Diversity hiring by design


www.included.worksThe Included Works journey started many years ago when I during my time as founder of GeekGirlMeetup had weekly emails asking if I knew female developers that could come work at their companies. I wanted to help them but I wasn’t motivated by unpaid work for commercial entities. I was told by other people that I can ask for a finder’s fee to help them find the right person and to be aware that I, especially as a minority in the business, should not be working for free. I allowed myself to ask exploratory questions like “is there a budget”, “are you getting paid to do this work?”, or “how many women work there now?”. By asking, I opened up a world of possibilities for me: some companies offered a bigger finder’s fee, some a smaller, and some none at all.

I started doing research, and the results were – drumroll – that men tended to get paid more for referrals. One can conclude that men refer to a more senior level and do more recommendations in general, both inside and outside company referral networks, but first and foremost they ask about compensation for their work.

Many companies said that they can’t keep up with hiring during hyper growth, as they have already emptied their pool of friend-of-a-friend options and want to reach out to the community in a more efficient and structured way.

So if Steve hire Steves during massive growth, and a company doesn’t take in diverse candidate suggestions, you start growing a very undiverse culture, which leads to undiverse companies. Lack of diversity will become an issue for companies exponentially if they don’t address it from the beginning: the better initial diversity, the easier it is to maintain long term, research states.One could also apply perspective from an economical standpoint: if you know that EBIT would improve 3.5% for every 10% increase in gender diversity on the senior executive team(1. McKinsey Research), how much is 1% better worth to you?

Our research shows:

  • Companies in growth need structure for external community recommendations. Fast growing companies quickly use up their internal referrals and have little structure or support to reach out to their community even if they wanted to. They prefer experts recommending experts – developers recommending developers – but at some point their own network just can’t produce more.
  • Company internal referral programs tend to give you more of the same type of talent (2. Linkedin)and are often counterproductive when aiming for diversity. In other words: the best expert talent recommenders don’t work for your company. Hiring managers say personal recommendations are super-powerful, and that a recommendation does not have to come from an internal source: with transparency and recommender track-record, recommendations can come from outside the immediate network.

To help others in my situation we created Included, a framework where companies who strive for diverse talent could reach out to the community for recommendations, and offer a finder’s fee to avoid unpaid work especially with minority groups.

Included.works allows companies to express that they are open to hiring diverse candidates by design. We also break the company internal silos by allowing well-connected experts in the community to take part of companies finder’s fee programs. 

The result is a complement to other hiring services, supporting the hire of a diverse workforce with help from the experts in the tech-community with full transparency, and a rating-system for system self regulation. 

We think this practical approach to helping companies open up the door to diversity in the workforce will be a source for growth and innovation for all. What is your hiring and diversity policy?


  1. McKinsey Research https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters
  2. Linkedin https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/diversity/2018/why-referrals-might-be-hurting-your-diversity-efforts-and-what-you-can-do-to-change-that

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