27 comments

  • Jared KrauseJared Krause, 1 year ago

    Is there any data available for job applicants, people interviewed, or potential candidates? Or is this strictly Versett employees? I'd be interested in the pool of people Versett has to choose from.

    Design-wise, this report is awesome and I actually read most of it. Great illustration and simplicity.

    11 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Thank you so much Jared! It means a lot to me that you like the design as well as the content.

      Oh let me tell you, if I could get these analytics and publish them similarly I would (and I tried- our hiring platform has recorded all applicants over the past 3 years).

      However the way that our hiring platform is set up, we don't have this demographic information- which is actually really great, because it removes a lot of potential for bias and discrimination when we're contacting applicants.

      6 points
  • Andrew Hersh, 1 year ago

    So, as a straight white male, I shouldn't even bother checking out the job openings, because I am expressly excluded from your firm's goals and future, regardless of my skills or experience.

    Cool.

    10 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Hello Andrew! You are welcome to check our job openings regardless of the social groups you are in. The purpose of this report is to be transparent about where we stand (as Steven has also commented, we do have a large percentage of straight, White, married men) and making it clear that we are striving for equality in the workplace. This report is specifically speaking to people of marginalized backgrounds that are typically excluded from company’s goals and future, especially in the tech field.

      As the head of Versett’s D&I initiative, I’m sorry that you feel this way. I’d love to hear more about how this report made you feel excluded if you are open to continuing the conversation.

      9 points
      • Andrew Hersh, 1 year ago

        Certainly.

        The key to much of this is that you have cleverly (unconsciously?) changed the word "biological" to "social". None of the factors I mentioned are social, and none of them should have any bearing whatsoever on whether you have been "successful" at anything at all worth achieving in a place of business.

        You have inequality in your office? Unequal representation is not necessarily inequality. If you have an unequal representation of genders or races, or anything else, and that is a result of a bias in your hiring practice, then that bias should be snuffed out. If, however, you have an unequal representation of genders or races, or anything else, and that is a result of simply hiring the most qualified applicants or positions, then there is no bias, and no changes are needed.

        If, on the other hand, you have inequality in your office because people who have been hired based purely on their qualifications are being discriminated against because of these differences, then the individuals in management should be snuffed out.

        This report didn't make me "feel" excluded. It expressly says that I AM TO BE excluded by the fact that there is no mention of the treatment of individuals, and only the mention of the PRESENCE of individuals and the implication that too many of My Kind is a thing that needs to be “fixed.”

        11 points
        • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

          Thank you for your quick reply Andrew! We’re glad you’re as passionate about this as we are.

          My choice of the word social was conscious as race, sexual orientation, and gender are social constructs. However, I realize now that you did choose the word “male” to describe yourself, which is indeed a biological category.; you are welcome to check our job openings regardless of the social or biological groups you are in.

          While we are working to combat bias in our hiring practices, we are also conscious that systematic discrimination and oppression has created unequal opportunities for people of marginalized backgrounds, and that diversity makes for better, more creative, more profitable teams.

          I am sorry that you think our report excludes you because we do not mention the treatment of individuals; we don’t think that anyone or any social group needs to be “fixed”. Do you have any suggestions on how you would have liked this to be approached in our report?

          9 points
          • Andrew Hersh, 1 year ago

            Race can be determined by a blood test. It is biological.

            So can gender. It is also biological.

            Surely you aren’t trying to insinuate that differences in sexual orientation are imaginary (social constructs)…? Regardless, I’m not really sure why the sexuality part of your report exists at all, unless people are simply practicing their sexuality in an open format in your offices (in which case, I’m REALLY not going to be checking out the openings……… erm…), and if not, how/why would you even know their orientation unless you made it a point to ask, specifically so you could discriminate on that basis moving forward?

            I’m not sure why you would need to “combat bias in (y)our hiring practices” as some sort of seemingly longterm fight. If you’ve got any kind of tiered interview process, then all of your interviewers would need to be racially motivated (or ‘whatever’ motivated) for there to be an actual problem of discrimination within your company.

            I would like to see any examples you may have of “systematic oppression” anywhere in the United States that is specific to gender, race, or sexual preference. I have a suspicion that what you will be able to produce will be related to nothing more than geography and will then be intimated as being racial via explanations that are themselves unironically racist.

            “and that diversity makes for better, more creative, more profitable teams” How? Why? If your argument is, on one hand, people are identical regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference, then how could it possibly be beneficial to enforce diversity in these areas? If, on the other hand, your argument is that people are NOT identical regardless of these things, then wouldn’t it logically follow that certain combinations of those things may produce individuals who are better suited to different tasks?

            In short, when reviewing prospects for a design firm, I can’t see how discriminating on race, gender, or sexual preference (either positively or negatively) can do anything other than work against the goal of building the best design firm you can.

            If your issue is with opportunity in areas LEADING UP to an individual applying for a job at a design firm, then shouldn’t you have opened a school, rather than a design firm?

            6 points
    • Ryan Hicks, 1 year ago

      Andrew all of your replies resonate with my exact thoughts as well. Thanks for speaking up. Couldn't have said it better nor would I have the time to debate that.

      4 points
    • Spencer JSpencer J, 1 year ago

      I'm surprised (though I suppose I shouldn't be) that anyone would consider Andrew's comment high-five worthy or "amicable"

      It's pretty strident, and it seems like Andrew is eager to take offense, imagine he's being excluded, and reactively judge the report before he's even seriously engaged with it.

      DesignerNews notes in its comment placeholder text to "Be nice, or else" but it's clear that Andrew is escaping any consequences for his obviously "not nice" comment.

      A small minority of highly-vocal white supremacists almost always tries to dominate discussions of race and gender online using toxic tactics like this, and it's incredibly charitable of Sarah to take the time to patiently explain the report.

      Sarah, please know that the vast majority of people understand that diversity and inclusion are important, and see comments like Andrew's as blatant attempts to reinforce inequality and exclude women and people of color from the workplace, and from positions of influence in society.

      13 points
    • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, 1 year ago

      I think a better way to frame this debate is that more diversity = good. So If you have 9 straight white males in your company and you want your tenth hire to not be a straight white male, it's not because there's anything wrong intrinsically with being one; it's because you want to increase your workplace's diversity.

      0 points
  • Chris Gallello, 1 year ago

    Hey Doug and Sarah - thank you so much for sharing this. I'd imagine it's hard to open up like this for the first time, but it's so helpful for the whole community. I'm curious - what kind of changes do you plan to make in your talent pipeline?

    9 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Hello Chris! Thank you so much for checking out our diversity report- it means a lot that you reached out to say this and that you find this helpful! It is still a learning experience for us and we’re trying really hard to be advocates for equality (which at least for me has meant doing a lot more research than I originally expected and challenging a lot of my own personal thoughts and behaviors).

      If I’m being completely honest, this is still something that is actively in the works. I’m currently researching how to best pose interview questions to appeal to and get the best replies out of a variety of applicants regardless of background. The topic for discussion in our company slack today was this article and the accompanying video featuring Yewande Ige: https://www.fastcompany.com/40507281/ask-this-interview-question-to-hire-a-more-inclusive-workforce

      When it comes to making our talent pipeline more diverse, the D&I team still has a ways to go, and as it stands now I don’t feel like I’m knowledgeable enough or have enough of a direction to speak to an exact solution, and I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions, resources, or information you could point us to- even if it’s just a personal anecdote. We have offices in Toronto and Calgary in Canada and New York City in the US, if that information helps at all!

      9 points
      • Chris Gallello, 1 year ago

        Fair enough! I don't have professional experience with working on improving D&I, but a few things I'd recommend doing some research on: * Be sure to diversify where your recruiters are looking. This probably means getting out into communities and circles where you aren't looking right now. * Think about how to optimize for diversity of economic background as well. * For any open position, be sure to interview at least one woman or person of color before making a decision. * Think about if your interview process would put any groups of people at an unfair advantage, and change those processes. Then be sure to give everyone the same process, and the same selection criteria.

        4 points
        • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

          Thank you so much! I've copy and pasted this into my current Quip doc so I can discuss these points with my team during our Monday meeting. :)

          3 points
  • Andrew C, 1 year ago

    The design of this report is pretty terrific. Easy to read, and the images accent the content without overtaking it. However, I've read a few of these types of reports and while the commitment to diversity is great, I think these pieces are lacking in the results department.

    I myself, as someone in design management that hires a lot, would love to get more granular in to tactics and their effectiveness. Orgs generally find resistance to a lot of tactics proposed to increase their diversity numbers (such as "don't require algorithm testing" and "lets use hiring quotas!"). They face resistance because the changes seem to dismantle a system that lands quality engineers with repeatable processes (something every Chief level person wants to see). To be honest, a lot of the research seems dubious or hyper-specific to where an organization is from. Sharing these methods would help the industry adapt quicker.

    Anyway, great start! Would love to read a follow up in a few months on progress.

    4 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Hello Andrew!

      Thank you so much for reading the report!

      These are a lot of good points and along the lines of what I’ve read in articles about this topic. I’d love to hear a little more detail on the resistance you’ve seen.

      This quarter our main goal is refining our hiring and interviewing process. As we want to be transparent about the whole process, we’ll be aiming to publish a Medium post sometime next quarter about our research and findings. If you haven’t checked it out already, I’ve written a detailed post on how we set our Diversity targets. We thought it was important to be transparent about this because we found that other sources explaining how to set diversity targets were a little vague as to why you should be doing certain things. My team is hoping to publish a few Medium posts this year on other D&I topics as well, and would love if you have any other D&I topics you would want to read about!

      0 points
  • Steven CavinsSteven Cavins, 1 year ago

    [removed]

    4 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Thanks for checking out the report Steven! As the head of Versett’s D&I initiative, I’m honored that you took time out of your day to check out what my team and I have worked hard to publish over the past few months. That being said, we are definitely aware that we need to put in a lot more hard work in order to have a company that reflects the demographic composition of the countries in which we do business. If you or any of your friends are looking for jobs, feel free to check out our job postings!

      5 points
  • Marcel van Werkhoven, 1 year ago

    First, I really like the design of the page and illustrations but despite your mission the company doesn't seem very diverse based on the numbers?

    If I count all the interns I'm at a 50-50 male/female ratio at my company. We've also never not hired someone because of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. As demographics and educational trends gravitate more women towards this field in my location I'm not really surprised that I'm seeing more females join the workforce as I did 5/7 years ago when I started my career.

    Also I think too many companies trying to pursue this mostly are focused on trying to get a more diverse company because it is good for PR. Being inclusive is not something you can start with hiring more diverse people. You really need to open your company in more ways like get business from more diverse clients as well.

    It feels like many companies are putting out a press release these days basically saying: "We've ended discrimination so you can join us now!". While at the same time working for the same Fortune 500 companies.

    3 points
    • Andrew Hersh, 1 year ago

      "Also I think too many companies trying to pursue this mostly are focused on trying to get a more diverse company because it is good for PR."

      Bingo.

      5 points
    • Sarah Armstrong, 1 year ago

      Thank you so much!

      We are aware that our company lacks diversity. Gender parity is one of our core diversity goals over the next few years. However, knowing that a majority of our employees work out of Canada, we’re not doing too poorly in terms of representation when compared to the demographic composition of the regions in which we operate, and we’re very proud of that. That being said, we’re definitely not perfect, and there’s always ways to improve- especially in our leadership team.

      It’s really amazing that your company has achieved a 50/50 ratio! We hope that at Versett we will be joining you there soon. Do you have any tips for getting more women in the hiring pipeline?

      I also want to point out that we have not nor do we intend to hire anyone solely based on a social group they belong to- we more want to be aware of and transparent about our current diversity statistics. In the same way we want other companies to be transparent about their diversity statistics, publishing these also lets the community hold us accountable.

      Your points are totally valid. We realize that discrimination won’t be ended with a diversity post. Diversity and inclusivity is something that our whole team has been passionate about for a while. As a fairly new hire, I made D&I my top priority after joining the team. I had come from a company that had a diversity and inclusivity initiative that was solely concerned with PR and not their employees. I suffered a lot of sexual harassment and discrimination due to my being a woman and also LGBTQIA+; I wouldn’t have spearheaded this initiative at a company I didn’t believe in.

      5 points