Why ESG is important?
Many of the Founders and CEOs we work with would like to incorporate ESG principles, but aren’t sure where to start. There is often a belief that ESG is for large and/ or public companies and something that can be addressed further down the line. This isn’t the case; ESG should be a consideration from day one. Investors increasingly look to deploy capital at companies that incorporate ESG in order to satisfy their own investment requirements and, by the time a company has grown and has embedded supply chains, team structures and processes, it can be hard to unwind early decisions.
We know that there’s a great deal of noise around the topic of ESG that is distracting and confusing. We want to cut through this and help you identify the quick wins so you can start to take small, actionable steps that will put you in good stead as your company grows. Of course, there’s no one size fits all, and we suggest you pick the one or two actions that best align with your business and goals.
Strong talent unlocks growth
One of the earliest and biggest priorities for you as an early-stage Founder and/ or CEO will likely be attracting high quality talent. Running a bias-free recruitment process is an impactful way in which you can incorporate ESG in a way that benefits the company.
You’ll undoubtedly be aware of the reported benefits of hiring diversely: how it increases creativity, innovation, and the ability to serve varying customer needs by bringing together people of different backgrounds, and with different experiences. Increasingly, the best candidates are choosing to work for companies with diverse teams. If you’re starting out on your hiring journey, you’ll simply want to make sure that you attract the best quality talent as quickly as you can. Ensuring you recruit in a way that is free of bias adds very little time, and no cost to your recruitment process, but maximises your chances of selecting the best candidate for the role, as well as signalling to customers, potential employees and investors that you take your social responsibilities seriously.
The way we see it, the recruitment process comprises three key parts:
- Creating a diverse talent pipeline
- Writing job descriptions that encourage diversity
- Structure a fair and inclusive interview process
Practical ways to get started
1. Sourcing the strongest talent
Founders often make their first hires through their immediate network. As the company grows you’ll need to look further afield to find the best candidate for the role. Doing this in a way that embraces diversity means tapping into a wide pool of candidates, particularly at a time when competition for talent is high. The most effective way to do this is to make use of existing resources that provide direct access: job boards, agencies, social media and employee referral programmes will expand your reach.
Tip: Work with partners who have access to diverse candidates. We have worked with, and would recommend, Colorintech, Applied and The Diversity Partnership. Please reach out to us if you would like an introduction.
More examples can be found in this tool for recruiting diverse talent.
2. Writing job descriptions that widen the net
How you write your job descriptions determines the kinds of candidates you attract.
Tip: Ditch unnecessary ‘must-haves’, such as qualifications that are not strictly relevant to the role and avoid the assumption that someone can only be qualified if they have done the role before.
Instead, highlight the skills and/ or outcomes you are looking for, such as demonstrable experience in making complex enterprise sales or leading teams.
3. Structuring a clear interview process
Now that you’ve attracted some high quality potential candidates, you’ll want to ensure you pick the best one for the job. This is where your interview process comes in. This is also the stage where, particularly if there is more than one person doing the interviewing, individual (confirmation) bias can slip in, assumptions can be made and expectations can differ.
Tip: Set a clear interview process:
1) Be clear on what each stage of the interview process involves. At least one of the stages should include an objective assessment (such as an aptitude test or work simulation) to measure skill and competence and reduce bias based on factors such as age, race or gender;
2) Ensure all interviewers are aligned on the role requirements and reflect these in their questioning of the candidate;
3) Assess candidates based on the same criteria.
Use this guide to create a structured interview
In order to come up with your assessment criteria, you’ll need to be clear on what it is you’re looking for in the candidate based on the job requirements (for example, the qualifications, skills and experience needed). This requires a bit more thinking upfront, but it’s worth it; we see start-ups skip this, which can result in an unclear interview process, both for the candidate and those doing the interviewing, and the (expensive) risk of hiring the ‘wrong’ person.
Tip: To work out the criteria you’re looking for, you can:
a) Meet with people who are in similar roles at other start-ups you admire and identify the skills and attributes they have;
b) Meet a handful of potential candidates to clarify your thinking, but make sure you (and the candidate) don’t confuse this with the start of the formal interview process.
A few last thoughts
We hope that this has given you some straightforward and actionable tips to help you incorporate ESG into your ways of working, and in such a way that it will help you land top quality talent. Please feel free to share this with your wider network. We’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback on what you found useful, and on where you would like further support either on this topic or on other areas. Please reach out to Kat.
Further links and resources you may find helpful:
- Building an Employee Referral Programme
- Writing an Inclusive Job Description
- How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions