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Neurodiversity and Hiring Manager Customer Experience

Head of TA for SAP Cloud Computing, Tony Cornett, discusses his company's diversity hiring efforts in terms of providing education, opportunity, and focusing on neurodiversity sourcing


Unknown Speaker 0:00

Welcome back, you will recruiting sourcing hire an interview and ragtag bunch of talent acquisition wonders. It's me Rob Stevenson here at the helm once more, and I am tucked away in the insalubrious confines of my home recording studio, which just means I'm at my desk with a blanket over my head and the microphone, such as my commitments to all of you. Anyway, if this is your first time tuning in, here's the bangers and mash. Every week, I'm going to bring in my favorite people in the recruiting space directors of recruitment heads of town acquisition, global heads of TA, you name it, I'll get them in here. And they are going to do primarily one thing. top talent to me. Joining me this week is a man who has recruited for companies like the weather channel and teksystems, he was head of global ta at Blackberry. Now he's the head of talent acquisition for the cloud computing group at SAP and we had a really fascinating chat. SAP is doing some interesting and unique work on the diversity hiring front, particularly around neuro diversity. And Tony is also focused personally on how to get hiring managers to think bigger about their roles and the larger needs of the hires that they have to make. He also thinks resumes will soon be a thing of the past. We cover all this and more. Tony is just immensely knowledgeable and articulate. I think you're all really gonna love this one. So without further chicanery or jiggery pokery here is Tony Coronet. Mr. Koerner, thank you so much for joining me. How are you today? I'm doing great. How are you? Really, really well, I'm here in my makeshift home studio. So I'm kind of rolling with a little bit. I don't have my normal rig. But I'm excited. I'm glad you glad you're able to join me.

Unknown Speaker 2:13

I'm glad that you asked me. And I'm very happy and thrilled to have the opportunity. How's everything going over SAP? Everything's going really well. lots of exciting things going on a lot of hiring taking place. So it's a good time.

Unknown Speaker 2:29

What are some of the big projects or initiatives you're working on right now?

Unknown Speaker 2:34

Well, under the group that I have, which is called the cloud business group, it's a collection of some of the acquisitions that we've had. So there's SAP ariba, SAP, concur, SAP, fieldglass, SAP, successfactors, SAP hybris, a lot of different companies that that we have integrated into our ecosystem. So one of the, you know, some of the projects, we're working on integrating our teams more closely together, working on projects around experience around diversity, and just overall around how we can best win the war for talent.

Unknown Speaker 3:12

Thank you for thank you for doing my job as an interviewer and explaining your role. First of all, I probably should ask you that, but I'm terrible at this. Thank you for kind of giving given some background, you are also working on this, this diversity initiative that is a little different than the ones I normally tend to hear about, which is focusing on autistic candidates. Is that right? That's, that is correct. Can you kind of walk us through that whole project?

Unknown Speaker 3:37

Sure. We started a project right around, I would say three and a half years ago, that is called autism at work. And the way we look at that is, you know, through diversity lenses is differently abled people differently abled talent, but also neuro diversity is what we call it, right? SAP has a goal of making 1% of the entire workforce at SAP making that have that makeup of people with autism by 2020. So as we go through that journey, that talent journey, looking at people, you know, ways of addressing skill shortages. This is a way to do that tapping into non traditional pools of talent being more inclusive, and also looking at things such as 2020 2030 skills that are necessary for the more cognitive revolution that's happening. And you know, looking at complex problem solving. So with that started out early on, bringing people in for internships, and seeing how the these candidates related to our workplace related to our culture, environment, and overall, how they really could can help support us and help us as a company as SAP deliver on on the goals and things that we needed to do. And it's it's been really successful. So You know, currently we will go out and we'll we'll go through cohorts. And we'll do them in specific locations, we bring in outside resources to help through the whole. You know, evaluation helped through things such as interviews, the stresses of interviews, filling out applications, doing things like that, so that we can create an environment for this fantastic pool of talent that's differently abled to come in and immerse themselves in their environments.

Unknown Speaker 5:29

Forgive me, I'm I know, embarrassingly little about neuro diversity. Can you How did you sort of identify these are unique projects, these individuals would be really valuable and qualified for was it sort of an across the board answer to to certain business problems? How did you sort of identify that this was going to be interesting solution for you?

Unknown Speaker 5:51

Well, what we looked at, across air, I candidate pools I guess it'd be the best way to say that is, we started seeing that, you know, people coming to us that may or may not fit the normal, or their traditional talent profile. So there's not a specific area, I think a lot of times in technology, we found that, you know, persons with with autism who are labeled with autism, the way that we identify that is, either they've been clinically labeled with that, or they self identify as that through however, whatever means that they need to, and, you know, we just go through taking away the social stressors, which creates a more unique environment for them to be successful for them to be very open, and communicate with us better. And once we figured that part out, we started finding that there was just a plethora of talent there, in all different areas, we have people come to us that are through neuro diversity through autism at work through, you know, our human resources and our recruiting departments, into our finance and to our marketing into ourselves, areas, and then also heavily into our technology areas as well. What do you mean by social stressors? So people with autism, you know, things such as noise or lights, or crowded rooms, or situations where they have to interact with with a great deal of people can can be triggers for them, right? And can, you know, unfortunately, have them shut down socially to where as the information is within them, but it's not being seen, right. So they're not communicating it? Well. They're not explaining it? Well. And, you know, during an interview process, we all know, that's a manipulated situation, right? Where we're asking questions, and we want you to know the answers and tell me about a time Well, what we find is that a lot of these candidates, if not most, have very little experience to pull from other than educational wise, and haven't been in those settings. So we we go outside of our organization, we work with some some firms, and some some partners who can help us who understand autism, who understand how to best work with people with autism, and how to get the most out of them. So once we were able to go through that part of have an interview, or have a situation or, or created an environment where people could could freely, you know, engage with us and have us engage with them, to figure out what they knew and where they would be the best. The best fit in the organization from a skill standpoint.

Unknown Speaker 8:36

Makes sense. There's kind of been this, I don't want to say movement, but I guess awareness on the part of art of management and certain certainly talent folks where you want to enable people to do their best work however that is for them. And normally, that looks like this person prefers to work from home or this person needs dead quiet. So we have a quiet section of our office. And so this means being able to look at those social stressors and how it could be arbitrary in an interview situation or in an office situation, that is kind of the inevitable conclusion of that allowing people to do their best work, right, just applied, you know, to the nth degree down to all the way through specific kinds of diversity.

Unknown Speaker 9:15

Absolutely in in, that's a great point to make. So not just for going out and finding a label on autism, that's not necessarily the goal. It's it's really just to look at talent completely different and when we talk about being bias, it's not just you know, gender specific gray specific or, or other specific labels that we have is it really brings it more to a more inclusive diversity solution and just, you know, honestly giving giving people an opportunity, providing a different path providing a different way thinking differently about people about talent, and overall, you know, how to really provide the opportunity. Yeah, absolutely.

Unknown Speaker 9:55

Forgive me if this is too in the weeds, but say, I am Same a recruiter listening to this. And I'm thinking, Okay, diversity isn't really important initiative at my organization, I hadn't considered this as an arm of diversity. How would I go out and source these kinds of people? There's actually

Unknown Speaker 10:12

some good programs out there. I don't specifically have the name of all those in front of me, Rob to provide but there's some there's some great resources out there, I think the first place that you can start is going to your state and local governments. They neurodiversity differently abled people are supported by a lot of state, local federal programs, things of that nature, you could reach out to those, you could also reach out to other there's there's a lot of companies that SAP is partnered with, we've partnered with hp with Microsoft with some others on having autism at work program. So there's, there's a lot of different avenues out there, I think just a quick web search would probably bring you tons of resources or reach out to people or companies that have programs, because we're very much about getting as many companies to do this as we possibly can.

Unknown Speaker 11:04

Sure. I gotta say, Tony, I as soon as I asked that question, I felt a little gross. Once I sort of heard it coming in my mouth, because I don't mean to. Sure to fetishize I guess, is the word and say, All right, let's specifically look for this group now. Because isn't that also a sort of bias? Is it? Is it better to have these specific goals for each sort of underrepresented group? Or is it better to actively work to create a hiring and work scenario in which anyone can thrive? Like, where's the sort of? riff there? I guess,

Unknown Speaker 11:42

right, I think I think your your, your point there is, is true in both instances. So I think ultimately, the ladder is where we want to get to, to where these things don't matter, right, where it doesn't matter or representation, there's no bias, and everyone's included. But in order to do that, you have to look at your population, you have to look at your talent, you have to look at what you look like. And unfortunately, a lot of times if we're not representing or giving, you know, providing opportunity, as I call it, that's really what diversity is. So So how we label diversity that maybe needs to change, it doesn't need to be specific based upon labels. But I think that there are groups that are underrepresented in a lot of organizations and a lot of companies and an understanding who's represented and who's not helps us understand truly what, you know, diversity or what bias is.

Unknown Speaker 12:34

Yeah, definitely. And, to your point, if you have a, if you're the makeup of your company is not representative, then maybe you do have to take specific goals to include certain groups. But say, you say you were to be like, Alright, we want to have X percent Latin x representation. So you hit that number, like, do you stop? Like, like, I know, right like that, that would continue. So is the goal to just have a company that represents the greater population of where you live? Or? It's Sorry? This is a bit like, I don't know, maybe it's utopian. But where's the? Where's like, the sweet spot?

Unknown Speaker 13:14

Yeah. So I would say the sweet spot is how we define diversity, right? So maybe, you know, to segue into really how we look at diversity. It's how you define it. So let's take anyone let's, let's take any person or any what we want to consider a label. So let's use females in engineering, right? People aren't diverse, because they're female. They're not diverse because of their gender. They're diverse because of the lack of the opportunity. I mean, plain and simple period, right? So if you take a group, let's, let's say we were talking about the females in engineering, at some point along the way, someone was provided an opportunity, and therefore they took advantage of that opportunity. They made the best of it, and they thrived. Now, at that point, maybe it's that fathers weren't coming home and talking to their daughters 20 years ago, or 30 years ago about becoming an engineer. Maybe they were talking to them about traditional roles or stereotype roles of being a nurse or being a teacher or being something else like that. Right? Or that that the opportunity wasn't there. And the same thing would go for autism at work and neuro diversity. people with autism aren't diverse because they have autism. They're diverse because no one's given them the same opportunity that someone else was, was doing that. So understanding that you have a diversity problem is is actually a solution. Right? That's how you become more inclusive. And the key really, is to you know, rethink and re engineer, your hiring practices, the way you interview, you know, are you giving a firm a talent acquisition perspective as we are the front line of attracting talent are we given Every one the feeling that that opportunity is available with us. Are we more inclusive? Are we effective? And are we able to replicate that? So that answers, the end of that question is, is that if we can replicate that, so if we bring in people, females, we bring in underrepresented minorities, we bring in a neuro diversity, differently abled people, things like that. It's, and we provide that opportunity. That's the solution in itself. And if we replicate that thing, guess what our, our interview panels don't look like a group of all this or all that. It's inclusive of a lot of different people and a lot of different experiences and a lot of different insights. And that helps us to really understand that and, and to be completely inclusive and effective.

Unknown Speaker 15:48

Okay, if it's a matter of opportunity, and then in the example of someone who grew up, not, not even realizing that as a specialized tech job was wasn't an option. Isn't that indicative that there's a bigger problem? And maybe in the in the form of education or specialization? Do talent teams? Do companies have an obligation to to point people to resources that they can use so that they can better attack those opportunities?

Unknown Speaker 16:24

I think so. Absolutely. You know, the role of a recruiter or let's use, let's not use recruiting, that's that's the art of filling jobs. But talent acquisition is a strategy which we do that I mean, it is the role of a recruiter to consult candidates. And I think what that is, is, as you look at we're trying to acquire talent, and you come to the question, Rob have, as as a recruiter working with, you know, obviously, there has to be a recruiter acquiring talent, and a hiring leader who's hiring talent is, let's look at is this the best person? Or is this the most qualified? Okay? The most qualified solves the immediate problem, the best person is, is, you know, sustains the the organization sustains the long term. And so as Todd acquisition specialist or recruiters, we help people find what their motivation is, is an intrinsic motivation, you know, really which, which I feel is what's most important, what does someone really want to do? How are they inclined? Are they mechanically inclined? Do they like numbers? Do they like doing things like that, and help them help them really figure out, you know, hey, there may be an opportunity. If we just looked at engineering alone, and let's use computer programming software development, there's not enough people period, we won't even say there's not enough talent, there's just not enough people period, to fill all the roles by by 2030, what's going to be needed with, you know, the, the cognitive revolution, you know, so for artificial intelligence and machine learning, there's not enough people. So, you know, how do you how do you create that gap? Do you continue to do what we're doing now? Or continue to do the same thing? Or do we try to do something different? And so I think recruiters have to push people in that direction and the art of having a conversation and selling a value proposition, it shouldn't be just for an open requisition or open job that a company may have, it has to be for the long term and for for people that are the best fit, not necessarily just the most qualified.

Unknown Speaker 18:29

Does SAP specifically have that kind of talent community that they support?

Unknown Speaker 18:34

Yeah, I think that is something that everyone is challenged with, you know, when when we look for talent, obviously, we're always looking for talent, we, you know, we speak to someone if they're not getting a fit for a particular role that that they've applied for, you know, is there something else in your organization that they may want to do or if this is something they really want to do, we can counsel them and help them. We have, we have leadership labs, so let's let's take from a sales perspective, we have sales academies, we have the ability for people to get involved and do things like that for early talent, you know, we bring people in through our intern Experience Program is called ISP. And we allow them to try a variety of different things. So we're always looking for the best talent now, do we succeed in all ways? Probably not. But I don't think anyone really does because we get reactive and what we're doing we have hiring leaders who want to you know immediately feel that pain or or fill that role so they can remove that pain and move on. But But you know, what we tried to do is we've tried to take this organically from grassroots and and work with our hiring leaders to start thinking differently about how they hire and how they think and what how they look at talent and and other ways to look at it other than just one in a reactive that solves the immediate problem.

Unknown Speaker 19:55

Yes, I'm glad you brought that up. Cuz you, you focus a lot on providing great customer experience and that that term to me was first of all nebulous. Does does that mean kind of how you sort of work your hiring manager diplomacy?

Unknown Speaker 20:14

I do. And what we do is we, we consider a job well done on off of off of customer experience. It's not necessarily time to feel or things of that nature, how many of this or how many of that, but what was that experience that a hiring leader had with a recruiter? What was that experience that a candidate had with that recruiter? and learn from that really, right? So we want to look at what we did well, we want to know what we didn't do? Well, I want to continuously get better at that each and every time.

Unknown Speaker 20:47

Gotcha. So in that case, where a hiring manager has that an immediate need, and we all wants to fill the role, of course, how do you kind of push back and say, you need to go slow to go fast?

Unknown Speaker 21:01

Yeah, we have to look at the big picture. So if this if this solves the problem, right, now, what about later? Is this a role that you know, someone who has everything you're looking for? Do they fit the long term? So as we're looking at 2020 2030 skills as technology changes? Is this role going to be around? Is it going to shift? Could you possibly see not needing this technology any longer? Does this person have additional technologies? Can they scale, can they move, you know, what really is the is the motivation for for the talent, and it's getting away from just being you know, based on on skills, and really looking at, at talent, right, and looking at, you know, everything from ramp times, you know, identify, you know, if the most qualified, you know, is is the most determined person, right? Are they are they are they here? Because they, you know, they want a job or just to work? Or do they, you know, are they interested in other things. So, it's, it's getting them to interview differently, it's getting them to think differently, and it's getting them to interact with talent. From a holistic standpoint, not just in pieces of of what I need right now.

Unknown Speaker 22:12

You would challenge the hiring managers then to think of candidates in terms of their lifetime with the company or hire as as in like, what will they what would a good hire look like? Two, three years down the road?

Unknown Speaker 22:25

Exactly. And, you know, I think what you can do in your organization is obviously, as as you're, you're, you're putting this type of strategy out, and you're having this type of influence with your hiring leaders, as you look at at pockets, where you're being very successful, which we have some of those, we have some leaders who will go out to the coding boot camps. And, and one of the main reasons they go to the coding boot camps is because they know that it's the intrinsic motivation and the determination people that they really want to do that. And they're finding a lot of success with that. So that's a model that we can show and replicate, not just give a speech, right and and say, Well, I think this is what you should do, but actually provide hard examples of where other people are being successful, doing those types of things.

Unknown Speaker 23:09

So then, is that something that any case of intrinsic motivator? Is that like a universal quality? Is that an SAP specific value that you've sort of instilled into the hiring process?

Unknown Speaker 23:19

I think it's a little bit of both. I think just by by nature, as you as you look at at talent in the world right now, how things are going and how talent is interacting with all of us. It has, it definitely has to become a core value that we look at here, and made it much more important. I think it's always existed. And I think some people have done a really good job hiring based upon that, and others maybe have not, but you know, as talent acquisition professionals, I think it's a, it's a huge opportunity for us to really, you know, become advisors to our business, and advise them how to make better hiring decisions that will last for the duration.

Unknown Speaker 24:01

Yeah, absolutely. So when it comes to these hiring decisions, the qualification that's happening, it's happening even before there's any sort of application, right as if you're if the in groups you're sourcing from the people who attend this, this coding boot camp, for example. Do you believe that this is a more indicative view of someone like what's the role of the resume in light of these other means of assessment that are going on all the time?

Unknown Speaker 24:30

Yeah, I think one of the things I know recruiting has to be perpetual, it can't stop. So if you look at functional disciplines across an organization, if you're if you're continuously you know, you understand your platform, you understand your coding languages, you understand yourself, you understand your marketing, finance, HR, whatever your platforms, what you're looking for, it has to be perpetual. You bring up the point of resumes. I you know, and I truly believe at some point that maybe within the next three Three to five years that that the traditional paper resume will be obsolete completely. And that's just a shift in artificial intelligence. What does that look like? Do you think? I think it looks like you would have basically a digital footprint, and everyone has one. So when you're looking across, you know, we we toss these paper resumes around, you know, continuously Well, you have things in a mayor now, such as GDPR. And the privacy rights where, you know, having and holding this information from a candidate, you know, you have to, you have to test their candidate, or anyone has the right to be forgotten to delete their data away. And then the other side of that is, is, you know, do you have a legitimate interest in how you're approaching people think of, I guess, the best way I would think of it is, is LinkedIn, right you have, everyone basically goes on and creates a social profile, that is essentially their resume. And I'm not saying that that will be the doctor, or whoever that will look, but in that fashion, that's where people will go, they won't, that, you know, recruiting will not be a transactional action as it is now, of, of, in some instances where people apply, you know, then then only those applied are vetted. But it'll be more of a model where, you know, people can apply automatically, they can we can look at Digital profiles, artificial intelligence, or create a complete digital footprint of what they're sharing publicly. And then the artificial intelligence and machine learning will essentially tell you from someone's digital footprint, you know, what their motivators are, what their lives, what their dislikes, based upon the employee population that you have, that are in these certain demographics that this person is going to essentially fit better culturally, then then this person, and I think a lot of that will be done, I think what will come become even more important, is ability for recruiters to, since sourcing, for all intents and purposes will be automated, it'd be even more important for the recruiter to be able to talk about value propositions, the ability to negotiate, actually, you know, get a candidate to see them as an employer of choice, so that that skill will become even more important.

Unknown Speaker 27:15

Yeah, definitely. that strikes me as one of the things that will never be automated, right? The ability to call up a candidate to hear their voice to hear how they're thinking about a role to negotiate to, to drill into those motivators, as you say. And when you said motivations, do you mean, the just the things they value as they assess a role? So like, do they value compensation, Career Mobility? Do they value, you know, lower commute time? like that kind of thing?

Unknown Speaker 27:44

Yeah, I think it'll, you know, I really believe in it happens now. And companies come after us now, with, you know, preferred ads based on our area code based on our zip codes, based on, you know, if we go into social media, and we're clicking on a particular product, we're more likely to get, you know, targeted by that company for their product. And I think the same thing is going to happen with employers. So as you've opted into a LinkedIn type of service, or for digital resume, a digital type of service, that artificial intelligence may see what your Facebook account is, what your Instagram, what your Twitter, the things that you're liking the things that you're talking about. So if you're, you know, tweeting about autism at work and trading about diversity, it may know that that's something that's of interest to you, and, you know, types of, you know, what we like what we share on social media, I think all that comes into play as to going towards that profile, seeing what someone's motivation is, what do they like, you know, what do they value are they you know, unfortunately, I think there's gonna be a lot of scary stuff, so to speak, that, that employers and companies are going to know about us but but artificial intelligence will take care of and create a profile on most people, and it'll it'll all be based off of public information.

Unknown Speaker 29:03

Yeah, definitely. Tony, this has been really, really fascinating. I could keep picking your brain afternoon but we have roles to fill in lives to live and podcast edit. So is there anything else you want to any words of wisdom as we as we close here that you want to impart upon our audience?

Unknown Speaker 29:21

Um, no, I just think that you know, for everyone to understand you know, we hear so much about automation and and things being completely automated. I don't think recruiting will ever town acquisition will never be automated. You know, it is a candidates market. You know, we've shifted from candidates from from from we interviewing candidates, to candidates, interviewing companies, and I think those of us that are willing to get out there and get in front of people and talk about and learn, talk about our value propositions, learn about the candidates and show genuine interest will help us all be more inclusive from a diversity standpoint. It'll help us be very effective and it'll help us replicate that strategy moving forward.

Unknown Speaker 30:05

I love it. Tony, this has been great. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you. talk down to me is brought to you by hired a double opt in global marketplace connecting the best fit active talent to the most exciting recruiting organizations. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help you find your next great hire, head to slash employers, and we'll get started

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