At the start of 2022, Homebot’s VP of People Operations Caroline Ellis, CEO Charlie Pratt and their team reflected on where their organization stood on DE&I practices and wanted to address any gaps. Homebot, a Denver-based real estate software business that was acquired in 2020 by Alpine Software Group (ASG), Alpine’s platform that buys and builds vertical SaaS businesses, was hiring more and more—and, like any growing business, needed to establish intentional practices if the company was going to continue building a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. At the time, the company hadn’t created standard processes around hiring, equity for promotions and evaluations of job performance—instead, job offers and promotions were made on gut feelings and didn’t follow specific timelines. Even if well-intended and carefully considered, the Homebot team realized an absence of standard practices meant unconscious biases could sneak into decision making.
So, the Homebot team made it a priority to establish and commit to three DE&I goals in 2022:
- Ensure that every candidate is being interviewed fairly and consistently at Homebot. Leaders understand their biases and know how to interview inclusively.
- Ensure that every employee knows how to create and foster an environment of inclusivity and belonging.
- Create processes of equity for promotions and evaluations of job performance.
To create these goals, Ellis, Pratt and their team thought carefully on defining these terms and deciding on which actions would be most effective to reach these goals. Ellis also consulted with Alpine’s Head of DEI Divya Gopal on best practices to make any initiatives successful.
Equitable Interviewing 101
In June 2022, hiring managers at Homebot participated in a standardized hiring program that trained all interviewers on best practices for interviewing fairly and consistently, which included data-driven and unbiased evaluations of candidates. Over the course of 5 days, it took participants 10 hours of live training time plus an additional 1 hour of homework and quizzes to complete the program.
As part of designing the training, Ellis consulted with Alpine’s talent team and its “Hiring A-Players” Playbook to receive guidance on writing a measurable job description. As taught in this hiring rubric, employers create job scorecards with clear, measurable attributes that help the interviewer narrow down exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate.
“The Hiring A-Players Playbook impactfully helped us to remove bias and think about the measurable attributes we’re looking for in a candidate. So even if the interviewer really likes the interviewee as a person in an interview, but they don’t quite meet what the job rubric is measuring—it’s easier to identify that we need to keep moving to find the best person for the job,” says Ellis.
After another round of the program in September, over 45 Homebot employees underwent the hiring training in 2022 and Homebot received a perfect NPS* score of 100 after the training—meaning in a survey of all of those who underwent the training, all participants had a positive experience doing so.
“We believe Alpine’s method of focusing on attributes over experiences has a direct line to equitable and inclusive hiring practices,” says Pratt. “Not everybody has the same opportunities to build up their resume. So, if you instead focus on the core DNA of the person, in conjunction with meeting the requirements of some baseline experiences, that can really change the game for finding a diversity of talent while driving better business outcomes.”
Fostering an Inclusive Workplace
Getting a diversity of folks hired into roles is only the first step, and the next important initiatives at Homebot centered around creating an inclusive workplace. The company partnered with LifeLabs Learning, a leadership training company, to deliver bias training and workshops that resulted in 114 Homebot employees learning their biases and how to be more inclusive.
Rethinking Performance Evaluation and Promotions
Similar to the work that was done around hiring practices, Homebot established timelines and processes around its promotions and performance evaluations so more calls are made on measurable outcomes rather than on gut instinct by a manager. Homebot moved to a promotions cycle that happens once a year, or when there’s a business necessity like an internal role needing to be filled after someone departs. Doing so has helped evaluations feel fairer to the entire team. Today, the Homebot team is made up of 18% underrepresented races (an increase from 13% mid-year) and its leadership team is made up of 43% women.