S4 E90 | eXpertease: Using data for impactful DE&I initiatives with Annie Lin

Lever's Annie Lin shares how to use data for impactful DE&I initiatives.

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Everybody, welcome to another episode of CXR eXpertease. I’m Chris Hoyt, today, your lead singer and the president of CXR, where for just a few rotations of the vinyl, we’re going to connect and talk with talent leaders, industry experts to talk about what’s keeping them up at night. One thing they’d like to make sure that you are backup singers learn from their experience. So if you’re here live, you know that you can join the chat on the screen and ask whatever you’d like of today’s guest. If we’ve the time, we’re going to do our best to get to that question. And otherwise, you can just find it over in our free and public forums at CXR.works/talenttalks. Now lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to these podcast and videocasts anywhere you listen to your favorites like Spotify, Amazon music, etc, etc, etc, or just by dialing in to www.cxr.org/podcast. Now, as a reminder, each of these segments and the guests are chosen around feedback received on our 2021 priority survey. Now, if you haven’t added your thoughts to this open survey with the hundreds of other top leaders that have chimed in, well, you’re just too late. We’re going to publish the results this week. So you can however, view them over at cxr.works in the research and report section of the website. So let’s start singing shall we? I’m I’m super excited today to introduce to today’s guest Annie Lin, who is the VP of People at Lever Annie, welcome. How are you?

Annie Lin, Lever 1:36
Thanks, guys. Thanks so much, everybody for having me.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:39
I’m super excited for you to be here. But before we before we started jumping in, because I love Love, love, love, love, love. Data, love data, seven of them. Who is Annie Lin? Like why should the folks that are dialed in and listening on the treadmill or dancing around the rooms to the music of our of our voices? What Why should they be paying attention to you share a little bit about your background?

Annie Lin, Lever 2:00
Yeah, no, thanks, everybody for having me. And listening to podcasts on the treadmill is my favorite way to listen to podcasts. So I fully support you, that is what you’re doing here. So like Chris said, my name is Annie Lin, I am the VP of People at Lever. My team is everything from recruiting, HR Ops, HR, business partnerships, programs, internal comms culture, you name it, it’s under the umbrella. And for those of you who are not familiar with Lever, we are actually a recruiting software. So we’re a talent acquisition suite that helps other organizations face what we still consider to be one of the biggest challenges for companies to scale and succeed, which is to attract and hire really great talent. And so as you can imagine, I have the privilege of being on the meda team here at Lever running talent at a company whose product itself is very much focused on talent. So that’s been a it’s definitely been a been a joy, to be able to be a part of that journey.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:56
Good stuff, what’s been fun to actually watch that organization, that company grow over the last, you know, a number of years. So it’s been really kind of interesting, I guess, the last five or six years really blown up. So it’s a lot of fun. And I’m glad you were able to join us. Thank you so much. So

Annie Lin, Lever 3:10

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:11
You and I talked before, and I shared kind of a funny story, which is only sort of half half not true. But I fell in love with data from a recruiting standpoint when as a as a punishment, of so to speak, my boss and I, at the time did not get along very well. And as a punishment, she gave me the reports team. And I thought, oh my god, this is where my career goes to die. And but what I found out was I loved data, like the data powered, everything could power every decision within every element of recruiting and to some degree at that point, HR that we were using it for right within the organization. I want to talk to you a little bit about because because we’re we touched base was the importance of data around DE&I initiatives. And so with like, you know, with the clock running sort of what what would you want everybody to know about how data can help those efforts, get legs those that can sort of move the needle from from intent to impact?

Annie Lin, Lever 4:08
Yeah, no great question. And obviously DE&I is such a top-of-mind topic for so many people, leaders and just business leaders in general right now. And my bias is you’ll you’ll likely tell from this podcast is very much that if you don’t have data to back up your decisions, you’re going about those decisions blindly, in a lot of ways. And so that is no different from from DE&I. I think one thing that I see is a lot of business leaders will apply this sort of data driven model to so many other aspects and help me think about running their business. But for some reason, when it comes to DE&I suddenly, there’s a lot less uses of that muscle and I really encourage everybody to use that same muscle that perhaps you’re used to for other parts of the business into think about essentially where I would start is to think about every part of the employee lifecycle from recruiting to onboarding to when they maybe get their performance reviews and comp reviews, promotions, when they exit etc. Look at every single stage, and use data at every single stage to identify where there may be gaps of where things can be better. I’ll give you an example just to make it a little bit more concrete. Obviously, recruiting is an area I could talk forever about. But I want to actually give you an example in the way we think about comp, and performance reviews. So we have, you know, 360 reviews, like a lot of companies do, we do a bi annual process where we visit everybody’s compensation and equity. And where data really comes in for the way we think about DE&I at that particular stage, is that my team actually does a thorough analysis every single time. So every six months, we what we do around the base, when the results come in my team runs a very thorough analysis of how the results are distributed by different types of demographic groups. So we’ll look at who’s getting raises, how much is the raise who is getting promoted, etc, etc, by genders, by different racial groups, by age groups by a couple of different dimensions of DE&I that we think of. And we basically take a look at that data and see if there are any trends that we don’t want to see, quite frankly, because we know that comp and performance is an area where unconscious bias can creep in if there are trends, we don’t want to see we talk about it, and we flag it for these kind of team. And we actually make changes, we think it makes sense.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:29
So where would you recommend like that’s great at a young company? I think right that makes sense to you and kind of your preventative? In that measure? Where do you think an organization that has 200,000 employees? Should should start something like that? I mean, I get let’s get some stakeholders involved. Let’s start talking about this. But what would be something you tell somebody who said at a large organization that may have established biases or established trends? Were up like, how could they start that journey?

Annie Lin, Lever 7:00
Yeah, I mean, that’s surprisingly, I will still say start with data. Data is a phenomenal way of actually surfacing how things are going, I think of data as the way you paint the State of the Union, where things are going on where there are gaps. And it’s also an ability for you to influence other decision makers in the company, right? So it, especially if you have folks in organizations, who are at varying degrees of being bought in to the importance of DE&I it’s much more powerful, instead of just you showing up with, let’s say, what could be perceived as your opinions of what the company should focus on that you actually bring data? So on the recruiting side, for example, this is where I think data, I would encourage everybody to just make this a standard part of how you operate right? Is that do you have a good cadence of collecting, like, obviously optional, anonymous demographic data from your candidates that will allow you to then run analysis that shows this is the diversity of our candidate pool at various stage, various stages of our recruiting process. And just as an example, it might allow you to show that there is a pretty big drop off. In underrepresented groups. Were you as an example, go from recruiter phone screen to hiring manager from screen or hiring manager full screen to panel. And we if you can identify specific gaps like that you’re also identifying more actionable next steps that you can potentially take. Because suddenly, you made it, you turn the potential issue from the shying category of DE&I which can feel very overwhelming to hate. We have some hotspots are these three specific areas of our process? What do we think we actually want to do with anything in what are the next steps?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:40
So let me ask you, you know, typically, we don’t talk about our guests, organizations or their necessarily their products, and we try to avoid kind of the salesy piece, but I think this just this just fits too nicely. So I have to ask, so like, from a Lever perspective, are you seeing an increased desire from from customers for that data collection at various points in the process?

Annie Lin, Lever 9:05
100%. When we talk to our customers, and we talk to folks who are thinking about being Lever customers, DE&I is one of the most consistently common topics that gets brought up and is very top-of-mind for talent leaders, from what we can tell, almost in every single conversation, it gets brought up.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:28
And would you, so Annie what I think I hear what you’re saying, and I agree with you that you, would you you’re thinking that data, especially from a DE&I standpoint, shouldn’t be woven in to everything that we do. If a system we’re going to go now outside of your bias for the product, but if a system doesn’t necessarily support it, or again, back to folks who are just sort of grappling with how to collect that data, and on the recruiting side, I think it’s easiest to start there. How would you recommend those conversations take place internally, like, can I can I talk my company to putting a pre screened question? Up to load let candidates self identify on the front end. Sure, maybe, but then any recommendations on how I get that to be part of the leadership conversation?

Annie Lin, Lever 10:10
Yeah, it’s an excellent question I think so much of DI work is is about, especially in the beginning, when you’re getting the program set up is so much of it is buy in work, is trying to get the rest of the leadership team right to be to be onboard. I think this is where I’m beating this to death here right? I think this is where you have to be very mindful of what actually motivates the leadership team. Right. And this is where data can also be helpful. So this is what I mean, different types of data. You might if you have folks on the leadership team, who are, as I mentioned earlier, maybe at different stages of being bought into just how important the idea really is, I think there’s folks might say it’s important, but they really think it’s important. It is I think it is up to in many ways the people leader to paint the picture of why this is really important, draw the connection to other things in the business that other leaders might care more about. So for example, it’s likely that you, as a team are already having exit interviews, you already have some qualitative or quantitative data about what people say, when they leave the company, you likely also have some information about feedback of current employees, and your top performers in particular, it’s not unlikely that the DI is going to be one of the things that people bring up. Because it is top of mind not just for talent leaders is top of mind for people in general. So if you’re starting to see that as a company, you’re losing a lot of great performers. Or you have a lot of current employees who are thinking about leaving or at risk of leaving, because they feel like the company’s not doing enough. That is an excellent piece of intel. In fact, I think it is, as a people leader, your your, your responsibility, in fact, to surface intel like that, right. So that the you and the rest of the leadership team can talk about if we want to retain our great people, because they’re they’re incredibly important for the business’s success. We have to address areas like this, this is something that we can we can no longer ignore. We can no longer not take more action on because these are the impact that we’re going to see beyond the right we’re going to see people will leave people will go look for companies that take this more seriously, from their perspective. We may have disengaged, we may have disengaged employees.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:33
Yeah, well, and I think you raise a really good point and that data is powering these decisions, whether you are the leader trying to push initiatives and showcasing that data or whether you are someone trying to push this effort uphill within your own organization. It’s the facts, right? You can’t argue with that. So if you can get your arms around collecting some of that data, even even if it’s smaller to begin with, I think that empowers you to bring a level of credibility to those conversations that are really big deal. And I just I just love that.

Annie Lin, Lever 13:03

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:04
Yeah, it’s good stuff. It’s strong. Annie, thank you so much. I’m so excited that you got to join us. I know it’s it’s a quick sprint that we do when we sing a fast song, but I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Annie Lin, Lever 13:13
Absolutely. I love it. Thanks, everybody.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:16
All right. Okay, listeners, be sure to join us May 4, 12pm 12pm/ 3pm est, when we connect with Jeffrey Moses. Now he is the founder and CEO of Parker Dewey, he plans to join us and talk about experiencial recruiting and how it can help companies to overcome various recruiting challenges, specifically those especially those in early career recruitment. So whatever you do, be sure to call your mom and let her know where you’ll be next week during that time so that she doesn’t worry about you and make sure you’ve got your Mother’s Day card in the mail by the way so until that next week, we hope to see you in our incredibly active talent community forums at CXR.works/talenttalks Thanks everybody.

Announcer 13:54
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