Breaking Racial Discrimination in Hiring For Tech Jobs

12 Apr

This one has been a long time coming. Discrimination(race, age, sex) is rampant in the Tech industries – especially in Silicon Valley.

Breaking up Silicon Valley’s white boy’s club, one interview at a time

‘Blind interviews’ force companies to consider applicants based on their merits, not their names or profiles. They’re showing promise in the tech industry.

Stephanie Lampkin, a petite black woman, was once told during a job interview that her background wasn’t “technical” enough for software engineering jobs. She was told this despite a software engineering degree from Stanford University and stints working for Microsoft and Deloitte.

“So I made an app,” she quipped while presenting at an inclusive innovation showcase at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last month.

Specifically, she created Blendoor, a platform that matches up companies and potential workers, Tinder-style, and scrubs the name and photo from a job candidate’s résumé. If employers who subscribe to the service like what they see otherwise, they can request more information or set up an interview. It’s geared at bolstering the chances of qualified minority candidates to break into homogeneous industries, inspired by numerous studies, like this one, showing that résumés with names like Jamal and Lakisha were far less likely to lead to in-person interviews than those with names like Emily or Greg.

Blendoor, which launched in beta at South by Southwest in March, and is being tested by the likes of Twitter, Google, and Airbnb, is part of a bumper crop of startups jockeying to be the go-to tool for making hiring more democratic.

They may tackle the problem in many different ways, but the operating principle is the same: Making structural tweaks to the screening process for job candidates is a more effective way of ensuring a diverse workforce. Placing the onus on even the most well-intentioned hiring managers to overcome their own ingrained biases or, even more likely, avoid falling back on already-established social connections to make a hire, is less so.

Whether or not an objective, skills-based hiring process can work for non-tech careers, or change the calculus for higher-level jobs that require more nebulous qualities like “leadership,” and “creativity” remains to be seen. But at the very least, supporters say, the approach goes a long way toward fixing the broken process that initially introduces employers to potential employees.

“I don’t know if we should get rid of them entirely, but résumés as a first-pass filter should be completely done away with,” Aline Lerner, creator of, says.

Virtually nonexistent two years ago, the market for startups that match companies with qualified candidates via a blind screening process is growing by the minute. GapJumpers, an emerging leader, compares its method to the “blind auditions” on the TV singing competition “The Voice.” A candidate completes a series of tasks related to a job and is given an anonymous scorecard, which serves as her first introduction to the hiring company. GapJumpers has matched candidates with tech, financial, and media firms and counts hiring managers from Google and Dolby among its users.

Ms. Lerner created her job-matching and interview prep platform,, after a few stints in recruitment for the tech industry.

“When I was hiring there was a strong preference for a very specific type of candidate,” she says. Too often, she saw worthy candidates overlooked because firms wanted hires “who went to the same five schools or worked for the same five companies.”…More Here

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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in The New Jim Crow


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