Strategies for Inclusively and Equitably Building a Diverse TeamBlind Recruitment at Third Sector

Long before Third Sector formally committed to exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion through a critical examination of our culture, norms, and client-facing approaches, we recognized the importance of building a diverse team. We know that diverse teams perform better, and we also value the unique perspectives that surface from a group of individuals with varying lived experiences.

As is still typical recruitment practice, our hiring process originally required the submission of a resume at the onset of the application process. However, in an effort to build a more diverse team, we sought a way to minimize inherent biases in the hiring process - especially those that develop from knowledge of a candidate’s racial, educational, and professional backgrounds. This notion gave rise to Third Sector’s “blind” hiring process in 2016, whereby we stopped collecting resumes until the later stages of the hiring process. Instead, at least the first two rounds of interviewing are entirely competency- and skills-based through the use of case exercises and are conducted over the phone, further limiting our knowledge of a candidate’s racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We focus on each candidate’s demonstrated fit to preclude unconscious biases that emerge from knowledge of a candidate’s educational background, ethnicity, gender, or other attributes.

Blind hiring goes beyond delaying submission of the resume. Our application process has been thoughtfully adjusted to minimize potential biases and to support a focus on skills and competencies. As part of the initial application, we do not ask for a traditional cover letter either; we only ask for relevant, de-identified work experience from candidates. Furthermore, our latest recruitment cycle also saw the introduction of de-identifying a candidate's name during the application review process. The application process proceeds as follows:

  1. Applications are submitted to Rework (by Koya Leadership Partners), our third party partner, and identified by letter rather than by name
  2. They are then given to Third Sector for review and decisions are made on inviting candidates to the interview stage
  3. Decisions are communicated to ReWork, at which time Third Sector receives the names and contact information of advancing candidates

As is typical of any growing firm, our internal processes are constantly evolving; our recruitment and hiring processes are no exception. As we deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion we continue to explore how our talent acquisition structures can be adjusted. We understand that there is no finish line - our DEI work is never “done.” In March of this year, a committee dedicated to proposing such adjustments was assembled. The group consists of participants of various roles: Associates to Directors and both internal and client-facing staff. Our mandate is clear: Evaluate our current recruitment and hiring processes, particularly with a DEI lens, and propose recommendations on how to build a more diverse pipeline of candidates and to ensure an inclusive and equitable evaluation process.

It has become apparent to our committee that building a more diverse pipeline of candidates should be our next most immediate priority. By expanding our pool of candidates, while continuing to refine our blind hiring process, we can ensure that the diversity of our team, and our collective perspectives, continues to grow. We are particularly committed to expanding our pipeline of candidates through forging new community partnerships with groups that serve traditionally marginalized populations. The goal is to not only get a wide variety of candidates through the door, but to also evaluate them in a way that highlights their skill sets and does not unfairly advantage people of specific backgrounds.

Third Sector’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion goes far beyond the recruitment and hiring process. We know that we must apply a DEI lens across all of our business functions, internal and external. However, our experience analyzing and adjusting recruitment in particular has been instrumental in expanding our understanding of how principles of DEI can be incorporated and implemented in our processes. As a firm, recruitment has been the first process that we have critically examined as a team to improve specifically from a DEI standpoint. We will reflect on the lessons learned to continue to iterate on our procedures and policies firm-wide to ensure that principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are fostered.

To read more about Third Sector’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion read our full affirmation of these values.