Rethinking our hiring process | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Rethinking our hiring process

Greeting DEI eePRO group members,

Today, I am reaching to share some lessons learned and gather more ideas about how to apply a lens of equity and inclusion to hiring staff. We at the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico have had some healthy discussions the last couple of months to rethink our hiring process, especially as we have undertaken hiring our second staff position of Program Manager.

Here is what we have learned thus far:

1) Respectable salaries: Before even considering hiring a second staff position, we took a long hard look around our nonprofit community to determine how to set a salary that is competitive for our area. Since we were confident that we did not have enough funding to support a full-time position (I am also not full-time as Executive Director by design), we created a Program Manger position that is part-time at a competitive hourly rate. I look forward to continuing the conversation of how all of us can work towards designing jobs that have fair pay in the nonprofit sector so that our jobs are not open to only those with privilege or to expect people to work in poverty conditions.

2) Publish salary info: Please publish salary information with job announcements. As we were digging through job announcements, it was shocking the number of positions that did not list any salary info. I look forward to the day when we stop this out-of-date practice that wastes time and resources. Let folks know what you can pay, please.

3) Job Announcement Wording: Think about how and what you are saying in your job announcement. Since we really wanted to attract a diversity of perspectives to our job, we tried to think through what we were saying in the announcement itself. We handed off the job announcement as a draft to get feedback from perspectives outside of our own and listened to that feedback. Also, we wanted to include D,E,I language in the announcement and I am very appreciative of Traci Price who helped us with including the following language as a responsibility of the job:
- Demonstrate a commitment to working with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds and experiences
- Ability to apply a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion to support New Mexico’s EE community

So, our next step is interviews. What should we be thinking about in terms of D,E,I in the interview process? What should we be asking? What should we be considering in how we approach interviews and how we speak to candidates? What have you learned about rethinking your hiring process?

Thank you,
Eileen Everett

Hi Eileen-

Thanks for posting your insights and experience and tapping into this eePro Group. I do so hope others will chime in with their observations or learned experiences. Here are my thoughts below...

I'm always in favor of respectable salaries!:) You struck it on the head of the nail regarding respectable salaries translates into all folks who can earn a meaningful wage while doing environmental work, not only those from more affluent backgrounds who can "sacrifice a living wage for the greater cause." A part-time position, however, may mean your organization may have to be open to hiring a senior or a student with the skill set or capacity building network you are searching for. Or, instead of hiring a part-time staff member, you could use such funding to hire a consultant for a limited term who specializes in inclusion efforts within your state to get more bang for your buck initially.

Publishing salary info for any profession is a great way to go. Here in CA, the state legislature drafted several like-minded bill requiring salary ranges to be posted on all job announcements, another prohibiting potential employers from seeking candidate past salary levels, and another prohibiting salary gender discrimination. We have yet to see if the governor will sign or veto these bills.

Lastly, job announcement wording is so important, as you stress. It's great to hear that you got feedback representing diverse perspectives. I assume you have capacity building and inclusion priorities as part of your organizational strategy moving forward with this new staff position, so getting feedback from representative stakeholders who could be working with this future individual would be key. Shopping this draft job position around with these stakeholder groups for feedback can not only validate the job description language used, it can validate with these stakeholders need for the staff position and your organization's upcoming inclusion initiative, as well as inform you of:

1. Talented and qualified candidates within these stakeholder groups who could fill the position, or...

2. Identify like-minded, capacity building folks who could support the efforts of the person who is eventually hired.

3. Help in the broadcast your job announcement within these professional and community networks when your job posting goes live.

It seems your organization is doing its due diligence in executing an intentional effort to provide inclusive programming and recruit a pool of diverse job candidates to implement this vision. Although this may be a new realm for your organization, you do not have to go into the job recruitment and interview process blind. It's okay to scout out the talent from other non-profits, tap into community groups,
poke around other statewide associations, or ask the local council members or state legislative reps who the community influencers are who doing good capacity building work that you think align with organization's direction. Then reach out to these folks to describe your vision. I'm sure the questions generated from the dialogue by both parties will create a wonderful and interesting slate of questions for your formal interview process!...if not actually identify the ideal candidate you'd like to hire before you conduct the official interviews!:)

Good luck with your efforts and it'd be great to hear back from you about your results!

Would the same apply to individuals with disabilities? As an educator with an invisible disability, I wonder what kind of accommodations are available for those with more visible ones?

Some suggestions for D,E,I in the interview process:
- ensure your interview panel members are showcasing diversity/equity/inclusion. if not, how could you use a stakeholder to be a part of the panel to ensure DEI principles are maintained?
-carefully consider the dreams and aspirations of the indigenous/native people that the new staff member will be working with/for/on their customary homeland
-ask specific D,E,I questions, and develop a rubric on how to score responses that has itself been developed with D,E,I community members
-consider interviewees being able to bring in support people to the interview. For example, culturally some people may feel uncomfortable talking expansively about their achievements, and in such a case a support person could be used to highlight some of the achievements.
-giving people at the beginning of an interview the time to greet the interview panel members and viceversa. Check with interviewees before the meeting if there are specific protocols that they may want to be observed eg for religious/cultural/disability reasons. And help the interviewee prepare for the interview by being really clear on the process the interview will take, and why that process is being used. eg sometimes there are very different expectations if someone is asked to attend an informal interview over a coffee.
-Be generous in offering a de-brief to non-successful candidates after the interview so that people can learn from the process.

Hopefully these tips may be useful. Good luck with the process.

Thank you all for your very thoughtful and helpful comments on this Maine we are also thinking about more equitable hiring practice and have many of our EE organizations asking us (the affiliate) for guidance. I will direct them to this thread!

Hello! Thank you so much for sharing insight on some best practices. I am curious if anyone works for or knows of organizations/institutions that have adopted specific policy/set target numbers for diversity in hiring and recruitment? For example, setting a timeline for hiring to achieve demographic representation that matches state or national numbers? (40% faculty and students of color by 2025, etc.) Making 'increase diversity' efforts more concrete with action-oriented goals seems critical, especially when trying to create metrics for tracking progress and set-backs. Tracking promotion and retention numbers would also be important in demonstrating whether an organization is really as 'inclusive' as its White employees assume it to be.

Great questions, Maeve! I recently came across the following links to resources about racial equity organizational assessment tools and am still wading through this info: Being such a small organization (two staff members), we do not set staff goals, but have been measuring our Board diversity over time in relation to the demographics of New Mexico. I'd love to hear if others are measuring recruitment/retention rates.

P.S. I realize I never updated from last year's hiring process post. Overall, we did widen our circle in terms of the candidates we attracted for our job posting with the lessons learned shared in the original post. Over the last year, our organization has been investing in the long-term work at an individual and organizational level in authentic transformation. Through focusing on organizational culture, addressing power dynamics and shared leadership, and being more transparent with our efforts in this space, we are continually learning and shifting our efforts. The new relationships and deepening of relationships as a result of these efforts has been priceless and I look forward to continuing to learn with and from all of you.

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to this discussion group, but I really appreciate the posts. I'm interested in this discussion from an educational perspective. I am currently teaching a course on Inclusive Leadership in the fields of outdoor and adventure education for undergraduate students. We have completed a number of site visits to outdoor programs who are focusing on inclusion, equity, and diversity. At one of the programs we visited, we discussed how hiring practices are being shifted to include many of the practices you discussed above. This can lead to more role models for non-gender conforming folks, students of color, and women in an industry that has been historically White and male-dominated.

Firstly, Hi Cecil, I wish I could have taken your class this semester!

@Eileen Everett, thank you for starting this discussion!

While I have not been on the hiring committee for a bigger organization, I have been a part of the discussion about the need to hire diverse employees and leading staff for a small non-profit in the Bay Area during a board meeting. I am writing from the perspective of someone of color who often reads job descriptions as a job seeker.
I agree that language and wording is of utmost importance when writing the job description. When posting the job description on job search engines and sites, do note that people of color might be more apt to apply to jobs sent to them from someone they associate themselves with, such as email chains/mailing lists from organizations I have worked with before or influential members of groups I have attended meetings for.

To reach a culturally diverse and younger demographic, I strongly believe that social media and networking now plays an important role. I personally look at indeed but would be more likely to apply to a word of mouth job description or jobs posted in interest groups, such as the “Environmental Educators of Color” Facebook page.
As far as how to approach interviews: I like it best when companies check in or introduce the panel of interviewers, assuming there is a panel, because it can lead to a connection to the staff members that may lead me to feel more comfortable as an interviewee, and hopefully later, an employee.

An example of this is when I interviewed at a Parks Conservancy once, there was a panel that didn’t look or speak like I speak, that had different norms and expectations and questions for me that I didn’t feel was related to the position description as much as their own expectations of who I would be. The conversation went south, not that I knew it at the time, because I used a word that to one of the interviewers was a trigger word, but to me had not ever been inappropriate in any educational or other setting. I didn’t get the job, and I had no idea why, until I contacted the head of the organization and asked for a debrief of the interview, what went well and what didn’t and what I could do differently if I chose to apply again. I felt out of place during the interview, and I question if I would have continued to feel out of tune with the culture of the organization moving forward, had I gotten hired, or if I would have gotten more comfortable overtime?

I agree with Megan Somerville that it is important to offer the opportunity of a debrief to interviewees to not only improve the interviewees chances for another interview but also the hiring companies hiring practices. These practices can make sure that future interviewees feel more comfortable and create open and inclusive discussions this person’s culture, making them more likely to stay on, if they do get hired.