Equitable Hiring Practices at iF

A recent case study

Just over a year ago, iF launched our Equitable Hiring process. This came out of an internal working group aimed to ensure:

  1. Normalize interviewing and hiring processes as much as possible for all
  2. Create stopgaps to bias check candidate pools, descriptive language, and hiring team decisions
  3. Clarify outlier situations (e.g. long-term contractors-to-hires; in-org candidates)

Our recent recruitment for the new iF President position was a great opportunity to apply our process.

The below is a message from Jackie St. Louis, iF’s Director of Cultural Awareness and Integration, and a member of the President hiring committee:

"From the onset our priority was to ensure that the process was fair, inclusive, competitive, equitable and transparent. We began by outlining our internal process, including interviewers, an internal advisory group to observe the process and alert the team to potential biases real time as well as shared evaluation criteria. There was an overwhelming response to the job posting with applicants from across the country. The team developed a process to screen applicants for fit, experience and suitability. 8 folks were initially screened. Following the first round of telephone screenings, we conducted a thorough review to determine the makeup of the group and more specifically, where there was sufficient representation of BIPOC and women. Upon this screening, it was determined that we had fallen somewhat short of our intended goal and as such the team went back to the original applicants and re-evaluated, specifically for women and BIPOC candidates. Following this second round of screenings, the team recommended an additional 4 persons for screenings – one African American male, one Asian Male, one woman of Latin descent, a Caucasian woman, and a man of Middle Eastern descent. Five people moved on to in-person (virtual interviews) across 3 panels and 3 interview rounds.

The process itself was very competitive with all of the candidates bringing similar and diverse strengths and backgrounds. Members of iF leadership who conducted the earlier screenings and in-person interviews were adamant about the inclusion of iFsters from all levels of the company in the decision-making process. With feedback from members of the organization, we developed a rubric for scoring the applicants based on their experience, expertise, fit with the company and performance during the interviews. Four candidates emerged from the interviews as having the requisite skills and competencies to effectively perform in the role of president, but there was not yet a clear consensus as to who should be selected.

The team designed two follow-up assignments – a writing assignment and scenario exercise to further evaluate the candidates. The exercises were observed by iFsters who had the opportunity to evaluate them. Upon conclusion of the scheduled activities, the team met with Michael to provide feedback and recommendations. At this juncture, there were three candidates being considered with one having been eliminated (an African American male). The final three were a Caucasian female, Asian male, and Caucasian male – Rich Crandall. From the vetting and evaluation that had been done, we were clear that each one of these candidates had the ability to serve in the role of President and would bring their own unique approach to iF. We were left with the question of whether we wanted value add or value fit, eventually we settled on value add being important but not at the expense of changing the culture that so many have worked to create – a place of mutual positive regard, collaboration, and imaginative work. It was clear to us that Rich was the best fit for the organization, but the question of his experience was one that lingered throughout. The other two candidates had significantly more experience, one on a global scale. That said we questioned the fit of the most experienced candidate and could not be certain that his approach would not be disruptive to the culture. The other candidate presented the question of “how deliberate does iF want to be about its growth?” Michael was clear that iF should grow, but that it should not be done at the expense of the people or culture.

Toward the conclusion of our discussion, and perhaps even at the start, it was clear that Rich Crandall was the right person for this job. To a person, Rich was spoken of as someone that is kind, considerate, respectful, and brilliant. The questions that we have about Rich can in no way be attributed to some shortcoming on his part as he has always risen to the occasion and expressed excitement to take on this challenge.

My final words were “I am making a decision not for me, but for all of iF, and Rich is the best person for this job.” Words cannot begin to express how proud I am to have been part of such an inclusive process. It was not without its challenges, but in doing equity work, this is to be expected.”

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