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LinkedIn: A Lesson in Why Diversity Efforts Can’t Be Siloed

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Wish you could hire clones of your best rock-star programmers? Joelle Emerson, Silicon Valley's new go-to person for applying science to diversity efforts, explains why that kind of thinking is keeping your org from being as effective as it could be.

Two things I learned from this article are to scrub our language of biases and not hire copies of existing employees.

Part of what companies should hope to accomplish by having dedicated staff focused on diversity and inclusion is a positive impact on their products. This week, LinkedIn launched a new tool aimed at helping companies identify “rockstar” employees, and hire “copies” of their current workforce. For anyone who knows anything about diversity and inclusion, this language is anathema. When the word rockstar, for example, appears in a job description, women are less likely to apply. As the CEO of Gainsight Nick Mehta explained to me, the word “perpetuates the thinking that some people are just inherently superior to others.”

Perhaps worse than the term rockstar is the encouragement of companies to hire “copies” of current employees. At Paradigm, when we work with companies we actively encourage them to avoid hiring “copies” of their current employees. We push them to move away from saying things like “we need to hire another so-and-so,” and to recognize that creating a great company is about building the best teams, not just hiring the best individuals. As a wealth of research has shown, the strongest teams are made up of people who are different from one another.

I don't know.  In startups, if you have someone who is a rockstar and accomplishing what the company needs to succeed or at least get to the next stage, then throwing good money after good results is a good strategy.   If that means copying existing stars--as long as it doesn't end in a power struggle--then it's a good option.  I agree about teams though.  A lot of companies don't rightsize the position they are hiring for and try to get too much bang for the buck, thus shooting themselves in their own foot. 

I agree that the strongest teams are diverse. 

Copying existing stars does often create power struggles. Better to find complementary teammates.

And I don't like the word rockstar either. i wouldn't want to discourage good candidates from applying because they were repelled by that word. 

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