Originally aired on June 24, 2021 @ 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM EDT
A round table discussion of how world-changing events and social issues in 2020/2021 came to the forefront of the public consciousness, and how talent acquisition teams will need to rethink their Employer Brand and recruiting strategies.
Hello everybody that is watching around the globe to another episode of Cloudflare's Recruiting Corner. I'm your host, Todd Ciampa, based in Austin, Texas. I've been with Cloudflare for a little bit over a year and on the Recruiting Corner we like to talk about anything and everything recruiting. It could be about open jobs, it could be about recruiting best practices, anything and everything that is really related to talent attraction. And so today I'm really excited to be here with a couple of my friends, co-workers currently or former co -workers. And so without further ado, I want to go ahead and let them introduce themselves and we'll start off with Suzie. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hi, I'm Suzie Jimenez and I am a newer to Cloudflare. I actually have only been here about two months, so I can say that I've got my feet wet. I hit the ground running and so I'm supporting hiring an ETI here at Cloudflare and I'm excited to be here. Awesome. For those of people who don't know, what is ETI? ETI, Emergent Technology and Incubation. All new things, new technology that we hire for as well as engineering. So you're a software engineer, language, Rust, C++, Golang, open source talent is what we're looking for. That's awesome. Awesome. And then also joining us is a very good friend of mine, Brian Chaney, who I've been fortunate to know for gosh, coming up on 11 years now, if not more than that. Brian, tell us a little bit about yourself. Yeah, it feels like way more than 11 years. I think the past year and a half has felt almost like 11 years. But yeah, known you for a really long time, known both of you for a while. And I lead employer brand at Indeed. I'm Brian Chaney. I'm also a co-founder of the Talent Brand Alliance. So people, when you think about recruitment marketing, employer brand, talent brand, all the things that help tell the story of what it's like to work at a company. And that's a company's all over the place. So the Talent Brand Alliance is actually a community of people who learn from each other. And because there's no rule book, there's no one right way to do everything or that's our perspective on it anyway. But yeah, I lead the team that manages and amplifies employer brand, actually helping to hire people to work at Indeed. So yeah, it's an interesting perspective when you're selling and educating people on what it's like to work at a place where people go to find jobs working everywhere else. Yeah. And go ahead, Suzy. Yeah. And that's actually how Brian and I met. I've been recruiting for a long time and I come from a staffing background. So marketing is everything. And so I started doing my research and I came across talent brand. What is this? Recruiting marketing, it's like a whole new world for me. So I started pinging people in the network and Brian's like, you have a network that you can learn from. And so that's how we met. And I actually hosted one of the first Austin meetups and it was an amazing time to be able to meet like minded folks and learned a lot from scratch on recruiting marketing. Yeah. To that vein, right? I've been recruiting for more years than I want to remember. And similarly, when I met Brian, I was working at an agency and we worked at a local Austin RPO together. And I was very accustomed to kind of down and dirty recruiting where it was just very much like maybe posting jobs, but really hunting for candidates and kind of make those matches without really great work, amplifying an opportunity to really reach a broader audience. And so the year plus that I did work with Brian, I learned so much more about how you can leverage recruitment marketing to really bring more people into your top of your funnel, to ensure that you get a good cross section of the market and that you do fill jobs with the right kind of talent that are going to have a passion about what you do as an organization and ideally build great products and stay with the company for quite some time by really understanding who that company is and making that great match. And so the things that we wanted to talk about today is that companies for the last several years have really been thinking about all of these components that can bring great talent to companies. And a lot of things happened in the last 18 months that we're all aware of, right? There has really been world changing events from COVID-19 to some of the things that have happened with George Floyd. And a lot of that's really brought some things to the forefront for the consciousness of the overall public. And people like us have to start thinking about how all of those impacts have companies thinking a little bit differently about how they represent their brands to attract talent. So what we wanted to do today is kind of talk a little bit about that. Talk a little bit about what maybe companies did prior to 2020 and what are some of the things they're thinking about with this shift. And so, you know, first and foremost, Brian, like, you know, as someone who really is an expert in talent attraction and employment brand, how do you feel like that really does impact a recruiting team to be successful? So you said companies have kind of slightly changed their but no, they have thrown their plans out the window, depending upon what their plan was originally, right? So it really depends on the audience they were trying to reach. And so to your point, yeah, last year, I see yesterday, but last year, what's the time? So last year, we had this intersection of the pandemic that forced all of us at Indeed, we were one of the first companies to send everybody home. And that was in early March. And it feels like forever ago. But we had that where we were all adjusting to all these things. And I felt like I had my internal comms hat on and PR and all these other things that because we it what it did was it showed us where we had holes in our process, from being a flex environment where people were working from home, people were coming into the office. And so there was pain, and adjustment and learning just around, hey, we're now going to be 100% remote for the time being. So we started going through that. And then that's not even counting all the health stuff that went along with the pandemic. So you have that you overlaid all the health concerns, people didn't know what they didn't know. And on top of all that, or should I say over and through and under were the, you know, civil rights and civil injustice, and all the inequalities that were exposed in an elevated to the forefront of everybody's mind, you had all those things. So you've got all these complete this complex situation of how companies relate to the talent that they're trying to hire, because their reputation is no longer about free drinks and snacks and a pretty office to go into. And it's how do you share what's going on? How are you helping your employees deal with these challenges? How are you setting them up for success? So the narrative really changed. A lot of the good companies were already looking at the employee or the potential candidate as the hero of the stories, which you should do. But there are a lot of companies who weren't. And so they had to shift their their frame of perspective, because it was now front page news, how you were treating your employees, how you were empowering them, how are you supporting them to be, and giving them the space to be human. Totally, totally. Susie, what are some of the things that you think that companies should be thinking about, right, as it relates to a talent attraction in this post-2020 world? You know, when the pandemic hit and we were all sent home, a lot of us were not used to working from home. And so you have your home life and your business now all wrapped up into one. And then, you know, for those of us that have kids, you know, now we have kids at home. And on top of work, we're also, you know, homeschooling. And, you know, so I think flexibility has been the biggest trend to be able to give people that opportunity to also take care of their responsibilities at home and giving an opportunity for employees to express how they feel. I think that the feeling part of it and being and creating that safe space and sharing the struggles without feeling judged or, oh, she can't do the job because of, you know, the extra responsibilities. And I think just giving the employees that safe space and the tools that they need in order to accomplish the work and the projects that are being done. I think that was like the biggest forefront that comes to mind is allowing safe space conversations to share and share. Go ahead. So what I want to ask is, and I know that you were at a different company over a year ago when all this hit, but there were some perceptions in the market previously that not all employees can do their job remotely. Not all, like there's a hit to productivity or you have to be in the office. There's very old school ways of thinking. Now I get certain roles are critical to actually show up and do the work, but the perception that was challenged was, oh no, you can't do your work remotely. And then everybody got pushed to test that to the limit. And I know some people got proven wrong and you got to wonder how they responded to that, right? So that was like a quiet, they responded super quietly or they responded, you know, loudly to their employee base and to the rest of the world about what kinds of flexible options their employees really could have. Yeah. And that shifted the recruiting marketing to the strategies that I had in place at my previous role. I walked into my recruiting marketing position, March, 2020. So all the ideas that I had just kind of went out the window, like you said, and what are we doing now? What, what are, how do we want to be perceived? What information do we share? How are we going to attract talent and be able to let them know that if they come to work here, this is a safe space and we're going to give you the tools to be successful in a remote world. So it was just recreating all of that and it shifted the way that, you know, the branding and the messaging and getting everybody on the same page to be able to tell the message of who we are as a company and how we're going to help you. Yeah. On that thread, it's really interesting too, because, you know, I think one of my observations in the last, you know, 10 plus years is really this, this push for more data -driven decision-making, right. And, you know, especially for us fortunate enough to work in technology, right, there's a lot of ways to really understand and measure productivity. And I think if you do talk to a lot of different companies about this, right, most of them will, will, will talk about how productivity is, has actually increased during this time. Yet there is that, that part of them that still wants to go back to their gut and maybe some of their preconceived notions about work getting done from away from, from the office. And, and, and so, you know, Brian, like, you know, when you start thinking about how companies should be thinking about, you know, remote only or, or everyone go back in the office and hybrid model, like what are, what are some of things that you're hearing and thinking about that? And then how do you share that with potential candidates? So what you're selling has to be packaged. And so when you're selling that opportunity, you're selling that experience. And part of that experience is no longer having to come into the office for a lot of people, but then it's like, okay, now what, what does that, what does that look like? How am I supported? Do you, what technology do you have? What tools do you supply a stipend for work from home gear? What, what audio visual support? Like I've got a setup here in front of me, I've got a nice big monitor and a stand. And we had a, we had a stipend. We went through a couple of rounds of stipends because, you know, we hadn't mandated work from home. We did work from home, but it wasn't something where we expected people to do it consistently over a long period of time. So I bought office chair. I bought, I bought a nice, you know, ring light and a webcam. And, and I bought, well, I, I already owned this huge microphone, but, but beyond that, it was like, how do I set myself up for success? So that was part of it. And believe it or not, true story at Indeed with their stipend, work from home stipend, somebody actually bought a bunny rabbit. So that's just one example of like, there are all kinds of things that people did. They, some people bought plants. They, some people bought, you know, stand up desks, chairs, all kinds of things to work. But it was also, how do you deal with the stress? Because it's one of the quotes that I am going to massacre right now from, from leaders at Indeed was, we are not all working from home. We are, we are, we're, we're working, we're trying to live in our work environment during a pandemic. And so like, there's a difference in how you think about that because working from home, it's like, oh, you got your bunny slippers on and you got your coffee and you're, and you're just sitting there. That's the typical work from home stereotype. And it's not, this has not been that for a lot of us. So for us, it was defining what those options look like. And we're still in the process of doing that. But for us, we basically said, you're either, you're either at a position where you have to work in the office, you, when, when that's safe, again, and then the next is a flex situation where you can work from home and go into the office when you need, or there's 100% fully remote. So there's actually three options that we're providing our employees. And so we're now looking at how we tell that story from a marketing and employment brand perspective. How do we then tell that story of these are the options and this is what you have? Because as you, as, as you look at how a lot of companies are selling their opportunities, many of them either didn't even say remote, or they said remote until the pandemic is over or temporarily remote. So they're, they were calling it out. Like you're not going to be able to work remote. And cause we're either we, either we don't have the logistics to support you or we don't want to give you logistics to support you to be able to do that. Yeah. Support bunny. That's a, that's a new one. Port dogs and, you know, peacocks. Hey, Hey, how have you ever, like, there's something about, about, about petting a soft money rabbit. That's just, you know, it's like, it's like the calm app, but you know, but, but more carrots. And you know, I purchased a Peloton with mine because I needed that release. I needed that self-care, you know, I couldn't just get up and, and, you know, here in Texas, it gets human and hot and nobody likes to run in there, but you know, it just felt like I needed, that's what I needed. And so going back to recruiting marketing, like, what are we doing to help? And so, and that brings up the other, you know, mental health and being able to take care of ourselves and how do we, you know, use that for recruiting and marketing as well. You know, I, I saw the shift go from these nicely professional videos of employees to those organically, you know, filmed videos of life at home while working. And I thought that was really, really interesting and, and it felt real and it felt raw and it felt like you could relate, you know, to the people that you would potentially be working with. So I think there has been that, that the human element has been really reintroduced, right? And, and I think, you know, the, the company leaders that are willing to, to be vulnerable in front of their, their employee and demonstrate that their mothers and their fathers and, and, and, and other things besides being executives helps to, to connect. And I think it's important that companies do that, right? And there's all kinds of different ways through, through social media to really, to really tell that story, to, to humanize things. So I really wanted to kind of also think more through that lens of social injustice, right? And, and, and how companies are, are thinking about that and, and not only talking that talk, but, but, but walking that walk, right? And, and, you know, Brian, you hit on it earlier, right? I think, you know, before 2020, it was look at our big buildings and we offer free food and free drink and, and all of those, those type of things. And now there's even a bigger focus on, on, on purpose and, and, and ethics and, and diversity, right? And inclusion and, and, and equity and, and corporate social responsibility. So, so Susie, actually tell me a little bit more about, about what you think about kind of those pillars and how companies can think about making sure that that is a part of their, their strategy. Yeah. And, and it, it's important that the companies have chief diversity officers on the executive level. That is just my opinion where they are tapped into the executive team and also into what the employees need. Cause when you think about diversity, inclusion, and equity, it starts with what, what is your workforce look like? What are their needs? What is that, that makeup? Where are the gaps? What are, what do they need? And so I think it's great. It's really important that there is that connection between the executive team and, and the workforce and what the needs are and what the gaps are. It's just having everyday conversations. You know, it's not HR's responsibility to fix diversity and inclusion. It's the entire company and hiring managers and directors that, you know, have employees working under them and being able to have those conversations and manage, you know, the diverse talent that is there. And then from a talent attraction perspective is how are you communicating that they can feel safe and find representation and that they can relate to so that they can come and do their best work and share ideas and create that. It's okay to fail. It is okay to share ideas and we all learn from them. So I think that's, that gap is, is missing in a lot of companies where sometimes the executive team does not know what the, the employee base is like and what the, what the needs are and, you know, what they're going to need to do in the future as far as hiring diverse talent. But it starts with inclusion. You know, are you creating an inclusive workforce where somebody like me can come in and see representation and feel like I have equity and I have the same opportunities as everybody else does to be able to, to grow in my career and promote from within. And it's, it's, it's a conversation that needs to be had every day and it has to be intentional. Yeah. Brian, Brian, how do, how does a company showcase that? So to tie off something that Susie mentioned is around having that equity, but part of that equity is feeling relevant, feeling like you have a place to be heard and, and a place to be yourself. And so there's a couple of things that, that, that affect that. So number one, transparency has been the biggest driver of change and acceptance and communication for us over the last year and a half. So we've gone from having the quarterly chat with our leaders to literally every single week, there's an open live Q and A with executive leaders and it wrote the guests rotate out, but that's, it's like super transparent around. Here's what we're tackling. Here's what we're doing. Here's what's coming up. We know you care about these things and these are, this is, this is our stance on these things. So that has been huge for us, but even beyond that, it's how we represent who the company is from a recruitment marketing perspective to tie back to talent attraction. You've got to tell those voices. You've got to shoot, you've got to tell the stories that are across the voices within your organization. So how you, how you highlight those stories and really being able to, to do that in a way that doesn't come across as, as lip service, I think is really important because you're back at that nexus of all those things that we talked about last year was, Hey, by the way, we're coming up on pride and we've got the black lives matter movement and we've got all these things that are literally happening at the, at the exact same time. And for us, it was, Hey, we can't, we can't let the story be about us. We can't let the, this has to be us raising up our employees voices and telling their stories. And, and we were pretty lucky in that the, we partner with a social team, PR, internal comms, a whole bunch of basically the, all the silos just kind of dissolved within, within the, that, that nexus of all those different things happening just because they had to. But for us, it was, how do we tell those stories? And, and it was important not to feel like we were pandering to the moment. And so we, we talked to our internal resource groups or inclusion resource groups. A lot of companies call them ERGs or employee resource groups, but our inclusion resource groups. And we said, Hey, how do we, how do we do this? How would we tell these stories? And you've got the, you've got the pride group and you've got the, the, the, you know, black inclusion group. And they're both saying, give the microphone to the other group. So it was like that kind of moment where they're like, no, no, it's your moment run with it. And we're like, no, no, this is intersectionality. This is everybody's, we have to look at the opportunity to tell everybody's story in this moment, but, and also do it in a way that shows that this is not the first time that we're sharing employee voices. So for, for a long time, for, for several years, we've shared employee voices through our, our culture channels called Inside Indeed. And, and so if you go back and look at that, we're like, it's important to have a nod to that so that they know this isn't okay. This is now, now this is what we're doing because we realize it's important, but it's an extension of our, our practice that we've always held, which was, which I think is, is important for, for us because we want people to know that there's history there and it's, and it's beyond just what's happening in the moment. That's, that was my, that was a pretty powerful moment for me. Yeah. And I think one of the, excuse me, I'll get to you in one second. I just wanted to kind of piggyback on, on, on Brian. And I think one of the things that attracted me to, to Cloudflare outside of the great technology and, and the, the mission of, of helping to build a better Internet. But, but through my interview process as, as, you know, as a recruiting leader diversity and plans around that are important to me as well. And the, the number of, of groups that, that we have ERG groups at Cloudflare is, is so much more than what you see at so many different companies, right? We think of all the different ways of, of helping to, to include people whether it relates to gender or race or activities or, or struggles. And, and, and, and it's been awesome, right? So we, we talked about a lot of the things internally and, and obviously during, during the pandemic, you know you had to kind of figure out a way to, to still connect with people, right? Customers or, or, or employees. And I think one of the great innovations is the platform we're on right now today, Cloudflare TV. And so this is something that's 24 seven, 365. We're not only do we talk about the different products and the different things we're doing to, to secure networks and, and, and employees that are working remotely, but, but how we showcase the, the equity and inclusion activities that we're doing is a big part of, of how we, we, we want to promote our, our, our brand, right? To, to, to let people know that those things are important to us as well. Susie. Yeah. Yeah. We're coming up on four minutes. And so I wanted to just echo and you took the words right out of my mouth is during my job search, I was very intentional of trying to find a place that where I felt like I was going to fit in and be heard and find representation because it's that intersectionality to where, you know when I was doing my research, it was the blogs, the Cloudflare TV, the, you know, I saw a lot of things that, you know, I felt like, Hey, I can make an impact here. I have the experience and, you know, I'm able to, you know, take what I, my experiences, not just my work experience, but my personal experiences too. I'm a very transparent person. And I felt like this would be a place where I'm definitely going to be able to, to share and feel safe and talk about all things, diversity inclusion, but intersectionality was, was where I saw that was the biggest impact for us to be able to, to, to share and talk and understand each other. Cause that's what inclusion is, is understanding each other. And once you understand each other, then you're more open to sharing with the other person as you get to know each other. Yeah, no, I think the threads I've heard throughout this process have really, or this discussion I should say is that, you know, through adversity globally, right. There are opportunities for, for companies to think differently, right. And, and to actually drive positive impact through, through this adversity, right. To, to kind of come back in a better way to, to help solve all of these, these things have been going on for the last year and a half. So Brian, if there's anything you wanted to kind of wrap up on your end, kind of help us or bring us home. Yeah. I, I feel like from a recruitment marketing and employer brand standpoint, you have to humanize your company because, and I, and this is a journey that Indeed has been on as well as lots of other companies, but figuring out how do we, how, how do we become okay with sharing our bone vulnerability? How do we, how do we put employees out there? How do we humanize the experience, the journey that they're going through and tell that story? And I think that's, for me, that's been, that's been a huge upside because the stories that we were trying to tell before this, you know, there's, there's some pushback of, you know, Oh, I don't, I can't be vulnerable. Oh, this is the story that I think, I think you want to hear. And when, when I'm talking to an employee, I always ask, like, I get, I get that. I, what, what is it? You say your team has a great culture or you, or you felt supported. What does that mean? How, what is it? What's a moment when you felt supported? What's a moment when you thought, wow, that's culture here. Like that's, those are the stories and being vulnerable, sharing those moments and sharing those times that you might not be proud of. I think the bravery to stand up and share those moments is, is what I've, I've taken away from the last couple of years. And I think other people have, have felt it. And I love it. Susie, any closing comments on your end? No, I'm just really, I think the silver lining here with the pandemic and the social injustice is that we all get to know each other on a more personal level and we can help make this a better world and be allies and advocates for those that have not stood up for themselves in the past. And so I think this is going to be a great opportunity for us to, to Brian's point, just humanize it and have real conversations that, you know, we can share with each other and our struggles without the fear of being judged for who you really are and bring your authentic self to work. So. And, and I'll just kind of conclude here in the last minute too, right? If there's any executives out there, you know, listening, right. Increase that empathy. Talk less, listen more, understand who your employees are, what's important to them. And how do you amplify that out to the marketplace to bring the right people in there and help you build the right products and services that'll support your company. So Brian, always so good to see you Susie. It was so awesome to have you on your first episode of many more. As you come with that, we will sign off and thank you so much for joining.