Diversity in Hiring

A little background

We started Obvious eight years ago and have since grown to a team of 30+ deeply-skilled craftspeople interested in design, technology, people and the intersection between these three. But there is a problem. Right from the get-go, our founding team was entirely male and between the ages of 25 and 30.

We know that we live and work in a world where certain groups are underrepresented in most spheres of work. In the design and technology space in India, most organisations are largely homogeneous entities with people whose experiences of life are by and large the same. Under-representation is most visible in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability and caste. We’ve been thinking about this, and about the ways in which we can change the status quo in our workplace.

We strongly believe that the strongest solutions (from technology and design perspectives) are made when a diversity of voices, opinions and perspectives are brought to bear on problems that our clients hire us to solve.


Read more: Our thoughts on diversity on our blog and in the October 2020 edition of our monthly newsletter, Overheard at Obvious.

Sourcing Candidates

Building a great team starts with attracting great candidates, and there are three channels we can use to attract candidates: referrals, outbound recruiting, and inbound interest.

We should keep all three channels open, but be thoughtful about the biases that result from each channel so that we can make them work for our team-building goals and values.

Open positions are posted on our website.

🤝 Referrals

Referrals from people who already work at Obvious are one of the best signals we can get about whether or not a candidate will be successful at Obvious. Obvious employees understand the organisation's needs and what it’s like to work at Obvious; their relationship with the candidate means they know a lot more than we can learn during an interview process.

In order to get good referrals, everyone needs to know which positions are open, know how to start the recruiting process, have time to search their network, and feel aligned with the company's mission and priorities. We expect everyone to go through their online networks looking for and thinking about candidates. Employees will do initial outreach to interesting connection, which will give us a good space to talk about how we start the recruiting process.

The danger with referrals is that we are most likely to refer candidates who are like us, which can result in a homogeneous team instead of the diverse one we want to create. We should emphasise diversity as a priority and also search the local networks we are involved in. We should also continue to look for other ways to offset this bias on an organisational level.

🗣️ Outbound Recruiting

For every position open at Obvious, the People Team takes ownership for the recruiting efforts for that position. This starts with writing the job description and publishing it on our website, but also means proactively searching for people who might be a good fit, looking for pools of candidates that we can recruit from, and asking friends for introductions to promising candidates.

It is critical that we find talent pools of diverse candidates to pull from, and that our outbound recruiting intentionally target underrepresented groups. If we are recruiting from universities, we need to be careful about which schools we draw from. If we are pulling people from other companies, it’s important that we are thoughtful about the location and industry biases of those companies.

➡️ Inbound Applications

All of our job openings and descriptions will be posted on our website, and will be copied on other sites where we can advertise positions. Careful thought should be given to where we post job openings, as traditional boards have homogeneous audiences. We will also have people reading about Obvious through our blog and social media, developers working with our tools and participating in our community, and a broad audience hearing about Obvious through news or using the product.

Inbound applications give us the highest number of candidates that are outside of our personal networks, but also have the lowest initial filter because no one at Obvious is making any judgment about the candidate before they enter our pipeline. Because of the light filter, it can be tempting to dismiss these candidates, but an inbound application is a strong signal that the candidates believe in what we’re doing at Obvious. This means that a smaller percentage of candidates from a broader pool will progress through our interview funnel. Regardless, we still need to treat inbound applications with respect.

Every inbound application should receive a response from the Obvious team within 7 days so that they feel heard and like that they were able to reach us personally.

Inclusive Hiring