At Sans Serif, we want to add to our culture—not have someone fit into our culture

In 2022, our management team took inclusive hiring training with ReadySet as part of our DEI Initiative. We did this because—like a lot of small agencies—we don’t have the support of an HR department. We tend to hire the moment we need someone and it’s rarely a planned process. We move quickly and we often take referrals from people we know to find candidates—which can result in more homogenous pools according to research. We needed to build out a formal hiring process and we wanted that process to be equitable and inclusive.

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Here are some of the key takeaways from our training with ReadySet:

Focusing on authentic versus performative action

​​When considering implementing any DEI initiative, it’s important to consider authenticity. Historical narratives about diversity hiring usually centered around hiring a person that is visibly diverse or “checking a box.” Instead, we had to shift our focus to more authentically and holistically embedding inclusion throughout our hiring infrastructure.  

The goal is to bring in people with diverse lived experiences and viewpoints to our current team. Instead of focusing narrowly on surface-level efforts, this must be a holistic practice; it’s about considering inclusivity at each step of the hiring process. This includes evolving our hiring systems to mitigate bias, as well as examining existing patterns and mindsets. This holistic approach means eliminating barriers to bringing in people with those diverse lived experiences.

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Signaling our values in job postings

Job postings are a great place to start when it comes to communicating DEI investment to potential candidates. Within the job description we included a DEI statement in which we defined diversity and our values, and spoke about our inclusive culture to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to DEI as a firm.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion:

We know good design is informed by a diversity of perspectives and lived experiences. Whether we’re designing apps, rolling out a campaign, performing a rebrand, or anything else, what we create has a stronger user experience and enables a more equitable society when created by a diverse team of creatives and project managers.

We also know the field of design, like many fields, is unfortunately lacking in diverse voices. We hope to amplify the voices of Black and brown, indigenous, queer, disabled, and other under-represented and underinvested groups in the field of design.

As a result, we are committed to checking our job descriptions for inclusive language using online tools to check for potential bias or barriers in our job posting language.

If you identify with any of these, we encourage you to apply. Your voice and perspective is crucial.

Building partnerships to widen the net

The talent is out there! We worked to expand our candidate pipeline by looking for specific organizations, associations, and affinity groups that support historically underrepresented populations. LinkedIn is not the only platform and we learned how important it is for us to connect with a diverse array of communities and organizations. We’re continuing to build partnerships with these organizations with a focus on sustainability for the long-term.

Focus on candidate experience

We also learned how to create an inclusive candidate experience. This can include providing your pronouns to signal inclusion. It’s also important to standardize the process for equity and to ensure a consistent candidate experience. We implemented standardized interview questions to make sure all candidates were evaluated equitably.

It’s remarkable to sense that the company values my perspective, even before any direct dialogue.

Looking ahead

This is a long-term process for our agency and we understand that real change takes time for measurable impact and success. As a small business we don’t hire often, but we do bring in quite a few freelancers, so our next step is to apply the key learnings to our interview and onboarding process for freelancers.

We’re very happy with our new process; we received very positive feedback from candidates and we love how our team and its culture are growing.

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