Fast Company: Leveling the Playing Field

By Fastco Works

From the start, Silicon Valley’s diversity problem wasn’t just apparent to Stephanie Lampkin—it was personal.  After graduating from Stanford’s engineering program in 2006, she embarked on a career in tech and immediately realized that, as an African American, she was a rarity. It’s a distinction that has stubbornly remained over the last decade.

“I had already been working in tech for years when Jesse Jackson launched his push for diversity in Silicon Valley in late 2014,” says Lampkin. “His challenge made news, of course, but I remember walking around the SOMA neighborhood in San Francisco and in Palo Alto back then and realizing, I just don’t see any black or Latino people in tech jobs in any of these places. Something fishy is going on here.”

Despite widespread recruitment efforts, the industry has struggled to make real progress. Last spring, an Equal Opportunity Commission report found that 83 percent of executives in high tech were white. As for the entire tech sector, African Americans made up only 7 percent of the workforce; Hispanics represented 8 percent; and women 36 percent. According to the Project Diane report, a 2016 study on the state of black women in tech produced by digitalundivided, of more than 10,000 startups secured venture capital from 2012 to 2014, only 0.2 percent were founded by African-American women.

These numbers (along with various studies revealing bias for white job applicants over blacks despite duplicate resumes) highlight the problem that Lampkin now addresses head-on as the founder and CEO of Blendoor. It’s a blind recruiting app that counteracts the “unconscious bias” in hiring practices. By showing only a candidate’s qualifications—and hiding details such as their name, age, employment history, and criminal background—the service matches companies with candidates strictly on merit.


Lampkin’s own journey to tech entrepreneurship was an improbable and remarkable one. She was born on welfare to a single mom, who was homeless for a time while pregnant. Growing up in the poor southeast section of Washington D.C., Lampkin was fortunate to have a role model in an aunt with a computer science degree. Because of her, Lampkin was drawn to the promise of technology. “My earliest exposure to tech was through her,” Lampkin says, “and I was completely enthralled.”

By 13, she was learning to code. She took AP Computer Science in high school and earned a scholarship to Stanford. After graduation Lampkin landed a job at Microsoft. On the surface, it seemed that she’d made it. “I bought a house when I was 21, and spent more than five years at Microsoft,” says Lampkin. “I learned a lot, but I didn’t see a lot of opportunities to grow.”

So Lampkin went back to school. At MIT’s Sloan School of Management, she earned an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation. Despite her advanced degrees and work experience, she still faced barriers. Six months after receiving her MBA, she nearly landed a lead analytics position at a major tech company but was told they’d keep her resume on file for sales and marketing openings, instead.

By that point, she had not only worked at Microsoft, but also Lockheed-Martin and Deloitte, in software and technical-related roles. Yet here she was, still being told she didn’t have the tech credentials.

Lampkin was not only having a hard time breaking out of women-based stereotypes, but even when she was a finalist for jobs, she was losing out to white and Asian men. At one point, she’d discovered she was making 20 percent less than a male colleague in the same role despite having better performance metrics. Lampkin knew she wasn’t the only one experiencing these challenges. A 2015 report by Joint Venture found that men in Silicon Valley earned as much as 61 percent more than their female counterparts. The more doors that were slammed shut for her, Lampkin says, the more the bias “was difficult to ignore.”

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#FacesofFounders, a campaign by the Case FoundationBlackstone Charitable FoundationGoogle for Entrepreneurs, and UBS, in partnership with Fast Company, celebrates dynamic and diverse entrepreneurs. Learn more at


The Encore – AVIS: Give Yourself A Fighting Chance, Wear Your Seatbelt


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  6. Never drive a company vehicle in an unsafe, negligent or reckless manner
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Entrepreneur: How to Stop Unconscious Bias Before It Starts, Against the People You Hire

By Heather Huhman

Shortly after Jason Thibeault became a recruiter, he told me, he met with Terrell, a former employee of his, to catch up and go over Terrell’s resume, since Terrell was looking for a new job and wanted Jason’s opinion.

Jason, it turned out, was amazed by the resume’s high quality: Since the two men had worked together, Terrell had gone on to do great things in his career. However, one thing struck Jason as odd. At the top of the resume, Terrell had listed his name as “T. Andrew Smith.” “Should I start calling you ‘Andrew’ now?” Jason asked.

No, Terrell answered; he went by “Andrew” only on his resume. When Jason asked why, Terrell, a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man, responded with a simple question: “Have you ever met a white man named Terrell?”

That’s when Jason, now a partner at Moore eSSentials in Carol Stream, Illinois, realized that despite his stellar resume, Terrell wasn’t getting called for interviews because of his name’s racial connotations. It’s a story that painfully illustrates how unconscious bias can limit an organization’s ability to find great talent.

And if it’s a story that sets off any alarms about your organization, here are four ways to mitigate them before you make your next hire:

  1. Rethink job descriptions.

Job descriptions are the first screen job-seekers face when applying for a job. They read the listed responsibilities and get a sense of the company culture through the posting’s verbiage. Based off that information, they decide if they could be successful in the role.

But there may be subtle cues that can encourage or deter candidates from applying. For example, gendered words might imply the ideal candidate is male or female.

In 2016, ZipRecruiter looked at data gathered from the millions of job postings on its site. The research found that across industries, 70 percent of job descriptions contained gender-biased words. The neutral posts, meanwhile, received 42 percent more applicants, creating a bigger talent pool from which the companies posting them could draw.

Sounds good. But don’t think gendered words are all that easy to spot. “At 2U, we recently began using a software called Textio to evaluate our job postings before they’re advertised on our career page,” Nicole Thomsen, head of corporate recruiting at 2U, in Landover, Maryland, told me. “We saw that seemingly innocuous phrases we tended to use, as a fun and creative company — like ‘ninja’ or ‘rockstar’ — can actually be masculine or feminine trending.”

The lesson, then, is to use analytic tools to identify which words are keeping certain demographics from applying for your positions. Then remove and replace those words with neutral phrasing to open up your pool of potential applicants.

  1. Discuss possible stereotypes before interviewing.

Open discussion is a huge part of addressing unconscious bias. Talking about stereotypes can be awkward, but it brings possible prejudices to light before the hiring process even begins. If there’s a certain type of person all your team members imagine in the role, question why that is. Does a certain appearance actually equate with success in the role? Chances are, the answer is no.

Discussing that bias allows team members to adjust their idea of the perfect candidate. Otherwise, it’s likely that the candidate who “looks the part,” but is not actually the most qualified, will get the job.

“I previously worked for a large employer where the sales team was made up of nine white men who were all very clean cut, between six-foot-one and six-foot-three inches [tall], and had a certain ‘Captain America’ look to them,” said Steven Benson, founder and CEO of Badger Maps in San Francisco.

“The hiring decisions were being made by the VP of sales, who had the same look. Unconsciously, he probably thought that, ‘This is what salespeople should look like,’ but it looked more like he was picking a water polo team, not a sales team.”

Avoid a similar mistake at your company by educating the team about unconscious bias. There are free resources available through Grovo. The site’s microlearning lessons are designed to help hiring managers — and all employees — become more aware of how unconscious bias might influence their decisions.

  1. Take a look at the final pool of candidates.

Research published in April 2016 in the Harvard Business Review looked at three experiments designed to help participants learn about unconscious bias in the hiring process.In the experiments, more than 140 undergraduate students were asked to pick a final candidate to hire. All finalists had comparable credentials; the only difference was their race or gender.

In each experiment, participants chose one of the candidates from the majority. If the final three applicants consisted of two males and one female, participants hired a male candidate. If two candidates were black and one was white, they chose a black candidate.In other words, candidates who are different from an otherwise homogenous group of finalists stand little chance of getting hired, even if they are the most qualified.

Avoid this pitfall at your organization by looking at the final candidate pool and backing up any hiring decision with quantifiable data about the candidates. How? Tools like Unitive can help teams objectively evaluate applicants. Unitive scores each individual on their skills and performance during the interview process, so even if the best candidate is the minority in the final pool, data will show him or her as the clear leader.

  1. Review what was said post-interview.

Sometimes, in the moment, a hiring manager doesn’t realize his or her bias toward one candidate or another. What this person perceives as “making a connection” with a candidate is actually unfair bias.

“I observed an interview where two people had very similar backgrounds, but one was a woman and one was a man,” said Max Brown, founder of Silicon Beach Talent, in Los Angeles. “The interviewer asked both the same set of questions, but the depth of conversation before and after the main questions was completely different.

“One candidate was engaged in a discussion about whether he supported the football team for his alma mater. The other had a very polite, but much shorter and more superficial conversation about how her day was going.” Brown went on to point out that one of hiring managers’ most common forms of unconscious bias entails gravitating toward people who are similar to them. This causes a problem because managers underestimate their ability to prevent prejudice from impacting their decision.

So, approach the interview differently. Record each meeting, and revisit it as a team afterward. Focus not on what the candidate said, but rather the interviewer himself (or herself). This will bring to the surface any discrepancies in tone, questions asked or general friendliness.

 With this type of analysis, everyone, in the future, will be more aware of the nuanced ways they might be favoring a particular candidate — and stop that unconscious bias before it starts.

The Encore – Prudential: Helping To Protect The Future Of Your Business Part II

The Prudential Insurance Company of America and its affiliates offer a wide range of insurance products that can help your business continue successfully in the event of your death or disability. Insurance is a vitally important business tool that is often overlooked.

Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company, or a closely held corporation, Prudential can help. Purchasing life insurance for business needs may prove to be one of the most important decisions of your life.


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Independent: EY’s ‘blind CV’ Policy for All Trainee Applications Has Inspired Surge in Workforce Diversity

EY’s decision to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process has proved successful in diversifying the company’s workforce.

The global professional services firm, one of Britain’s biggest graduate recruiters, in 2015  announced that it was scrapping the requirement for applicants to have a minimum 2:1 degree pass at undergraduate level or a Ucas-point score of 300, which is equivalent to three B grades at A-level. It said that the move was designed to create opportunities for talented individuals “regardless of their background”.

It also introduced a blind CV policy at the time, to reduce any unconscious bias in the selection process.

After the policy was introduced last year, the number of recruits from state schools jumped by 10 percentage points to 49 per cent for graduates and to 59 per cent for school leavers, according to statistics published on Thursday.

The number of recruits who were the first in their family to go to university rose by 7 per cent. The firm also saw a 75 per cent increase in the number of applications to its student programs for a September 2016 start date.

The company, one of the world’s four biggest accountancy firms, revealed that 18 per cent of its 2016 UK graduate and school leaver intake would have been ineligible to apply before the policy was introduced.

EY received 37,000 student applications last year for around 1,600 graduate, school leaver and intern vacancies.Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent for the UK and Ireland, said the results “speak for themselves”.

“It was the right thing to do for EY, to broaden our talent pool and the diversity of our workforce, and at the same time create more opportunities for young people. We hope we have inspired others to do the same; driving social change,” Ms Stilwell said.

“Academic qualifications will always be vitally important but companies often want to ensure that the people they employ have strengths and skills they specifically require for their business,” Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said at the time when the policy was announced.  “We fully support any system which opens up opportunities for people regardless of background.”

Silicon Republic: How Do Companies Ensure Diversity in Their Workforce?

By Jenny Darmody

Diversity is probably the top quality jobseekers look for in a company, along with work-life balance. But how do top companies diversify their workforce?

It’s a serious fight for talent at the moment, so companies need to make sure they look attractive to candidates when recruiting.Sure, an appealing salary package and a fun company culture would be a good start, but the buzzword on everyone’s lips at the moment is diversity.

It’s all well and good for a company to say diversity is important to them, but the proof is in the people as much as the policies. So how do some of the top companies obtain and encourage a diverse workforce?

“Embracing diversity and inclusion is a powerful catalyst for success,” said Mairead McCaul, business unit director at MSD Human Health.

The pharmaceutical company has a number of initiatives to promote diversity, including the MSD Women’s Network. “We recently celebrated our inaugural Women in STEM conference to recognise the importance of diversity and women in leadership,” said McCaul.Risk management provider Aon has an inclusion strategy in place to keep their workforce varied.

“To ensure we are attracting a diverse range of talent, we have a number of sourcing strategies, working with community groups and focusing on different talent pools to ensure we are seen as an employer of choice,” said Katherine Conway, head of diversity, inclusion and community affairs at Aon.The company also has a number of business resource groups that focus on bringing together colleagues to help drive awareness of various areas of diversity.

One of the biggest issues that comes with a fully inclusive workforce is unconscious bias. PayPal tackles this with a training workshop.

“It’s an intensive and interactive two-day workshop that helps people identify and overcome both their conscious and unconscious biases,” said Maeve Dorman, head of global operations for PayPal EMEA. “We’ve received fantastic feedback from both men and women who undertook the sessions.”

PayPal also has a prayer room, free international phone booths and a dedicated LGBT network. The company regularly wins awards for its efforts at inclusion. Most recently, they were crowned ‘Diversity Champion 2016’ at the HR Champion Awards.

Storm Technology hosts a monthly ‘Culture Vulture’ day, where the team celebrates counties that employees are from. All of the employees are immersed in the culture of that particular country, from music to food.There is a huge amount of diversity needed in the workforce to create well-rounded teams and different ideas and insights. This includes everything from ethnicity and culture to sexual orientation, education and background. However, one of the first things that comes to mind is gender. When it comes to IT, science and finance in particular, having more women in the workplace is a necessary goal.

At Liberty IT, employees take part in an annual survey on diversity and inclusion. It also has cross-functional groups that touch base with employees for feedback on new policies. Outside of work, the company seeks out opportunities to support women in IT, including the sponsorship of a girls’ code club.

In the UK, Fidelity International has committed to gender equality by supporting a UK government initiative called ‘Women in Finance Charter’, which addresses gender imbalance in the UK financial industry. Across other aspects of diversity, Fidelity International has its own diversity and inclusion network, which has branches in its main global offices. The company also hosts events with guest speakers who talk about mental health, disability and LGBT.

PNC Wealth Management: How To Teach Your Kids the Value of Money

Talking to your children about money when they’re young can help them make good choices later. PNC’s Jennifer Dempsey Fox shares tips for how parents can teach valuable financial lessons to kids of all ages.

Whether your kids spend money like it’s burning a hole in their pocket or consistently save it for a rainy day, having frank conversations about how they earn, save and spend money can be crucial for their financial success later in life.

“As a parent, money is one of the hardest topics to discuss with your kids, but it’s also one of the most important,” said Jennifer Dempsey Fox, a mother of two teenagers and national managing director of wealth strategy for PNC Asset Management Group.

Few schools have formal courses dedicated to money management—and it shows. American teens scored below average on global financial literacy assessments, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. If not improved, this lack of knowledge could lead to financial problems in the future.

The solution? Experts agree that as a parent, talking to kids about money is a good start.

Teaching kids the basics of money when they’re young helps them develop a good foundation. Then, when they’re older, it becomes easier to have more nuanced discussions.

These conversations become particularly important when your kids receive money for holidays, birthdays or special occasions and must make decisions on how they will spend – or save – that money.

Let Cash be King

Saving money can be an abstract concept for some children under age five. However, most children at that age are learning about taking turns and being patient. You can maximize these life lessons by explaining that patience now can help them buy something they want later.

Every time your kids receive money, encourage them to set aside some to spend, some to save and some to share with others in need. Asking them to designate their money in this way helps them think about both their short-term and long-term goals.

It may help to keep their money in clear containers so your child can see it adding up (or dwindling). There also are digital tools to help your child visualize this, such as PNC’s “S” is for Savings® account. Your child can “fill” three jars (saving, spending, and sharing) and see images of coins and dollar bills in the jars.

Giving young children cash to use for small purchases can make a difference. When they have to hand over a dollar for a treat in the checkout line, it teaches them that money is more than just a number. Remind your child that a dollar spent on a treat now means they won’t have that dollar to spend on a toy they have been planning to buy later.

Teach with Tech

Teenagers typically can handle more planning when it comes to their money, so it’s not as imperative for them to pay strictly with cash. Fox recommends loading allowance or gift money on prepaid cards.

“Paying with plastic means teens have to keep track of their balance and educates them on the modern money system,” she said. Since prepaid cards have a set limit, teens learn to budget their money to make it last.

When teens want to buy something, they can check the balance on their card before making a decision. “This method has prevented a lot of conflict in our house,” Fox said. “I ask my son or daughter if they have enough money to cover the expense and the answer is simple from there.”

If your teen doesn’t already have one, open a checking account for/with them. Keep in mind you may need to be a co-signer on the account if they are a minor. Teach them to use online banking to track and evaluate how they spend their money and emphasize the value of setting aside savings.

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WPO would like to thank PNC Wealth Management for providing this week’s sponsor blog content