Best of: How can behavioral science create more equity in hiring?

January 3, 2023

In this episode of Here to Help, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams speaks to Rachel Rosenberg, a behavioral scientist who is passionate about designing products and services for social impact. Rachel joined Indeed as the first product-focused behavioral scientist at Indeed, and her focus is on helping people find meaningful work — and employers find the best diverse talent to grow their businesses.

Chris and Rachel cover everything from behavioral economics and job search to challenging unconscious bias in recruitment.

- Hello and welcome everyone. I am Chris Hyams CEO of Indeed and welcome to the next episode of "Here To Help." Today is November 1st, we are on day 608 of global work from home our mission at Indeed is to help people get jobs, this is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us up at night and what powers that mission is our people. "Here To Help" first started as a look at how Indeed has been navigating the impact of COVID-19 but through these weekly conversations it evolved into a look at how people's experiences and stories inspire them to want to help others. My guest today works tirelessly to help Indeed better understand the why behind the life-changing decisions that job seekers and employers make every day on Indeed and how we at Indeed can better support them. Rachel Rosenberg is a behavioral scientist at Indeed. In fact, our first product focused behavioral scientist. Rachel, thank you so much for joining me today.

- Hey Chris, great to be here.

- Let's start where are these conversations always start with a check-in, how are you doing today right now?

- Well I really appreciate that Chris. You know, I'm doing really well. It's been a hard 18 months plus for the world and I've been really fortunate so recently I've just been feeling really grateful honestly.

- That's great well thank you for joining me today let's let's dive in and start by talking a little bit about your job at Indeed. What does a behavioral scientist do at a place like Indeed and how do you help people get jobs?

- Yeah absolutely so let's start with the high level like you said, I'm Indeed's first product focused behavioral scientist which means that I'm tasked with growing the behavioral science practice at Indeed and that means practicing rigorous research prototyping and testing and I do that in close collaboration with Product with Design with Research and with Engineering and we have a mighty team of two behavioral scientists right now and really our focus is on going from problem definition all the way through running A/B tests to figure out what hypothesis we have about human behavior and whether or not they're true and how that might first help job seekers find meaningful employment but also to support employers when finding a diverse set of talent to meet their hiring goals and then of course grow their businesses.

- So let's back up for a second. I'd imagine that there are some behavioral scientists out there listening but most of the audience probably is not behavioral scientists, so how would you explain what behavioral science is and how would you define it?

- Yeah absolutely, so for those less familiar with the term behavioral science, behavioral science is the intersection between psychology and economics. So economics gives us these traditional models of human behavior that say when people approach a decision they look at the costs they look at the benefits they weigh those against each other and they make some hyper rational decision that maximizes their utility and if we were to do that that means that we would go to the gym every morning we eat healthy fruits and vegetables at every meal we would go to bed on time we would read our read to our kids every single night of the week and the reality is, is that that's simply just not how we behave and the truth is, is that features of our context to the environments that we put ourselves in often have a really out sized influence on our behavior and so we would hope that we'd have enough self control to avoid that large pile of maple doughnuts when we go apple picking this season but the truth is, is that maybe we'll have one or two or three in my case. And we talk about there being two systems of behavior, so system one thinking which is that automatic sort of autopilot behavior that we navigate with our day to day and that works really well for us most of the time right? So you're walking down the street and you see a tree, you see a dog, you categorize those things as trees and dogs and you react in the way that's useful for you in that moment maybe do the sort of automatic hello to whoever it is that's walking by. System two on the other hand is our slow, more deliberative process for thinking and often when making decisions like about what benefits plan for example, that you want to enroll in, or what school you want to choose for your child as they're entering kindergarten, sometimes we want to engage in more system two thinking which means we do really weigh the cost and benefits and choose carefully and slowly. So I could give a quick example from my own life of this, I early in the pandemic was during lunchtime often kind of stressed and so maybe going meeting to meeting virtual meeting to virtual meeting and I'd have maybe three or five minutes in order to grab lunch and so I found myself going in to the refrigerator looking at it and saying, I guess a couple of scoops of almond butter and a handful of chocolate chips and maybe a banana and I'm a vegetarian so to me it's really important to eat healthy and also to eat consciously and that well might've met my craving in the moment isn't going to give me sustained energy for the rest of the day and certainly isn't going to get me my nutrients that I need for day-to-day so I've done some behavioral science on myself and Sunday nights after going to the farmer's market in the day I cook some healthy vegetables and grains I put them in four containers for the week and then I let myself cheat on Friday and choose whatever meal I want. So that means that my present self that's hasty and needing a quick choice and operating in system one can just grab that lunch quickly eat it and it tastes good and it's good for me and then of course on Friday I give myself a little bit of slack right

- That is fascinating. You know just the old line about the cobbler's children go without shoes and I wonder how many behavioral scientists actually act and, I know I have friends who are doctors who have terrible personal health habits so I'd imagine that exists out in the wild quite a bit. So I'd love to hear a little bit about how you got in to this field I mean it sounds fascinating but many people don't even know that this field exists so how did you get into research and economics and studying civilization and things like that?

- Sure, so I'm originally from Tucson, Arizona and if you're not familiar with Tucson, it's about 90 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona, the capital and also about 60 miles north of the border with Mexico so that's Nogales specifically and Tucson is in its essence a border town so it sits in that sort of liminal space between Mexico and the United States and that brings all sorts of amazing things. It means we have amazing food a really cool culture lots of different types of celebrations and we have lots of American Indian reservations in the area too so we have this amazing amalgamy of of different cultures but also living in such close proximity to the border made me hyper aware of the difference in economic prospects that people that happened to be born on one side have that are different from those on the other side and it really challenged me to think, what is it about the economic and political systems that we've designed that create this disparity between both prospects for economic prosperity and safety and so I really brought that curiosity to my studies and my undergraduate career at Stanford University where I focused on economics and international relations but what's interesting about this is even though I was surrounded by amazing people and presented with all sorts of frameworks we already talked about how traditional economic model tends to fall short and so there were already emerging places where that was eminently clear and for me one of those was with filing the FAFSA which is the form you have to fill out for federal aid. So I don't know if you're familiar with this now it's all digital but back in the day it was on paper and this was a long form this is the kind of form that takes you hours and hours and hours and it requires importantly a hard conversation with your parents about your finances and their economic situation and so it can be kind of it can be pretty burdensome to go through that process and you have to do it every year in order to maintain federal aid and so among we constantly were procrastinating this putting it off not spending the time to do it but if you think about that from an economic perspective here's five, six hours of work that results in tens of thousands of dollars down the road right and so you're getting paid like $10,000 an hour to do this form if you think about it that way but still people fail to meet the deadline and I luckily always met the deadline but there are people who didn't and it turns out this isn't just an issue at Stanford where maybe the economic costs of school are pretty salient but it's also a big issue across the country and it turns out there's about 2 million people every year that don't file their free application for student aid that's what FAFSA stands for and in doing so they leave over $2 billion in federal funding on the table and so this, from a sort of traditional economic model perspective that makes zero sense and so that made me start to question well how could we challenge those models with a new way of thinking?

- Yeah, it is fascinating to think about that and you might have an opinion and there might be a, actually a way that behavioral scientists think about this but to me it's either that we make an error when we assume that people think rationally or maybe that our understanding of the word rational is where the fault is but well I guess I'd love to hear a little bit about so you were drawn to this and you studied it when you were actually studying behavioral science what was it that sunk sort of its teeth into you that got you to figure out, ah, this is where I want to spend the next decades of my life.

- Yeah exactly, so went to do my graduate work at Tufts and while I was there started to study the reintegration of former combatants into the workforce in Colombia so let me set the stage here because that's a lot of words that don't mean a whole lot when you put them together but essentially in 2014, I became really fascinated with the prospect of voluntary putting down of arms to reintegrate into society that was happening among non-state armed groups in Columbia and Columbia was at this beautiful moment in history because they were about to sign a peace agreement with the FARC, which had been one of the longest conflicts in the history of internal conflict and displaced people and so there was a lot of excitement about what might happen but you know, having thought about behavioral science and my graduate work I anticipated well, just pure economics incentives and the setting might not go very far for supporting people once they got into the formal workforce and I mean a lot of times people were coming from a communist or socialist sort of setup and then entering a capitalist environment so really huge change and there was an ah-ha moment for me which was, I was interviewing people who were entering the workforce and they were taking jobs in the shoe industry, so sitting in a big factory making shoes can be laborious, it can be dangerous, it's very hierarchical in nature and there were two things that really stood out to me the first was that because these people were associated with the reintegration program, they carried a social stigma in the workforce that made it really hard to show up to work everyday just breaks my heart to think about here's somebody who's trying to make things right but it's really hard for a community that for a long time has faced violence from these groups to accept that person back into society and so they face direct stereotype threat and stigmatization in that environment and so that was de-motivating for them to show up to work and then also you're a female reintegrant and you're looking at your economic prospects and you're showing up to the shoe industry every day but you don't have the same psychological safety that was there, whether or not it was good safety in the environment that you did in the non-state armed group and so a lot of especially women who felt like they had more protections both in terms of economic security and real physical safety were returning to the informal sector after spending some time in the formal sector so for me I was like okay, this is it you know, we need to figure out if we're going to be successful with these types of programs and policies to give people the opportunity for economic prosperity that they frankly deserve, we're going to need to think about this from a whole new angle and so that really was the beginning of my journey to say, let's change the way we design programs and policies entirely let's design for humans as opposed to for you know, econs that are like, we might say hyper rational in their behavior and I by the way, I agree with you that maybe we need to redefine how we understand rational.

- After this work, you then set out to put this into practice. Can you talk a little bit about what behavioral science looks like in practice?

- Yeah absolutely, so after finishing some of that work, went to an organization called ideas42, which is a non-profit firm that's focused on applying behavioral science to all aspects of social problems and I was lucky enough to be part of this team called the New York City Behavioral Design Team. So we made partnerships with the Mayor's office and then we were an embedded unit where we talked with departments and the city agencies and the city about what were their problems that they were dealing with and how might we apply a behavioral science lens to change the approach to program and policy design to like I said design for more sort of the psychological barriers that they might experience as opposed to that the economic incentive model and so one of my favorite favorite projects with this was my work with the New York City Fire Department. At the time they had come under a court monitor to make sure that their hiring process was more diverse they need to hire a more diverse set of firefighters and this is important because the city has an obligation to uphold anti-discrimination law in hiring and so we had the chance to look from end-to-end their whole hiring process what was it about that process that was introducing bias or introducing psychological barriers for certain groups and you know historically the fire department is white and male and it's pretty well known across the board and so how do you help groups people of color and also women feel comfortable and prepared to apply to become a firefighter. So we took some of the typical approaches so when I say typical approach, we said okay, well is there a regular sort of bias or barrier in this process that we could quickly eliminate and we noticed well there's a fee for the application, so we waived the fee and we saw an 80% increase in applications among black, Hispanic and female candidates. Wow, that was easy now I'll say small sample size so we won't hang our hat on that number or that external validity for that. We'll maybe talk a little bit about that here in a minute but then we looked at other things too so we looked at well does everybody have equal information about what the process looks like is the fire department sending reminders for important deadlines right. So the simple things, how can you make it a little bit easier to give people a little bit more slack for remembering important deadlines, but after doing all of that, it still felt like we were missing something and so I decided to do something called contextual recognizance. What that means is go through the process myself so I had already gone through the paper application and I'd gone through signing my email address up but I took the bus to Roosevelt Island from downtown Manhattan and I entered the building as if I was attending the firefighter candidate training and so I walked through the gates by the guards and I opened the doors into the fire department and I walked down the hallways as if I was a firefighter candidate and the thing that really got my attention is that the walls are adorned with heroes but heroes that among them there were no women and maybe one person who was brown or black and so when I think about a diverse set of firefighter candidates walking into that hall that really struck a chord in me and said, well, there's clearly some cues in this environment that creates psychological barriers for people who are aspirational in terms of becoming a firefighter and by the way, being a firefighter is an awesome job I mean you get to be an absolute hero. You it's a physical and interesting and diverse job great benefits great pay and long set of retirement and opportunities once you're off the engine phase. So it's a real desirable role and it carries a lot of respect in the city of New York and so opening that opportunity up to more people I think makes a ton of sense. So just to get to the end of the story here, which is that I was curious well how do people who have been successful from those communities how do they reinforce their ability to succeed in that environment? So spent a lot of time talking to people who had been successful and the commonality among them was that they had all found their why their reason for being a firefighter wanting to become a firefighter and serve their city in the first place and so what we did is we turned that around and we created it into an intention setting exercise where all of the trainees that were sitting in the room thought did some self-reflection on what it was that was their why for becoming a firefighter turned to a partner and had a discussion and learned about somebody else's why and then we gave them a little magnetic board where they could write their why down and then the idea was, put this in a place where you can revisit it every morning on your mirror in the bathroom or on your refrigerator when you're opening the refrigerator door to go get that ice cream and the point being it's important to be able to reinforce through really tough times your own self resiliency and so while that intervention doesn't break down some of the other psychological barriers and cues that are reinforced by frankly a culture that also needs some work. At least we're able to see some progress by building the psychological resiliency of those groups and so we didn't end up running a trial on that particular intervention but I'm proud to say that that cohort of firefighters was the most diverse cohort in history and they went into a really incredible situation where they then dealt with COVID in the city of New York so they were really on the front lines right away.

- I understand that there has been some controversy in recent years in the field of behavioral science and some famous research and researchers have been coming under the microscope can you talk a little about that from your perspective and how the discipline as a whole has reacted to this

- I'm glad you asked this Chris, it's important to address this issue so what you're referring to first is the replication crisis, which kind of came onto the scene in 2010 but really came onto the scene in 2015 and the other thing I think you're talking about is the issue that Dan Ariely recently faced in his honesty study around fabricated data so I'll talk about the replication crisis and I think that answer will also address the second issue So with the replication crisis yeah this is a big problem so in 2015 there was a study that looked at all of from a prominent psychological journal all of the studies in the year 2008 and took stock of if we rerun these studies and we follow them to a T do they replicate and the answer was somewhere between 35 and 50% of the time and it's like ooh that's not very good. You know and so the question was well, how would peer reviewed published papers in a journal get through if they're not replicable and so since then the discipline has started to get a lot more rigorous about some of the questions that it asks about testing and so I'll name a couple of those things. So the first is sample size. If you're running a really small psychological study then it's very likely that in that small and you don't have a very representative sample. and sometimes those are things that we can observe, sometimes they are things we simply can't observe and if we start to increase our size of our samples it's more likely that the studies will not just have internal validity, meaning that we saw statistically significant results from the study itself but extra validity meaning that it's possible that that thing that we found will replicate in another setting. So sample size is really important. The other thing is this concept of P hacking and really the idea here is that we should always hold ourselves to a high standard when thinking about the rigor of our studies, what that means is that we make a statistical estimate about how strong our findings are and we use this thing called a P value to define that. And we want the P value to be less than 0.05 maybe 0.05 but less than 0.05 nothing outside of that and what happens is that it can be really hard to say I didn't have a result and so sometimes people will publish a finding that's like, oh well, here's the one result that I found that had statistical significance but was out of lots of tests and maybe it was an interaction term, which means that it was just for a small subset of the population that the thing worked and so the way to get past that is preregistration, which means before we run a test we say here's the test we're running here's what we're measuring, these are the tests we're going to run and that's it and if we don't find anything, we'll publish it and we'll say we didn't find anything. And so those two things I think in concert have become new standards for especially the field of psychology and behavioral science, because we have come under this scrutiny and it's been very standard now to pre-register tests, to publish anonymized data so that people can go in and replicate your results and it's actually that rigorous community that found out that Dan Ariely had a study where the data were not correct that they were fabricated and so it's actually good to see the field self-correcting in that way to say oh well we see that this study didn't replicate and it looks like it didn't replicate because the data were bad so let's throw that one out and let's go run some new studies that are more rigorous so that we can inform ourselves how to influence behavior in those types of settings in a different way.

- That's super helpful and might be relevant in some of these further discussions here I'd love to actually now get to you know, what I see as the heart of the matter here, which is at Indeed we help people get jobs and in particular how behavioral science can help create more equity in hiring which I know is something that you're passionate about is something that I care very deeply about as well so can you start by talking a little bit about how behavioral science can help us better understand people while they're in this process of looking for a job

- Yeah absolutely and agreed this is the heart of the matter. So the thing about somebody who's approaching a job search is often they're experiencing a state of scarcity and when I say scarcity I mean a lack of necessary resources and that could be time, that could be money, it could be energy, it could be food but regardless what we know about lacking in any of those areas is that it can lead to serious cognitive depletion so let me back up a bit, if I'm a job seeker and I'm searching for a job it might be that I simply need a new role because I'm not experiencing a safe environment at work, or I feel like I'm not being valued that can create a sense of sort of psychological scarcity or perhaps I lost my job in which case I'm urgently seeking and in that case again, it's likely that I'm experiencing some type of economic scarcity and also that's stressful so I probably am tunneled in on trying to find a job but also taking care of bills, taking care of kids, making sure that there's food on the table right. So I sort of put ourselves in that mindset and you can imagine that that can be incredibly stressful so there's really good research by a professor named Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir actually and they did some work to look at what is the actual effect of scarcity on our cognitive function? What they found is that it's the equivalent to a drop of 10 points in IQ and that's the same as losing a whole night's sleep and so you can kind of remember a night that you maybe stayed up really super late working on something and had to wake up a few hours later and how foggy you felt well that's how it feels to operate in an environment of chronic scarcity. So we want to design an environment on Indeed that recognizes this reality and so there are a few ways to do that from a behavioral science perspective so the first thing is to just make it easy and so we do this very much so on Indeed in that we put all the jobs in one place. So you're not running all over the internet or all over town looking for job postings and also we make it easy to apply once. So you can kind of one click apply in some circumstances where you already have your resume there maybe you answer a couple of questions and then off you go and so that makes it really easy for job seekers to apply to jobs and one way to think about this is we should treat job seekers time as money and so giving them the opportunity to basically navigate our systems as easily as possible and anything that we do that makes it hasslefull I mean think back to the FAFSA application right? So anything that creates that sort of bureaucratic hassle that extra psychological barrier might mean a job seeker not applying to that job you know that one that was going to be, that was going to be it. So that's the first thing is to make it easy. The second is to think about creating slack. So when I say slack I mean like if you were to hold a rope and you were to hold it taut and then if you were to sort of loosen it that's slack and the reason we say this is because it's about how do you respond when somebody does make a mistake? So you know if you're in that cloudy state it's possible that sometimes things slip through the cracks it's like having lots of balls in the air when you're juggling and you're trying to address each one as they fall and sometimes two fall at once and you have to decide which one to catch and so one way to create slack for job seekers is to think about how do we respond when something gets missed. So perhaps an employer wants to meet with a job seeker and they send them an email inviting them to an interview Well it's possible that that job seeker among all the interviews sorry, among all of the emails in their inbox which you know we inundate each other with emails constantly in this current world. So what if one of those emails slips through the cracks? What does Indeed do to support the job seeker to see that? And so sometimes that means reminders sometimes it needs a second chance so rescheduling an interview down the road if the first one is missed things like that. And the final way is to think about what's called sort of reframing the experience to give job seekers a sense of agency or a sense of power. Really this is about that psychological resilience that we talked about with the firefighter candidates right this is the believing in myself piece and it's very easy for a system to say, no, no, no, no wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and so instead thinking about how do we, how do we design Indeed to say, yes, yes, you can do this we believe in you. So looking for opportunities through the whole process, from applying to a job to securing that place of, of meaningful work how we can do that, how we can do that best for job seekers.

- So that's one side of the equation, which is the job seekers, the other side obviously is the employers who are trying to find people to hire, how can behavioral science and these approaches help them as they're going about this process.

- Yeah absolutely, so we just talked about job seekers, now let's talk about employers. So employers often face different types of biases when hiring for job seekers and some of those have to do with that system one automatic thinking. So often when you're reviewing resumes for example, you're very automatic, you're in a system one environment and so that means that we make errors and that frankly if a more biased hiring decision results in less good outcomes for the employer meaning they're not choosing the job seekers that will be most successful in the roles that they're hiring for. And so there are a couple ways that employers experience that and so I just gave this example of a stack of resumes, so there's a concept in behavioral science called choice overload and it's this idea that when overwhelmed with choice it's actually really hard to make a good decision and often we regret the decisions that we make when we have too much choice. There's a cool study, there's a woman named Sheena Iyengar who was at Stanford, who looked at how supermarkets sell jams and without going into the whole study, the basic finding is that three jams are much easier to pick from thank you know, 25 varieties of jams but we wouldn't want to limit the number of job seekers that can apply for a role. So we wouldn't want to do that necessarily on Indeed, but for employers, what we can do is we can organize job seekers based on what we call aligned attributes so that's saying okay, well, what qualities do these job seekers have what skills what credentials, what competencies do job seekers have and how can we present those job seekers in groups to an employer so that it's easy to look through your choices without relying on the system one biases that come up and just to name it here often those unconscious biases are reflected in implicit bias so using things like name or credential to make assumptions about whether or not somebody will be a good candidate, which are frankly just not actually correlated with somebody's potential success in a role.

- So can you talk a little bit about how bias can affect a job seeker in that interview scenario?

- All right knowing that employers can enter the hiring process with some unconscious biases often what that means is that job seekers have to sort of organize themselves in a way so that they don't adhere to the negative biases that might exist. So let's talk about that a little bit more concretely, so if a job seeker is going into an interview with an employer it's likely that the way that they comport themselves, the way that they're prepared for questions, the way that they've dressed, it's all going to have an impact on how the employer perceives whether or not they're going to be a good hire now whether or not we agree with all of that is one thing but something that we can do for job seekers is to make sure that there's an even playing field when entering the interview. So giving job seekers the information about what it is that employers expect of them when they're in an interview setting and helping them understand how do you prepare for questions what is it that you're expected to wear, how should you comport yourself so that you come off well so that people can really, again, take control the situation and end up with the best outcome? You know there's another thing here too which is, so I talked a little bit about the biases that employers come into the room with but then similarly the system is sending a message to job seekers when they go through this interviewing process and so you really put a lot on the line when you go into an interview, you talk about yourself, you talk about your motivations, it can be pretty vulnerable and so it can be tough to receive a rejection at the end of all of that and especially a rejection that doesn't say anything about what it was that you did wrong if anything right and so sometimes it's just you weren't as competitive as somebody else but sometimes there was something that you could've done better and that's a tricky environment. It's something in behavioral science we call a wicked environment where it's not clear how your actions necessarily translate to the outcomes that you see and so something that we can think about with Indeed is supporting more psychological momentum at the point of rejection so in that moment when a job seeker is rejected from a role, rather than telling them, no you aren't qualified, try again next time. Instead giving them the opportunity to apply to several additional roles that are going to be equally as desirable for them and match some of their skills and competencies and so I've been thinking about this as no dead ends for job seekers, let's maintain that psychological momentum that they have going into that interview and convert it into new applies every single time that perhaps they get a rejection.

- [Chris] And obviously we're where we sit we have an opportunity to try to influence the process itself and so we've spent a lot of time talking with employers and our customers and we do hear that many of them are eager to find ways to reduce bias in their hiring process and we launched earlier this year the Indeed hiring platform and one of the things that we talk about at least at Indeed is when we're trying to hire there's this phrase that people have used for decades around hiring for culture fit and how that can just create a lens on your hiring that means that you're going to try to find other people who are just like you and so instead, what we talk about is wanting to hire for culture add, so how are we going to find people who actually have a different set of experiences or perspectives that they can bring in to make us better how when we're building our products and we're working with our clients, how can we ensure that more and more people are thinking in this direction?

- Yeah, totally agreed. I mean, this concept of culture fit, it's such a holdout in terms of the large set of exclusionary practices that we've had in hiring for a long time. And I think. one thing that's important here is to think about well, what are the points at which employers are bringing that lens to look at a job seeker and I think often it's at the resume reviewing stage and frankly the resumes this antiquated document that doesn't tell us very much about how a job seeker is going to perform in a role and we're looking for all sorts of weird signals on it right so aside from name and credentials and stuff, we're also looking for well did they job hop well what does job hopping have anything to do with it or do they have a gap in their employment well there are all sorts of important reasons why people have to step away from employment for a period of time. So we wouldn't want to exclude those people from the potential hiring pool. And so one way, and those are all things that fit into this category of are they a good fit so I'm working really hard to remove that language from my vocabulary entirely and looking to help other people do the same thing and in our journey to do that, another thing that I think we're we're trying to do is just remove the resume reviewing stage from the hiring process entirely. And we're actually doing that a little bit with our Indeed Hiring Platform where we're basically asking employers to trust us we're going to screen candidates on your behalf and then we're going to schedule them on your calendar and then you're going to show up and you're going to talk to people who are excited and engaged and qualified for your roles and what's cool about that is first of all, the job seekers love the idea because we talked about this idea in behavioral science actually which is the foot in the door effect and job seekers know about it they're like, all I have to do is get my foot in the door if you can talk to me, I can show you why I would be great for this role, my resume isn't going to show you that but I can show you that and I think similarly on the other side of the equation, employers are really irked by it because it's challenging the status quo in hiring they're so used to relying on that single document as the original truth and as we start to get away from that, we're starting to step away some of these historical exclusionary practices like culture fit.

- So, when it comes to lowering barriers, reducing bias and creating more equity which is really what we're trying to do and what we're talking about here, there tends to be this perspective that people have that equity is a zero sum game, that if you're going to help someone achieve frankly, what in a fair system they would have the opportunity for that that's going to come at the expense of someone else. And so these, these issues around equity and hiring can get, can get heated and they can get, they can get political. How, what is the perspective from a behavioral science point of view on this?

- Yeah, this is a great question. So from a behavioral science perspective I think really this is about framing so for the longest time sort of, obviously you've mentioned, there's been this mentality of zero sum game that if one group has the opportunity for more economic prosperity, then another group will lose theirs but the reality is that it is a growing pot and if we can all invest in the shared prosperity of each other we're all going to see an increase in our wellbeing and our opportunities for freak economic outcomes in the future. There's a really you know I know that you have a long reading list Chris of books that you've read this year, where this may have come up as well but there's a book that I read recently called, The Sum of Us by an author named Heather McGee and it really made a meaningful impact on me in that she talks a lot about how during the period of desegregation in the United States, lots of policies that were put into place in order to avoid integration, ended up really hurting many white families in this country. I think it's a, it's a really interesting point that she makes. And she talks about alternatively this idea of the solidarity dividend, this idea that if we stand in solidarity with each other, we all get a little extra boon from it. And so I truly believe in that. And I think it's really, it's about framing. How do we frame this? You know, one example in hiring of this is the, the requirement for a college degree. So one way to think about this is the college degree in this country is actually a better predictor of what zip code you grew up in than you know, any other aptitude and often jobs will set a college degree requirement as something that's required in order to apply to the role. But the truth is, is that excludes millions of Americans who have not had access to a higher post-secondary education and so in doing that, if we were to look at all the roles that require a college degree, in order to remove that college degree requirement from the roles for which it's really not necessary, you would see a huge increase in opportunity for all job seekers. And it wouldn't necessarily be disparate across groups.

- Yeah and that's certainly been our experience. We a couple of years ago, eliminated degree requirements for the vast majority of, of roles at Indeed and there's no question the impact that that has. I'd love to just talk as we're winding down here about some of the projects that are ahead for your team, that you hope will improve equity and hiring.

- Yeah, absolutely. So once you widen the funnel, you remove some of these outdated requirements, you stopped resume screening, and he started talking to people immediately. All of a sudden you have the issue of, well, what is it that you talk to people about? And unfortunately, inconsistency at the interview stage can really lead again to biased outcomes for people who are looking for work. And so one way that we're attempting to, to eradicate some of that is by structuring interviewing, which means how do you take the requirements of the job and then turn that into some interview questions and then ask those interview questions in the interview stage. And it sounds simple, right, but it's actually, it's really hard. So recently some of my colleagues on our team tried to do this with our UX design hiring, so hiring for an internal role and, and doing so we did exactly as I described. And then we all sat down in the interview panel and popcorn here come the questions and we're trying to capture, okay, what are the qualifications that we were asking for Okay, I'm taking notes on what they're saying and wait, do we need to score these in a certain way? Do we all agree on the score for each of these qualities? So the point is, is the evidence is clear. This is the best way to equalize objective outcomes for the interview stage, but it's hard to do in practice. And so we're working on it internally ourselves and learning what the barriers are and then the intention is to say, well then can we make that process really easy perhaps for employers by applying some technological model to doing that. So I think that's definitely coming down the road for us because as we get more into the interview and we get to that stage with job seekers, we want to continue to support their momentum to get to the next stage

- One thing that I like to ask at the end here is just looking back over the last 20 plus months or so, which as you pointed out at the start has been extraordinarily difficult for the world. What experience have you had during that time that has left you with some optimism for the future?

- Yeah. Well, as you said, it's been a hard period. I think the statistic came out around 5 million people have lost their lives this year so I definitely want to acknowledge that this has been a tough period on everyone and on families and so I appreciate everybody who in that moment needs to take a deep breath but what I'll say is I do have some optimism around this, which is that for the first time in the U.S history, we started writing families checks and that is awesome. And the reason I think that is that there's all sorts of research that shows that when you just give people money directly without conditions, they spend it on health, they spend it on education, it reduces alcohol consumption, it reduces crime in neighborhoods, essentially that if you give people the money they need, they'll use it in the way that sustains better outcomes for themselves and for their families and ultimately for their communities and so this year, this past year was the first time that conditions aside, no work requirements, no child bearing requirements, no conditions on how you have to spend it, we gave people money and so now there's a system in place that basically has tried that out and I think it means that there's prospects for doing it again.

- Well, Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk today about your, your experience and, and what it is that you're trying to bring to Indeed. And thank you so much for everything that you do to help people get jobs all over the world.

- Well, thanks. Chris has been really great speaking with you today.