We've performed a comprehensive assessment of our current hiring practices through the lens of racial equity, and identified gaps where we need to be doing more. Based on studies showing that unconscious bias prevents diverse candidates from being hired, we’ve set a target for 66% diverse representation in final round interview stages to offset that bias. This target has already successfully spurred us to increase diverse representation in the beginning stages of recruiting for open roles, with the aim of leading to balanced, unbiased decision-making at the end of the process. And, to make sure our own unconscious bias doesn’t get in the way, we have rolled out interview bias training for team members.
While ramping up our diversity sourcing efforts was a clear place to start, we needed better data to form a comprehensive understanding of how diverse candidates were moving through the hiring process so that we could better prioritize our efforts. To that end, we have started collecting demographic data at the application stage. We replaced standard EEOC questions with more inclusive messaging that was honed with the input of many Square Roots team members representing diverse backgrounds. We are also seeking partnerships with relevant job boards and professional organizations geared towards underrepresented talent, which can serve our unique hiring needs as a technology-enabled company in the indoor agriculture industry. There is so much more we can still do here, but these are the first steps.
To ensure technology equity through the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted a technology audit and made sure that all employees have the right tech to be successful in their roles, plus a stipend to offset the cost of remote connectivity. These stipends are available to all hourly employees and can be used toward cell phone bills or home internet bills to ensure they can reliably work on the farm, on the go, or from home.
Early this summer, we identified the need to bring in perspectives not represented by our team. We also determined that this work would be most successful with the support of an impartial third party with expertise in this field. In early Q1 2021, we began working with the McKensie Mack Group (MMG), a global consulting group that helps organizations identify and transform social inequities at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional level. They specialize in change management that focuses specifically on racial equity, gender equity, and LGBTQ2IA+ communities. The MMG team is conducting a Racial Equity and Belonging Audit to help us identify and address challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us in this work to fully incorporate diversity, inclusion, and equity practices into our culture
Benefits and Compensation
We reviewed benefits and compensation across the company and enhanced our offerings, specifically with hourly employees in mind. All hourly employees are paid a living wage, are eligible for time-and-a-half overtime, and accrue paid time off, and all full-time employees receive full company-paid benefits and equity in the company.
Additionally, we’re building out an internal structure for roles across the company to provide employees transparency into the core competencies needed to receive promotions and raises.
In October, we implemented a policy for volunteer paid time off (separate from existing PTO). This new policy is available to all Square Roots employees, to give team members the time and flexibility to make a difference in their local communities. One example of an organization employees have volunteered with is Urban Roots in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Education & Empowerment
We have implemented learning and development programs across the organization, with training that includes leadership, creating a more inclusive workplace, and more. We will continue to make sure our entire team is involved in these efforts.
We’ve launched a number of Employee Affinity Groups to represent racial and gender identities across Square Roots to create a space of belonging and community for all employees, and a channel for advocating for the needs of these groups.
Team members have been encouraged to vote in local, state, and federal elections by taking advantage of Square Roots’ paid time off policy for voting. In October, the DEI team hosted a virtual non-partisan info session on voting rights, specific to the states in which we operate, to encourage civic participation.