moments. And they’re actually saying, Well, here’s a little bit more about what you’re going to be doing. And they’re trying to hire this learning agility, this element of hiring for potential versus just experience? Are you seeing the same thing? And do you think that has a positive or neutral impact at all on hiring in the DE&I space?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 14:11
I am seeing that in many companies. Now, this list off you know, the set of college degrees years of experience is going down and the focus is on, you know, what they will be doing and how they can demonstrate that they can be successful, you know, doing that function. And partly I notice it because you know, I suddenly engaged with lots of customers. So you know, before I meet for the customer, I go to the job board their career site, I end up looking at a lot of jobs, then there is a small set of companies which are absolutely moving in that direction. I think the difficulty becomes you know, to talk it’s I think that’s totally the right thing is how do you judge? Right? So when are they you know, then you get into the recruiter chippers. And they say, you know, we know how to adjust some filters and find the candidates if there are some set of requirements that are there. But if you have a general requirement, which says, Hey, you know, they are going to be a leader and cause this kind of cross group collaboration and change. And you say it from the LinkedIn resume, how am I going to find out, I don’t know what they’ve actually done. That’s where we also bring some information together. So you can actually see what they’ve done whether they have a college degree or not. In fact, we have some employees who don’t, and they’re amazing.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 15:51
Now, yeah, we just had another guest on recently, they were talking about how they had made some hires, the radical shift in hiring because one of them just stood out as nothing short of plucky. And just this tenacious applicant that came in didn’t have some of the requirements that they had originally been asking for. But this candidate was relentless. And they’re smaller organizations, it’s a lot easier to break through the barrier as a candidate, the smaller but now they’ve got this incredibly diverse and diversity of thought, diversity of slate that they’ve just brought forward. And and I think a couple of weeks in now, they couldn’t be happier so far.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 16:28
Yeah, totally. So I think we are seeing the chain, some of it is slow. But I think what’s possible today, and we should take the initiative and those steps to use technology data as an ally and not as a substitute to make concrete progress. And we’ve seen companies do that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 16:54
Nice, nice. Thank you so much for joining us on the show. Really appreciate always fantastic to talk to you can’t wait to see a live in person again someday when we find our new our new travel normal schedule back.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 17:05
No, thank you so much, Chris. It is wonderful to chat and look forward to meeting in person here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 17:12
Good stuff, I want to do two things really quickly. I just want to call it one. When we have a guest on the show. Nobody pays to be on the show. There is no quid pro quo. It is just simply because we like that it’s honestly it’s because we like that person. I want to talk to them and hear about what they’re up to and what they’re working on. Secondly, I just want to drop a quick promotion, the nonprofit the CXR Foundation, nonprofit 501c3 has put together and quietly launched last week a mentoring platform it is free for anybody who either wants to be a mentor or coach or find a mentor or coach or both. All you have to do is go to CXR.Foundation, believe it or not, that’s a domain CXR.Foundation/mentor. Super easy and free. Check it out. I highly encourage everybody just pass it along. It takes one person one time to have one conversation I realize I’m at three fingers now, to make a difference. So we really hope everybody can check that out and we’ll see you next week on the show. Thanks everybody for joining us.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 18:08
Hey, thank you so much please take care.

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