Improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can seem overwhelming, especially within male-dominated industries like IT. Tech recruiting company SingleSprout has addressed these challenges head-on, creating a DEI Lead role that’s enabled the company to hone in on specific areas of opportunity for DEI in recruiting.
SingleSprout has partnered with hundreds of companies resulting in placement ofd thousands of engineers. often with a focus on ensuring a diverse pipeline in the tech and legal industries. Its DEI Leads are committed to identifying areas for improvement, creating actionable plans, and implementing appropriate changes both internally at SingleSprout and externally for their candidates, clients, and partners.
For more, we spoke to SingleSprout’s Manager of Account Management and DEI Lead, Sophie Stewart-Bloch, to understand how SingleSprout set up their DEI committee, as well as the factors she believes have been key to its successful DEI strategies.
Appointing DEI Leads Gives DEI Initiatives Focus
When SingleSprout first held a DEI committee meeting, anyone from the company could attend, and there weren’t leads. It proved popular; Stewart-Bloch estimates that half the company turned up. “It was great,” she says, “but you know, there were too many cooks in the kitchen, so not as much got done.”
These challenges led the SingleSprout to nominate and appoint three DEI Leads to a committee that could drive the company’s DEI initiatives and ensure that progress was happening. The next time the committee met, they were able to focus on concrete changes that would have a wide impact. Soon, they had a plan and a timeline.
In a company where so many people are interested in DEI, selecting just three DEI Leads could have proven challenging. Instead, SingleSprout opted to allow employees to nominate potential DEI Leads as part of a more democratic approach that allowed everyone to feel involved in the initiative.
Stewart-Bloch points to her passion for DEI and her willingness to learn as important in fulfilling the DEI Lead role. “This whole experience has shown me to be super humble. We’re all learning here. I wouldn’t say I’m a expert in DEI. I would say I’m passionate about it, I care, but I’m not always going to get everything right,” she says, adding that it’s about “learning and seeing how we can shape and improve things to get them to a better, and more inclusive place, than they were before.”
How DEI Leads Can Identify and Tackle Issues
From the beginning, SingleSprout’s three-person committee has treated DEI as a priority. The company also partnered with DEI consulting firm, The Rise Journey, which helped to organize the playbook for the committee, and thus identify the areas the DEI Leads should tackle first.
Each DEI Lead then took on a specific topic that was relevant to them. For instance, one DEI Lead is a Lead Recruiter. “They’re doing a survey to find out a little bit more about the candidates we’ve placed. Were they from a different background? What does that mean? How have they found it? Why did they choose to accept one offer over another… things like that,” Stewart-Bloch explains.
Another DEI Lead, a PrincipalAccount Manager, is focused on outreach and support. “They are looking at planning different volunteer events where we can support and help underrepresented communities with job-interviewing skills and other relevant areas.
Finally, Stewart-Bloch is reviewing how SingleSprout advertises new roles and interviews potential hires, with the objective of removing bias and making the process “as equitable as possible.” Want to talk about retention?
Together, this means the three DEI Leads are addressing the entire recruitment process, from outreach through to hiring decisions. Improving DEI in an area as expansive and important as hiring could be daunting. However, breaking it down into three sections and appointing a specific DEI Lead to oversee each one has made it more manageable for SingleSprout.
Key to advancing their work, the committee took the time to create a detailed plan for each of the three areas the DEI Leads were assigned. “We have an Excel spreadsheet, which is very much set up like project management,” Stewart-Bloch says. “What is the status? Who are the stakeholders? What is the due date? When is that going to be pushed back by?”
While the due dates are not set in stone, treating DEI as a priority has helped the company to implement some significant changes in a short period of time. “We’ve already revised all of our job descriptions, I’ve done de-bias training, and we’ve worked through the interview processes and identified potential potholes,” Stewart-Bloch says.
They also reached out for support from their network. To help tackle those potential potholes, Stewart-Bloch scheduled a call with an HR consultant who specializes in DEI. And, of course, the DEI committee asked other team members for help when needed.
Company-Wide Improvement with Company-Wide Support
SingleSprout’s DEI initiatives might be led by the DEI committee, but it’s a program the whole company feels involved with. Senior leadership gave the committee its initial impetus. Half of the company attended the first committee meeting. Today, even though there are just three people on the DEI committee, their work is aided by the rest of the company.
Stewart-Bloch believes support from leadership has been essential to the committee’s success. “DEI has to be top-down,” she stresses. “I don’t think we would be able to do this if our Co-Founders and Director of People weren’t so hands-on.”
Even before the DEI Leads were appointed, Co-Founder and Co-CEO Natan Fisher had begun working with The Rise Journey to explore ways to improve DEI. Stewart-Bloch says that having senior leadership involved meant people could see “the value” of DEI and what it “brings to the table.” The entire company knew it was a priority.
Organization-wide support has also helped the DEI Leads to take action while balancing their existing workload. “We have groups of people who are voluntarily helping us with this, which is really great as an organization,” says Stewart-Bloch. “So we meet [with the volunteers] every other week, just for like 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes a little bit more, depending on that. Then we meet as a DEI committee once a month.”
Launching a DEI Initiative
When it comes to DEI, it isn’t always obvious where to begin. For SingleSprout, knowing what to focus on has proven key. Appointing staff members as DEI Leads and supporting them with access to consultants meant that the organization could identify specific areas for improvement. From this, the DEI Leads, with the help of the rest of the company, have been able to review data and systems, outline objectives, and create a plan of action.
Taken together, these steps have led to concrete improvements in SingleSprout’s hiring and recruiting process: expanding outreach initiatives, rewriting job descriptions, reworking the interview process, and reviewing not only hiring decisions, but also the experiences of new hires.
Though it won’t happen overnight, these and other changes will make SingleSprout a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place to work, as well as help their clients in the space as well.