The Snowed in Airport Song; a Story of Inclusion

“As long as we live there is never enough singing.”

– Martin Luther

I recently traveled to Seattle for a speaking event. It was a good time, and I guess, from the feedback I was warmly received. I don’t overtly like the admiration or adulations that come from being in the public eye, but the adoration of a few friendly people was heartedly appreciated. The next day I was looking forward to returning home, writing, and seeing good friends that I had recently met in my new home in Portland. This was, inevitably, not going to be the way I had planned it.

I awoke to a very brisk morning and rain, if you are unfamiliar with the northwest of the US rain is an eventual inevitability that lasts for months. People are used to it and travel is rarely affected since, like a well-oiled machine the airports know what to do and how to handle, almost, the traffic that ensues.

However, this was not going to be one of those times. The airport received, instead of rain, light snow. Now, if you are wondering what is going on here and why would this be a big deal it is. The FAA, which regulates air travel in the US, has strict de-icing policies, so planes don’t go down in flames after taking off. Good strategy. Nevertheless, it does not soothe the pain of sitting in the airport, on a day you took off, go to waste. Anger and angst are always clear, and the overworked and stressed gate attendant dealing with people with definite opinions that are never needed or wanted, for that matter, in any situation. People, the gate agents take orders from the airport, believe me, they want you out of the airport even more than you do.

I decided to write since I had free time and it was too early to drink a beer, and frankly, I like writing. I started to do some people watching in between paragraphs, and then something peculiar happened; there was music in the air. Not the pumped in elevator music of a mellowed out Led Zeppelin song but an acoustic guitar with multiple strings playing. I packed away my computer and went out to find where these musicians were. At first, I thought that the music was maybe something the airport was promoting, (I know that there are musicians that play in the main entrance to Portland’s airport.) What I came to find out was going to be a great deal more epic.

When I out found where the music was coming from I had to smile because it was people of all types just playing a jam session to pass the time and entertain weary passengers. I later found out that some musicians had seen each other’s guitars and decided to play music while waiting out the storm and delays doing what musicians do. I loved it, a free concert of unknown artists just doing their thing. Oh, and they were amazing, they played well and unselfishly allowed each person to have their moment. The symbiosis was terrific; it was as though the music became a language all to its self and they were speaking with the guitars.

Here is the best part, they were all unable to communicate with language because they were all from somewhere else; Japan, Mexico, France, Spain, and of course the United States. I so wanted to join in, but I don’t play guitar, so I just listened, I passed on the thought of asking if someone would be willing to teach me a few cords so I could be a small part of the magic. My bias against myself thought they would just laugh at me and say no way.

It then got me thinking about inclusion in the workplace and how even though we talk a big game about diversity and inclusion and doing better are we? Are we really? As recruiters or sourcers are we passing by the person named Jose OR Patel OR Sharina OR Perna not knowing the bias? Are you checking yourself at the door based on previous preference?

I am here to say that yes, you are in fact doing this, I read the posts people. Sometimes you go too far with the joke, the kidding, and the poking. It will leak into your psyche quietly, ominously, into your subconscious and then you are doing something you don’t know you are doing. Your brain is living in the past not the future but unwittingly controlling it.

I am not trying to give Dice a plug here, but I guess I am going to. A while back they changed how you saw candidates when doing an OFCCP search. Brilliant in my opinion as there is no inherent bias presented with a name, just candidate number one, candidate number two, and candidate number three. You are forced to look at the skill set and resume before making a choice.

There is also a new search tool for LinkedIn that sits on top of the platform called Seekout.io that is going to make some waves in the aggregator space. What sets it apart is that you can limit your search for diverse candidates based on their race or gender as well as skill set location, etc. You can also export the results to an excel sheet to track them.

ROIKOI is another. Using ROIKOI, recruiters can hide personal identifiers for new candidates. This helps recruiters consciously reduce hidden biases at the earliest stage of the hiring process. Entelo is another. Workable also provided a list of products on their blog:

Article Continues Below

 

  • Blendoor – a mobile job matching app that hides candidate names and photos to circumvent unconscious bias in the workplace and improve diversity recruiting in tech companies
  • GapJumpers – a blind auditioning tool that allows companies to hire based on performance instead of resume keywords and pre-conceived assumptions
  • Interviewing.io – an anonymous technical interviewing platform designed to fix Silicon Valley’s ‘fundamentally broken‘ talent funnel by minimizing unconscious biases
  • Paradigm – a data-driven company that draws on behavioral science research to design effective diversity and inclusion strategies
  • Project Include – an open community working toward providing meaningful diversity and inclusion solutions for tech companies
  • Textio – a language analysis platform that uncovers gendered phrases and spots biases, allowing companies to write more gender-neutral job descriptions that appeal to broader audiences
  • Unbias.io – a Google Chrome extension that removes faces and names from LinkedIn profiles to reduce the effects of unconscious bias in recruiting
  • Unitive – a hiring platform that helps companies create job postings and structure job interviews to focus on skills instead of stereotypes

 

When I got home that afternoon, I was grateful for the music and looked up where to start guitar lessons. This old man is going to try at least rewire my brain that I can play and stop my own bias against myself and be part of the solution and not the problem. #truestory

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing in the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliance. Currently, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions for Engage Talent. He has experience with both third-party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland area. Now, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage.

Topics