Charity Majors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio, ex-Parse, Facebook, Linden Lab; cowrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤 Mar. 07, 2019 5 min read

Lots of rando and unconnected conversations tagging me today around the subject of recruiting and hiring. I'm gonna take that as a reminder from the universe to say something I keep forgetting to say.

SO. Having preambled...

🌱Is engineering recruiting a neverending challenge at $(yourco) -- are you eternally behind on hiring goals?

🌿Do you worry over the caliber of engs you see, are you concerned about reaching the 'good ones'?

🍃Is it hard to stand out from the mass of tech co's trying to hire?

☘️Do you genuinely care about diversity, despite your dreadful demographics... but fuck, man, there aren't enough qualified dudes to hire, and women never seem to apply, so am I supposed to do, stop hiring and wait for them to appear? *trails off into helpless silence, feels bad*

🌴Do you sometimes wish your team was a bit more passionate about their jobs? Widget-shipping may not be the MOST glamorous industry, but plenty of boring widget companies seem to have passionate teams. How? Why not yours?

I could go on, but you get the point. Hiring is hard, it's a seekers' market and while this too shall pass, it isn't likely to soon.

What if I told you you could flip the script? That you could soon be batting away more world-class applicants than you could possibly hire?

(i went to get a tea there because i do like tea and i LOVE a good cliffhanger. then i got distracted by chocolate. where was i... right!)

It's actually stupid simple. If you want hiring to be easy, and the "right" people to apply or want to join you, all you need to do is--

Put women in charge.

Visibly, recognizably, high up in charge. Not of peripheral functions that engineers don't deeply grok, like HR or legal.

Give authority over your company, your product, your engineering org to women. That's it. The rest just happens.

You have to execute on the basics, of course -- healthy work environment, capable management, flexibility in schedule and location, etc etc. (All of which seem to happen more consistently when women are in charge.)

But folks are fucking hungry to work for women these days.

It kind of is almost that simple. For now, at least, while it's a rarity.

*Just by having women in charge*, you will stand out (for your bravery i guess 🙄). You will get attention, you will get chances to tell your story, and you will get a wave of applicants of all genders.

I cannot count the number of times I've heard this from an engineer..

"I had two or three offers, and they were all compelling. Hard to choose... So I went with the woman.

"I am just *that sick* of working for an unbroken string of white dude exec teams for my entire career."

I'm not even talking about honeycomb folks. (They know I hate to hear that kind of thing, they wouldn't tell me if so ☺️). I'm talking about engineers all over the industry.

Candidates are starting to really scrutinize your leadership teams, folks. It is losing you talent.

And it's losing you the talent you care most about, fastest.
The senior folks, team leads, thoughtful folks and experienced engineers.. the ones newer devs pattern themselves after.

(It's also losing you women and other less represented folks, but you...knew that, I presume.)

Oh yeah, about that. There are loads of women engineers, they're just unevenly distributed. 😉 You know this, right?

Lots of engineering teams out there with 30-60% women, and lots of teams with 0% (or one poor traumatized critter). Not that many in between.

Either your workplace is a place where women feel like normal human beings, or a place where they get their gender shoved in their face every fucking day and are slowly driven mad.

Job hunting is a crap shoot, and other women are a strong positive heuristic. Esp women leaders.

If you're going "great point charity, but there aren't many women executives out there, let alone technical execs, and I can't afford them / they're all taken. see? i have found this fatal flaw in your otherwise annoyingly compelling argument"

i hear that. you're right.

You're gonna have to look a little harder, pay a little more, pitch a little stronger, create a little more compelling narrative for why this is great for her career...

Or you can start growing some women execs/leaders of your own. 🤓🌴👠

I don't know if you know this, but literally everyone was not an exec at some point. Literally everyone had mentors, opportunities, lucky breaks, big assignments they weren't actually equipped to handle but they fucking took it in the teeth and they stepped up.

There is always some element of risk. But nobody takes enough risks on women. Especially women who are also POC, omg.

A Modest Proposal: when surveying leadership potential, just 2x-4x your estimate for each woman. Ask them to step up. See what happens.

I have this theory that your companies are out there bursting at the seams with under-developed leadership talent, under-capitalized potential, and women who are chafing at the bit for a shot.

If you want women leaders steering your company, you can and will find some. Period.

Top talent is flocking to companies with women leaders thanks to what it says about compatible values and competitive strength, but that's not all...

The toxic assholes you DON'T want are also more likely to show their colors early on, before they can do much harm.

Recruiting isn't that complicated. You build a team where people respect each other and are proud to work together, then you talk about it, and encourage your team to talk too.

You don't have to work hard to be better at it than most of the trash heaps out there, sadly.

But if you're struggling with it, for whatever reason, consider my advice seriously. Put women in power.

It isn't just the right thing to do morally speaking. It's also a huge competitive advantage in the war for talent. Everybody wins, except the assholes. 🌴

P.S. via DMs: if you wanna complain about too few women leaders you can hire, first ask yourself how many leaders or proto-leaders you may be rudely shutting down, interrupting, talking over, ignoring or diminishing RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

well said ✊

progress is measured in ego deaths, turns out.


You can follow @mipsytipsy.



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