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In Conversation: Charles Rue, Head Of Talent Acquisition, IHS Markit

Hire IQ by HackerEarth: Charles Rue

Hire IQ by HackerEarth is a new initiative in which we speak with recruiters, talent acquisition managers, and hiring managers from across the globe, and ask them pertinent questions on the issues that ail the tech recruiting world. For this first edition, we spoke with Charles Rue, Head of Talent Acquisition (EMEA), at IHS Markit. Diversity and inclusion are topics close to Charles’ and his work is a reflection of his efforts to make the tech world a bigger better place for coders of all backgrounds. So, it was a given that the topic of choice for this conversation would be related to DE&I.

Read on!

HackerEarth: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the hiring world. 

Charles: After a previous life in management consulting, I started my career in recruitment in Japan, which is a great training ground for a recruiter as it is a market where professionals tend to be loyal to their employer, and are therefore extremely difficult to dislodge, especially for roles at foreign firms. After heading the Financial Services practice there for nine years, I relocated to Hong Kong where I successively set up a new desk for an executive search firm, opened the local office for a global recruitment firm specialized in Financial Services, and finally joined the recruitment function of a large global bank via their RPO partner. There, I gained considerable experience in large scale, complex recruitment campaigns, in areas such as Retail and Corporate Banking, Asset Management, Insurance and the full spectrum of Digital Transformation.

This last experience gave me the opportunity to later on join IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions, and head their EMEA recruitment function.

HackerEarth: As a talent acquisition leader, when did you start to understand the importance of creating diverse teams? Are there any real-life examples you can share with us?

Charles: At an early stage in my career, I was aware that diverse teams can tackle challenges much more effectively due to the richness of perspectives, especially in complex, changing environments. The real battle was convincing my clients when I was working on the agency side because their candidate assessment methods were not robustly documented or consistent. Assessment bias was rife, and what was expected from external recruitment agencies was essentially reinforcement, where interviewers and decision makers with already developed opinions were selectively incorporating information that supported their own views. Later, when I was in-house, it was easier to influence stakeholders.

I recall a specific example where our recruitment teams focused on restoring the gender balance of a financial services sales team. During the following year, work environment indicators went up, positive client feedback was more numerous, collaboration increased, and revenue went up. That small-scale example helped develop awareness among the leadership team.

HackerEarth: IHS Markit has been in the industry for a long while. Could you shed some light on how the hiring policies have changed/evolved at the company vis-a-vis DE&I?

Charles: Openness has been at the center of IHS Markit company culture. While Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have underpinned our corporate strategy and the way we want to hire and develop our people, we certainly have developed a more structured approach in recent years. For example, we have enhanced our list of D&I partners to help us better understand and connect with under-represented candidate pools.

Our recruiting tool combines artificial intelligence and neuroscience to assist in removing unconscious bias during screening. On top of that, we have developed our own internal interviewing framework called the IHS Markit Way to help ensure consistent interview questions and that everyone is being assessed against the same unbiased criteria by a diverse panel. Finally, on the Early Careers front, we have added D&I organizations SEO London and Wall Street Bound as our main candidate sourcing partners during our 2020-2021 Intern and Graduate recruiting campaign.

Also Read: How To Increase Your Diversity Hiring ROI

HackerEarth: What do you think are the top 3 mistakes that companies new to diversity hiring make when formulating policies?

Charles: There are quite a few pitfalls when looking at improving diversity in the workforce. The first one is not getting  genuine support from the top leadership team. That’s paramount. Hiring Managers will sense quickly if the company’s diversity goals are hollow or if there are real consequences for not supporting diversity in every hiring decision. Leaders must be 100% committed to the company’s diversity objectives, and keep communicating about their commitment internally and externally.

The second pitfall is missing the data. Diversity data is the very first step before a situation can be understood, and corresponding diversity goals can be set. Not collecting the right data, and compiling the data in effective dashboards is like shooting in the dark. It will frustrate teams and slow down adoption. A third pitfall is not asking help from diversity professionals. I think it is a common mistake as most HR and Recruitment functions tend to think that tweaking policies and buying assessment tools will single-handedly drive a more diverse workforce.

This approach is totally missing the cornerstone of an effective diversity strategy: diversity attraction, which can be translated into ‘how to transform a company to make it really inclusive?’, and ‘how to connect with underrepresented populations, and develop the right role proposition that will lead to an application?’ This is where specialized organizations can provide guidance on inclusiveness, and also leverage their extensive network within underrepresented populations.

HackerEarth: A question that we love asking everybody:  Skills vs. Diversity – which one would you choose and why?

Charles: I genuinely don’t think we should have to make this choice. We should aim for both. If we can’t find both in a given market, companies should then go for diversity and then develop programs that will create skills internally. This is what we are doing at IHS Markit through our Early Careers recruitment programs.

We partner with specialized organizations and make sure our hiring outcomes fully support our diversity goals. Candidates for Internships and Graduate positions are assessed using consistent methods, against four role profiles. We select candidates who exhibit specific attributes and show growth potential. Our cohorts are nurtured so that required skills can be grown, while all the time we never had to negotiate on diversity.

HackerEarth: Have you come across D&I initiatives from various companies that have wowed you, and why do you think they work? (Examples can be AirBnB’s WeAccept campaign, or Salesforce’s equality groups). 

Charles: BlackRock has created many positive D&I initiatives including the organization of their MOSAIC employee network, or the use of a Rare Contextual Recruitment System for early career recruitment in the United Kingdom. The latter recognizes that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper. Using the Rare Contextual Recruitment System allows BlackRock to see beyond an online application to better understand the circumstances in which each applicant’s achievements have been gained.

From BlackRock’s perspective, this process enables the firm to identify the best talent from all backgrounds. Deutsche Bank also has done interesting things in the area of gender diversity. Deutsche has won an award for its global sponsorship program ATLAS, which helps women progress to senior positions.

HackerEarth: Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter decided to start publishing an annual diversity hiring report in 2014. That was the first time that tech companies publicly acknowledged the diversity gap in their workplaces and vowed to change hiring practices. 

Seven years later, there is only a marginal increase in diversity numbers at these companies. In your opinion, what are these companies:

  1. Doing well
  2. Doing wrong and how can they better it

Charles: Clearly the situation has not improved much. I’ve read recently that the proportion of US technical employees (coders, engineers, and data scientists) at some of these firms who are black or Latinx hasn’t risen since 2014. It seems however that the proportion of women has progressed, though no company is close to parity yet.

On the ‘plus’ side, all of these firms have made large investments into various education programs to encourage more women and minorities to consider tech, to help address a legacy of underrepresentation. On the ‘minus’ side however, all of these firms are growing, and are in need of much more under-represented candidates than they used to be, while attrition for these very same under-represented populations is clearly much higher than average.

Basically, despite all their investments, tech companies still haven’t addressed biases in their cultures, promotion criteria, and the broader issue of inclusion and belonging. These items will need to be on their agenda if they want to make an impact on their own D&I goals.

HackerEarth: There is a lot of talk about data-driven recruiting. When it comes to diversity hiring, what are the metrics you think talent acquisition managers should live or die by?

Charles: Purely from a talent acquisition perspective, there should really be three diversity metrics:

  • the first one measuring whether proportions of job applicants are reflective of the local population’s diversity mix (gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, etc.),
  • the second measuring whether the same diversity mix is eventually hired locally,
  • and the third measuring whether retention levels are consistent across populations, including women, minorities or under-represented ethnicities.

All three metrics should be measured at country level, across role levels, and department, so that data aggregation does not hide a local diversity issue. These three metrics will uncover attraction gaps and hiring/promotion bias, and should lead to a more accountable diversity strategy.

HackerEarth: Let’s end this with a tip (or two) for recruiters/talent acquisition managers who would like to amp up diversity hiring in their companies..

Charles: First, talk to your firm’s top leadership team and secure their commitment to taking responsibility for building an inclusive hiring process. Leaders should communicate their commitment to the principles of Diversity to the rest of the firm.

Second, work with your HR Analytics team and start measuring team diversity ratios before setting achievable targets.

Third, take concrete action by writing inclusive Job Adverts (the Gender Decoder tool is free!), advertising job adverts on diversity friendly job boards, actively reaching out on LinkedIn to underrepresented candidates, and by assessing candidates using objective and consistent methods.

Fourth, talk to professional D&I organizations that will help you refine and structure your approach. They have seen it all, and will help save a lot of time.


About Charles Rue:

Charles brings with him a decade and a half of recruitment experience at notable companies like HSBC, EamesCharles Rue, IHS Markit Consulting, and the Michael Page Group. He has been with IHS Markit since 2019 and is a champion of diversity and inclusion in the tech space.

Charles has more than 16 years of recruitment experience in the EMEA and APAC region, developing an expertise in volume (Experienced and Graduate) and senior to executive level permanent hiring in the Banking, Data, Digital, Insurance, Fintech, Asset Management and Payment Solutions sectors. Prior to joining IHS Markit, Charles was responsible for the delivery of large recruitment volumes for HSBC in Hong Kong.

Charles has been involved in a broad range of recruitment performance improvement projects and D&I initiatives in various setups, from external recruitment agencies, to RPO and in-house environments.


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