How LinkedIn Is Training Its Recruiters to Champion Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

January 19, 2021

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Moving diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs) efforts forward is a top priority for many talent professionals this year, including the team at LinkedIn. In fact, championing DIBs is one of the 12 functional and foundational competencies outlined in the LinkedIn talent acquisition team’s Book of Recruiter Competencies, known as the BoRC for short.

“We built this to really accomplish three things,” says Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s VP of global talent acquisition. “First, to help us articulate what excellence means in the role of a recruiter. Second, to establish a foundation for how we hire, train, and manage our recruiter performance. Third, to provide a tool for managers to leverage so they can best support and coach their team members.”

In the latest episode of Talent on Tap, Brendan caught up with Loni Olazaba, director of inclusion recruiting at LinkedIn, to discuss how the BoRC defines championing DIBs — and what the team is doing to instill and reinforce this competency:

To inspire and support your own DIBs efforts, here’s how LinkedIn’s recruiting leaders are breaking down and training for this core competency. 

To become a true champion of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, recruiters must be advocates and influencers who lead by example

Before recruiters can work toward developing any given competency, they need to have a clear idea of what it looks like in practice. To help set the bar at the right level, the BoRC outlines a few key behaviors to follow. 

This includes openly, organically, and authentically advocating for DIBs and influencing the business to focus on it in an intentional way. Since influencing and advising is the first competency outlined in the BoRC, recruiters will already have a strong foundation to work from as they begin building this particular skill set. 

“[Recruiters with this competency] also drive the right behaviors,” Loni says, “leading with and maintaining an inclusive mindset consistently in all interactions. In essence, leading by example.”

As an instance of how this competency can enhance the recruiting process, Loni points to a recruiter who was working with an executive to hire a people manager. While the new hire would be overseeing a team responsible for advertising and sales, an advertising or sales background wasn’t necessary to thrive in the role — it was the leadership and management skills that mattered most. 

To help the executive think beyond the typical yet potentially narrow idea of what someone in this role should have on their resume, the recruiter worked closely with them to outline the essential leadership competencies that the new hire would need. They then worked together to develop a list of interview questions built around those competencies. 

By taking this approach, the recruiter was able to identify exceptional talent that might otherwise have been screened out long before the interview stage. As it turns out, the candidates that proved best suited to the role were not from an advertising or sales background at all. 

“This process eliminated the potential for the focus being on someone who is common ground or who looks and acts like individuals we have seen before,” Loni says. “The recruiter’s ability to influence was really demonstrated in this situation — and ultimately, it impacted the outcome in a positive way.”

LinkedIn uses a mix of self-assessment, self-paced content, and group practice sessions to help its recruiters become DIBs champions

To ensure that the BoRC is truly actionable, rather than just aspirational, each competency is accompanied by a variety of resources and trainings. The road to becoming a true DIBs advocate starts with a self-assessment that allows recruiters to rate themselves on this competency and get a sense of where they are on their journey.

“They also have a follow-up conversation with their manager,” Loni says. “This is about understanding where their strengths are and what they do well, and then where are the areas of opportunity and where they can grow?”

After taking this initial step, recruiters can then work through a self-paced Learning Playlist that combines LinkedIn Learning content with custom trainings and tools. Here are some of the resources the playlist includes to help foster the key behaviors that define this competency:

Behavior: Advocates for DIBs

  1. Unconscious Bias (LinkedIn Learning course)

  2. Confronting Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences (LinkedIn Learning course)

  3. Confronting Racism, with Robin DiAngelo (LinkedIn Learning course)

  4. What Is Privilege? (As/Is)

  5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Brene Brown Discussion Guides (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  6. Implicit Association Test (Project Implicit)

  7. Recruiting Veterans (LinkedIn Learning course)

  8. Pixar’s New Short Film Examines Workplace Diversity with Humor, Insight, and a Lively Ball of Yarn (LinkedIn Talent Blog)

Behavior: Influences the business around DIBs

  1. Diversity Recruiting (LinkedIn Learning course)

  2. Glossary of Terms — Transgender (GLAAD)

  3. Skills for Inclusive Conversations: Six steps to inclusive conversations (LinkedIn Learning course)

  4. Leadership in Tech: Building diverse teams (LinkedIn Learning course)

  5. LinkedIn Talent Insights (LinkedIn Talent Solution)

Behavior: Drives the right behavior 

  1. Cultivating Cultural Competence and Inclusion (LinkedIn Learning course)

As recruiters work through this content at their own pace, they can also participate in live sessions playfully dubbed “So You Think You Can Recruit.” Each session devotes time to recounting key concepts from the learning materials, before jumping into example scenarios and opportunities for one-on-one role play.  

“Self-paced content is great,” Loni says, “but where the learning starts to get sticky is when you really put it into action.”

As an example of the work done in these sessions, “So You Think You Can Recruit” helps recruiters to thoughtfully engage in LinkedIn’s Diverse Slates program. Inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, this program is designed to diversify hiring by ensuring that a diverse slate of candidates is considered for every role LinkedIn hires for.

“We leverage our ‘So You Think You Can Recruit’ sessions to equip our recruiters with the fundamental understanding of why this is important,” Loni explains, “and the operational way of how to have conversations with hiring managers who are also at different stages in their [DIBs] journey.”

Remember that championing DIBs is an ongoing journey, not a destination — and stay tuned for more competencies

In future episodes of Talent on Tap, Brendan and fellow members of the LinkedIn talent acquisition team will explore other competencies outlined in the BoRC. In the meantime, if your team is working toward becoming advocates for diversity, inclusion, and belonging, Loni has one final piece of wisdom to share. 

“I do think it’s important for us all to remember that there isn’t an end point,” she says. “It’s an ongoing movement — a journey that we’re all on — and we’re in it together.”

Talent on Tap is a video series in which Brendan Browne breaks down the hottest topics and biggest challenges in the talent industry. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space.

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