S5 E40 | Recruiting Community: Roy Baladi, DEI Recruitment & Reverse Recruiting

Roy Baladi of Jobs for Humanity joins Hoyt to talk about DEI recruiting strategies for visually impaired candidates and a method of recruitment called, Reverse Recruiting.

S5 E40 | Recruiting Community: Roy Baladi, DEI Recruitment & Reverse Recruiting

Roy Baladi of Jobs for Humanity joins Hoyt to talk about DEI recruiting strategies for visually impaired candidates and a method of recruitment called, Reverse Recruiting.

Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcasts for Talent Acquisition and Talent Management. listen in as the CXR Community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:29
So I met Roy, I think when he was still at SmartRecruiters. And but but this, this whole jobs for humanity thing, I think was just really starting to take off. So Roy, why don’t you Why don’t you give us kind of an escalator pitch for those who may not know who you are? Why don’t you? Why don’t you kind of tell us? Who is Roy? And why should we be paying attention to Roy today? And then I think we, we kind of jump in because you’re doing some really cool stuff. I think we should talk about it.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 0:59
Do Thank you. Like the who is Roy Baladi, I don’t like talking too much about myself. I’m just going to stick to facts. I was raised in Lebanon moved to the US when I was 17 years old, went to Virginia Tech, and then spent the next 20 years in the US mostly in recruitment tech, had a first startup called Fresh crowd to help people identify what is the right career path for you, based on your natural skills and interests, failed at that four years later. But then that really got me into SmartRecruiters. Because they use my own algorithm to tell me what are the best jobs for me and join SmartRecruiters at the seed stage pre revenue and saw it grow all the way to where it is today. An extraordinary product to be honest, and helped build a product, the marketplace, the conferences, while building the conferences, hiring success grew to 3000 people multi day conferences, and I deep dove into what diversity and inclusion means really diving into people from all walks of life. So I got to volunteer in prisons for 15 to 20 days at Pelican Bay State prison guard to see men get rehabilitated from it. Got to work with Lighthouse for the Blind, and spend time there to to get a sense of the really that invisible divide, that we don’t realize that you know, one in 25 people on Earth have low vision or are blind yet, you know, I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s fully sighted who who 4% of their friends are blind. So there is that big divide, even though that the Lighthouse for the Blind is on, you know, in San Francisco, some market and seventh, like it’s smack in the middle of you know, civic center. But people don’t know it. And they don’t end up seeing even though once you pay attention, you start seeing black people walking all over but and so the idea was how can you get them jobs, and people from all walks of life returning citizens blinds refugee, single parents, the elderly, the neurodivergent. And so that’s what jobs for humanity is it’s an expression of it’s a basically an employment platform, where any employer can post jobs or we can post their jobs on the platform. As long as and Gerry harps on it Chris harps on it, there’s a code of conduct where you are going to give a good candidate experience and you’re gonna get back to candidates. If you do, you’re welcome. You don’t nevermind. And and then where job seekers can come in and feel safe and know that, hey, these are jobs where I have been pre welcomed, that I can apply. And then comes the part where you connect it to. Yes, there is, you know, a matching algorithm that can go based on skills, but there’s a lot, there’s an efficient practical training that employers could get could be given an hour, to be honest, and then applied over a couple of hours where they come and train people. Yes, it’s that simple. You can literally give diversity, hiring, training everything through the data acquisition, funnel, and fair onboarding, with enough adequate information, so that you can create a safe space within an hour, but then incomes through one ear or through the other. If you don’t practice it, then you’re going to forget it. So that’s where then we pair you with a couple of job seekers in your field of work in your city, so that you can practice what you just learned and internalize everything and from there.

Chris Hoyt, CXR  4:33
So let me make sure I’m hearing you right, right. So you’re talking about a one hour training session that will establish a baseline right a level set a minimum requirement to deliver an adequate, if not favorable, candidate experience and improve hiring initiatives. We see a lot of organizations put their recruiters and even their hiring managers through this and we’ve seen a couple who’ve done a really nice job of making sure that they they certify and recertify on an ongoing basis for this piece because I think what you’re saying, Roy, and I agree with you is that if we just show it to you once and say, off you go, it doesn’t really stick.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 5:11
Yeah, you’re not gonna memorize it. And we could we could even do. If you’re curious about this, like holy shit an hour, we can, I can give you a five minute elevator pitch on any one of the communities like you name it. And then I can just share a five minute pitch on a training. Yeah, that’ll give you get your 30-40

Gerry Crispin, CXR 5:30
I want to go through the hour. I want to go through the training.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:33

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 5:34
Okay. All right. Pick your community options are neurodivergent refugees, blind and low vision.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 5:47
I want to go through all of them.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 5:52
Okay. All right. I am going to walk you through.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 5:58
Not necessarily now, but tell me how I do that later on.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 6:03
I will take you through I’ll take you through refugees, for example. Just because, or honestly, who do you think our audience would be most interested in refugees blind and low vision or neurodivergent?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:15
Let’s do the blind and low vision because we were talking about that earlier. And then if we’ve got a link, let’s share that. And we’ll send it out to the watchers and listeners for each of them. I’m talking a little bit about that. But let’s hear that, let’s hear the pitch on blind low vision,

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 6:29
you got it, I’m going to put it in the private chat. So you can share it with everyone hears blind and low vision, you can click on it, and you can just toggle to any of the other trainings.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:37
Alright, I’ll drop that in the chat while you’re while you’re giving us the pitch.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 6:41
Okay. All right. Let’s start off with I’m going to try to do this. Alright, it’s 412. My time here in London, I’m going to try to buy the 30 minute mark, in the next 18 minutes, you’re going to learn who’s considered visually impaired? What are the top three challenges they face? And how do you address them? What are the top three challenges hiring managers face? How do you address them? What are the best practices during the interview? And how do you offer like a fair interview? How to look for skill and potential during the interview? If you don’t have and you still want to help? How can you do that? And what are the best on onboarding best practices?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:17

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 7:19
All right. Here goes. Did you know first of all, who is considered visually impaired, that 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired? Among which 40 million are blind? That’s about 4% of the world population and 8 billion people. The unemployment rate in the US can you guess roughly what it is?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:46
Yeah, across the board are just for those that are visually impaired?

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 7:49
No, across the board.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 7:51
Three to 4%, something like that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:54

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 7:55
Unemployment rate for the blind is 36%. So we’re talking about six times the national nine times, almost 10 times the national average. So they’re the 300 285 million people can be classified into blindness and low vision. blindness means I cannot see anything. And then low vision means first of all, it’s a spectrum. But by but generally speaking, it’s site is extremely limited, but some of it is usable. Now, what are the excesses? What are the tools that I use in order to be able to see, so if the assistive technologies I use if I’m blind, it’s a screen reader. So it did, it converts digital text into synthesized speech, JAWS and NVDA are the most common ones. So if you’ve got documents, System Tools, Check Accessibility on your phone or on your lap on your computer, there is text to speech, that is kind of, I would say, more modern than Braille, because Braille is just going to be a bit slower than to be able to have someone you know, convert a visual format into an auditory format through screen readers. For low vision, you’ve got magnifiers so the magnifier is like ZoomText magic, these would then allow you to, you know, if if you hit Command plus, plus, plus, plus, plus, plus, plus on your browser, the screen gets larger. Those that don’t do that, and it gets all wonky. That’s not an accessible page. They’re very easy to to actually get get right because it’s the standards are already there. To be able to make all your software accessible for the blind or low vision, get a screen reader to read it not hard, and being able to magnify it, you do these two things. You’ve included 4% of the world population, where more than a third of them are unemployed. Alright, now that we have a somewhat of a good sense of what are the who’s considered visually impaired, what are the top challenges they face? First of all, one is they have a hard time navigating the built environment, science texts are not accessible. Now let’s bring this into your office, one thing you can do is just offer assistance with navigation. Second is they cannot see digital and electronic surfaces, computer screens, mobile that mobile devices or read printed materials. So all you need is just one accessibility expert to come and make sure that printed content is available online. Third, is finding jobs is a big challenge for them. And a big part of it is because of the misconceptions, many companies don’t know how to accommodate candidates who are visually impaired, or may not be aware of the skills they possess. Give you a simple example if God forbid, I lost my eyesight tonight. And I learned how to use screen readers. By tomorrow, would I not be able to do the exact same jobs or give the exact same talk that I’m giving today? I would blind people can do just about most, the vast majority of jobs, including computer programming, including building presentations and work in Excel and most jobs can be done by blind individuals. Actually, I have a friend who actually plays blind baseball, there’s a thing called Blind baseball. That’s a whole other story. So how do you address his challenges, challenge perceptions and assumptions, be willing to be patient and make the right accommodations for a blind person. Now, what are the top three challenges hiring managers face, we touched upon the first one, which is limited knowledge. But what a blind and low vision person can perform, I can assure you and many of them can assure you that they can do just most jobs sighted people can. So misconception, just myth. Second is knowing how to provide the right accommodation. Or if you go to ask john.org So that’s the free resource called the Job Accommodation Network, then you’ll be able to find the right accommodations that people need. Then third is how do you create accessible documents and communications for people with with low vision or blind then it just takes a little extra time to understand what you know how to format for accessibility. But if you try for example, Microsoft’s built in accessibility checker in the office products, you’ll have everything you need. Alright, now that we’ve covered the top challenges, and you’re like, Okay, that’s not too hard. Let’s do it. I went on ask john.com I read through it, I’m good to go. Best practices during the interview, so in person and virtual, so when you’re meeting someone in person, identify yourself, speak clearly to the candidate, normal pace and volume. Let the candidate know where you’re standing or sitting. If you’re going to shake hands, tell them that you’re extending your hand. As the candidate they need assistance, walk into the interview room, it’s okay to ask, it’s actually encouraged to ask if the interview involves completing anything online, let them know in advance so that they can use their own devices and assistive technologies to go through it. And if they have a service animal, the service animal is working, leave it let it be virtual interviews, what can they be part of your process, but be flexible with candidates who are blind or low vision case the webcam is not on or if they’re not centered on the screen, just tell them to turn it a little bit. And that’d be alright. If the interviewer is on camera, just give a be inclusive and provide an image description of yourself. And it’s you’re sharing slides and contents trying to voice over. So describe what you’re seeing in real time. Just like right now. I’m opening the jobs for humanity.com website, went to the training and then clicked on blind. And in here I’m looking at a video with a text that that’s basically narrating what I’m telling you. Which is interesting, because you may not have had this picture in your mind before I told you that I’m reading something and I’m now reading the studio because you’re just seeing me you kind of blind to what I’m seeing. Right. So the description as much as it’s helped you when someone can’t see permanently, then that’s very, very helpful. It just brings a lot of color to everything. Now when you’re interviewing them, and you want to look for skill and potential, how do you do that? First things first, don’t focus too much on the visual elements of a resume. Content is more important. Screen readers won’t always catch spelling mistakes. So it’s it’s okay if someone misspells Oh word like for example, decorative, the right decorative, surprise, surprise. That’s all right. There are minor errors that could be connected with feedback, don’t hold it against the candidate. And then just listen to the skills that they bring the soft skills when you were talking about, you know, tenacity, the ability to persevere. You can ask a bit, some examples and then you’ll be stunned by what you hear and if that’s really important for you. That’s pivotal. You’ll you’ll see these skills shown timeliness, the ability to collaborate with people, in a team, ask about these these things, and you’ll get a sense of their potential and their skill and how that complements what you’re looking for.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 15:16
So Roy, let me jump in and ask you like, these are be a good human tips. But they’re also some of the most basic things that you would tell a recruiter who’s conducting an interview or hiring manager who’s bringing somebody in for the first time. So why do you think in the in the work and research you’re doing this? Why the gap here? Like why do we think that these get missed, certainly on the front with help, you know, helping people with special needs or abilities like what, what why such a large gap Why 10 times the unemployment rate for for folks who might be sight impaired, seems to be seems extreme, to me seems super extreme.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 15:55
It is extreme. Two reasons, I’m going to give you the employer perspective, and then I’ll give you the candidate perspective to the best of my knowledge. Keep in mind, I’m always learning like tomorrow, I’m actually going to be spending an hour with an accessibility coach, and a career coach who is blind to go over all the content and then see if anything, we can improve on anything, and then keep on building it to just to build our knowledge, this proactivity this proactiveness that I’m showing is the opposite of that is the biggest culprit, the biggest gap is because I’m afraid to take a chance, I’m afraid to be wrong. And when you’re talking to someone who has such a high unemployment rate, and as you can imagine, it’s probably an 85% underemployment rate, then take a chance, they’ll be super, super, super welcome. They don’t often get people gives them a chance. So if you are listening to this, realize that inactivity is the biggest reason from your, from your side, because all the training is just shared. And peer reviewed by the head of learning and learning and accessibility at spectrum 70,000 employee company. Thank you, Jerry, through your through Jen, Tracy, she’s introduced me to Stacey. And then also through the career coach, I’m gonna meet to mark as he saw the content told me just about right. So that’s all you need. And then on the other side, from a candidates perspective, and this also goes across all communities, not just the blind. What I’m saying is, oftentimes, it’s when when someone doesn’t extend hand to you, you, you’re probably going to try and try and then stop. At some point, you’re going to stop at some point you’re going to fall behind. At some point, you’re going to be with your own group, and the rest of the world is going to be foreign and far from you, because they never learned your language. They never learned to open up to you. And then they’re afraid to do that. And then you have this invisible wall.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:09
Tribalism sort of kicks in Yeah, when we end up sticking with people who are more like us than that are not like us.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 18:15
Well. I also also add to the fact that we don’t train recruiters around this. There’s very few companies that do and and as you pointed out, Chris, sometimes it doesn’t stick if you just went through it and didn’t actually experience doing it. So, so one of the one of the key issues, and I did some research years ago in terms of where exactly what Roy just talked about how accessible that information was as a Masterclass and fundamentally does not exist in the United States other than there’s a few folks who can do this. But by and large, it costs significant amount of money. So it’s a big training cost, I think, I think a series of Masterclasses on the different types of disabilities, and how to interview them more effectively. And then certifying, if you will, recruiters, that they, they get a little certificate that they now learn something wouldn’t give them a sense of power in terms of that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 19:18
I agree with you. But I’m going to push back a little bit and say that I think if we if we can hit recruiters all day long, but unless they’re in an organization where the recruiter gets to make the hiring decision, it comes back to the hiring managers. And if we don’t train the hiring managers and the business units on how to care for even the baseline accommodations, right, the most entry of accommodations, or I think what is an Roy I’m gonna go out on a limb here because I haven’t done a lot of homework here. But the concern or fear that productivity will be an issue or cost will be an issue for accommodations if we don’t tackle that. I think we can train recruiters until we’re blue in the face. And it’s not going to do anything.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 20:02
There’s a lot of variables, Chris, and all of them are critical and important. So there’s nothing what you’re saying I agree with 100%. But in part, the choke point starts with the recruiter who is uncomfortable going to a hiring manager. So if the recruiter had more, not only information, confidence, etc, and a willingness to step up, we might start moving in the right direction.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:28
It’s chicken and egg.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 20:29
I know, it’s chicken and egg. I know, my favorite stories about that 10-12 years ago, I did a, I did a panel with about five panelists on disability issues related to this. And one of them from Walmart was the head of one of the recruiting teams, and he was blind, totally blind. And we decided to pump the audience of several 100 recruiters, because he gave me the slides. First, he was the first of the panelists to give me the slides that he needed. So so he also had a little box where little things came up, so he could read them as Braille. And he he memorized, but he also wrote an entire speech around what he would talk about with respect to the slides. So I told him, I gave him a clue as to when I was putting his slides up, and when I was changing them. So he looked at the he looked at the screen, and then read from this box that he was hiding, and in an incredibly articulate way, gave a tremendous presentation about aspects related to blind from their point of view. And then the audience was totally clueless. And finally, you know, he, he mentioned Oh, and by the way, totally blind. And, and the audience, you can hear them gasping in the room. So, you know, we there’s, we need different ways, obviously, to be able to overcome a number of these obstacles, but I’m blown away, Roy, that you’re doing this kind of work, not just creating a job board for this, but also engaging recruiters in terms of upskilling their capabilities to obviously deal with this. And I think I’ve got a bunch of ideas around that. I’m gonna send you some notes Roy.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 22:31
I mean, this is this is, at this point, my life’s work. That’s all I’m doing. I launched one of those trainings. The last one we did was with booking.com booking dot coms. Big shout out to Julianne Moore, who, who’s who told her team, alright 21 recruiters joined got the training was specifically for refugees, they’re really cared about helping Ukrainian refugees find work. So we paired them each way. So we gave them a training, one hour training on how to hire refugees. And the nuances are slightly different, okay. It’s not about you know, blindness and low vision, but it is about, I think that this person is lesser lesser than, because I have a stigma there because their English is probably not as good as mine, I look at the resume format a different to somebody, I think lesser of them, the certifications, I don’t recognize, they don’t have a network, I’m not sure about the legality of being able to hire them. These are the things that trip you, and they’re not hard to fix. So once you get past that, and it’s not that hard. And besides that we’re on from an onboarding standpoint, for a refugee, don’t do anything outside of offer them if they want some cultural English lessons from like, you know, outside, but like, don’t make them stick out like a sore thumb like a refugee, because they never asked to be a refugee that we’re, you know, They are living in this or, you know, senior living in Ukraine. And now, they are in this place with that label. They don’t want that labels to ask for that label. They just want a job and treated like everybody else. And then maybe some help with with English language, because they really, they had to adjust very quickly. But that’s that easy, then you can only really understand your biases when you’re automatically paired with a job seeker. So they prepare them to job seekers in their field of work. And there’s one in their city, the other one in Ukraine. Low and behold, six weeks later, when we checked in for the second time, see how things were going out of the 42 Refugees cannot find jobs, another 20 got introduced. Recruiters celebrated like you can imagine that cohesiveness within that team, they started to love their job again. And then it did change so many lives. And then we asked the job seekers how many dependents on average, like one and a half for so changed the lives of you know, 40-50 people in one cohort over six weeks. So this is something that we’re doing every month now.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 24:50
And really, let me ask you if I regardless of which side I’m on, if I’m on the recruiter side of the candidate side, and I want to be part of that sort of reverse, recruiting sort of that that initiative that you’ve got going on? How do I get into play? How do I get to participate,

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 25:05
just contact us on go to Johnsbury math.com, they contact that just for humanity.com Let us know, any job seeker who applies we ask them if they’re interested in, in being in being coached. So we have, you know, a long list, we obviously have a lot more job seekers. Actually, I was thinking 70,000, we’re closing on 100,000 By the end of this year, and then then recruiters so specifically for recruiters, if you’re interested, you know, if you feel like you don’t, you’re not enjoy diversity and inclusion, and that’s an important topic, but you don’t feel like you’ve got the skills yet. We can upskill you and and prepare you and then you learn those skills within five, six weeks, you’d be in a in a much stronger shape, and you will literally change lives.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:46
Well and is there is there a cost associated with this for the does this work?

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 25:52
You know, so far if, yeah,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:54
I got involved budget.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 25:56
So, so far, what we’ve done so far, I wanted to prove that it works. And we’ve so we’ve we’ve done it so far for free. But now that we’re doing it on a monthly basis, I’m gonna hire someone full time to do that. And I’m gonna start paying the trainers rather than tell them like, could you help like, I want to give him you know, 80 bucks for the training, or $100? Or like not not very expensive, honestly. And an exceptional people. So we’ll we’ll start putting on a charge to it. We haven’t fully digested what exactly that would be, but reach out to us. And we’re going to have one court after another. And then if an employer wants to come and sponsor this, you’d be better off for it.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 26:33
All right. I love it. I love it. Roy, Let me ask you, as we as we wrap up here, right. And we’ve got it’s the jobs for me and jobsforhumanity.com. Much easier to say than recruiters recruiting recruiters which now I never fumble on by the way, but jobsforhumanity.com. We’ve got some other links we’ve put in the live chat that’ll be in the transcripts, they can check them. But let me ask Roy I ask everybody this before before we say goodbye and depart on the show. If you were going to write a book, about this topic about the work that you’re doing today, Roy, what would you title the book?

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 27:08
Wow. That’s a great question. This Humanity because we’re in it for this reason, it’s not about changing too many people’s lives. It’s about changing yourself being the best person you can be be more human, rather than too process driven. And then take a step back, be more human upskill yourself so that you can be the better best version of yourself that you can be. And you’re literally looking at a person like a human and, and giving them a better humanity. So I’ll probably call it Humanity.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 27:49
I love that Roy who gets the first sign copy.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 27:54
You get the second Gerry gets the first. There are people out there Jerome Tronic. Jerome Tronics my mentor. He gets there he gets he gets.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 28:05
I just love Jerome. That’s the guy that every time I walk away from talking to him, I just feel better about the planet. He’s just that guy.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 28:15
Yeah. Jerome is I was I soaked every minute of him managing me and I just tried to emulate him and any chance I get so if, if if I show any kind of like, you know, leadership and inspiration I’ve got I’ve got I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 28:33
Good stuff man. I love it. I love having you. We got to have you gotten more often because it’s just fun. Granted, you weren’t in a you know, a shack in you know, some other countries somewhere in the middle of a jungle, but it was nice to catch up with you in London.

Roy Baladi, Jobs for Humanity 28:47
Thank you, Chris. So good to see you, man.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 28:49
Good stuff, hang out for a little bit. Don’t go anywhere. I’m gonna put you in the greenroom and Roy again, thank you so much for your time, such gratitude. appreciate it. Alright, so hanging out in there. I just want to share a couple of things really quickly. That we’ve got coming up in the future. Obviously, you can see this. This we’ve got wrapped up with we’ve got an Internal Mobility recruiting meeting that’s coming up for our members. We have a solutions spotlight with our dear friend Chris, Chris Foreman, who’s over an Appcast, obviously coming up November 3. If you’re in love, that’s right. The book club is back. You can check that out. We’re wrapping up the book with Indra Nooyi, My Life in Full, fantastic read. I think you can also get it on Audible. If you’re if you want to read it that way and subscribe to it that way you can do that. We’ve got a workshop coming up with Jason Laurisen, whom we’re a big fan of That’s November 10. And then up next on the podcast is Equity Equitable. And we’re super excited about that. We’ve got Robin Katherine coming up and that’ll be on November 15. If you are not already aware it’s CXR.works if you want to see what we’ve got ahead at CXR.work/events and if you want to catch more of these podcasts Show and see what’s ahead. I know this is going to shock you it CXR.works/podcast and until then we’ll see you next time folks hang in there see online.

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