Recruiting with Diversity in Mind

2015-07-28_at_9.15_AM

I left my former company HubSpot and ended up across the street at a small startup called Drift. And I’ve found that, much to my surprise, recruiting for a large, publicly traded company is quite different from recruiting for a 10-person startup.

HubSpot has an amazing culture, world class facilities, money, and a remarkable engineering team working on a world class product.

Drift is a scrappy little startup, and we’re still in the earliest stages of building our team, establishing our culture, creating our products, and growing a thriving customer base. Because we’re just getting started, we have the freedom to try new things. And one of the first things we want to experiment with is establishing a recruiting process that yields a truly diverse team.

Elias Torres (now a Drift co-founder) and I spent nearly three years working on building out HubSpot’s engineering team. We went from 25 folks on the engineering team to more than 150 by the time we moved on. And one of the problems we frequently wrestled with while we were there was how to achieve true diversity while recruiting for an engineering team. Our approach was to tackle the problem from a pipeline perspective, which meant that we focused heavily on college recruiting. We set a goal to hire a co-op/intern class one year that was 50% women and 50% men, for a total of 22 engineers in all. We achieved that goal and ended up hiring almost 10 people from that class and 5 were women.

Here at Drift, we’ve realized that we have the opportunity to build the company with diversity in mind from the start. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but by making it a priority today, we hope avoid a lot of potholes later. Studies show that diverse teams deliver better results. And we want our teams and our results to be a big part of what attracts candidates to our company, so it makes sense to go after that goal. We need to make diversity one of our competitive advantages, just like any other compelling perk of the job.

What attracted many engineers to us at HubSpot was our philosophy of creating small teams with big autonomy, giving them interesting problems to solve, and budget to support them in pursuing their goals. We were able to land both big-company engineers and engineers who loved small startups because of this unique blend of the best of both worlds: small teams nestled within an established, stable company. By creating the kind of workplace we thought our prospective candidates would enjoy, we were able to attract more of those scrappy engineers we love.

So recruiting at Drift is a bit different, but the all same principles apply. Here we need people who are willing to take the risk of working on a small team within a small, unproven company. We work with a little bit less structure and fewer resources, creating an environment where everybody pitches in with all aspects of growing a startup from scratch. With all these different needs, we need all different types of minds. And we want a diverse team to help us do that, so we’re starting with diversity from day one.

As everybody knows, the first employees at any company are the most crucial hires — I especially noticed this at HubSpot, where so many of those crucial early hires are still in place and contributing strongly to the company’s growth and success. We here at Drift are on the hunt for our own crucial first hires. Maybe one of them is reading this blog post right now. Is it you? Check out Drift and our open roles

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