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How Remote Work Helped Us Unlock a Large, Diverse Talent Pool

Posted on 
September 7, 2022
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart
How Remote Work Helped Us Unlock a Large, Diverse Talent Pool

At Interview Kickstart, we share our similarities and celebrate our differences. 

The core values we stand for — “Be an owner” and “Don’t be a jerk” — truly represent our similarities. That said, the differences are just as significant. Diverse minds from diverse backgrounds and experiences come together to contribute to our passion and the collective goal of helping people uplevel in their careers. 

But how do we manage to have a diverse workforce and celebrate our differences? Let’s find out!

If you want to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, diversity can’t be an afterthought. We need structures and policies conducive to diversity built into the foundation of the organisation to nurture employees and motivate them to contribute their best. 

In other words, diversity can’t be the icing on the cake. It needs to be the ingredient added to the cake mix before baking it.

At IK, we realized this early on. We built diversity and inclusivity into our culture since Day 1, with welcoming structures and processes in place. This has enabled employees to feel comfortable and happy while working and give their best to our students ( our customers). 

With this approach, we have been able to attract diverse professionals from potent talent pools, such as:

Let’s jump right in and look at how a remote system that naturally supports diversity helped us attract talent in these three groups.

Talent From Tier-2 and Tier-3 Cities

We have one rule — if you have the right skills and are self-motivated, we have a place for you in our remote culture. That’s why all our open roles are location-agnostic and based on talent alone. We’ve found many super talented folks from tier-2 and tier-3 cities of India:

  • 19.5% of our team works from tier-3 cities in India
  • 45.7% of our women employees are located in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India

Our employees have the option of staying in their hometowns to care for their older parents instead of living in tier-1 cities where most jobs are concentrated. With remote, we’re able to help these talented people earn tier-1 city salaries while giving them the flexibility to be caregivers.

Remote has helped us unearth these gems, who otherwise would have likely been restricted to the opportunities available locally. 

Naresh, SEO Manager at IK, lives in a small town in Andhra Pradesh, India. While his siblings work in the metro cities of the country, he chose to stay back to take care of his parents.

“At IK, I have an amazing career with uncompromised family time with my parents. Despite being miles away from most of my team members, I have never felt that way. The regular game nights and team activities help us stay connected.” 

- Naresh, SEO Manager

Moms on a Career Break

In most cases, women have to make a conflicting and stressful choice between family and career. Because of the structural inconsistencies in how most companies are set up, women are forced to leave the workforce, being primary caregivers to their children, older parents, and in-laws. 

When we access a candidate’s experience & talent, we choose to skip the part when they were on a career break and only focus on what they did while they weren’t. Women on a career break because of childbirth often have ten years of experience, if not more, and that’s incredibly valuable for a company like ours that’s on a growth mission. 

– Ryan Valles, Co-founder Interview Kickstart.

Some facts: 

  • Women comprise half of the population
  • Women tend to do the majority of the household and caretaking work
  • The pressures of COVID led many women out of the workforce

The financial situation of individual families, businesses, and the society at large will improve significantly as more and more women get the opportunity to learn, work, and earn. 

As a business, we acknowledge and understand the importance of this. We have used remote to unlock the potential of this talent pool and bring more women back into the workforce. 

In a remote company, especially with a trusting and ownership-based culture like ours, women employees have flexibility in the way they utilize and compatmentalize their time for work and family. We trust them to get their job done. That’s why we don’t have an attendance tracking system, and we don’t track screen time. That’s the flexibility women (and other genders) at IK have

Ankita Arora, an HR Associate at IK, joined us in November 2021 after a 10-year career break. Before her break, she had worked in the tech space for 6 years.

“In 2011, when my maternity break was coming to an end, I was excited to start working again. With a daycare facility available in the office I worked at then, getting back seemed doable. Or so I thought! 

Soon, I found myself running between my desk and the daycare facility. Living in Mumbai, I spent 2 hours commuting to and from the office each day with a distressed, howling baby in the car. Without the option of working from home and with no family to support me in the city, the ambitious woman in me took a back seat, and I decided to take a career break. 

But miracles do happen! Ten years later, I joined IK. Today, I can take my kids to their swimming lessons and work in my favorite spot at home — on my lounger. I can work without ever missing an experience with my children. That’s the flexibility that a completely remote job gives moms like me.”

 – Ankita Arora, HR Associate

Top International-Customer-Facing Talent

Like many BPOs and companies with customers outside India, we have hundreds of students (customers) in the US enrolled with us at a given time. To serve them, our support and customer success teams work the night hours. 

Being remote and having set up robust systems to talk to our customers from thousands of miles away, we have made unnecessary travel-related overheads obsolete. 

Our employees:

  • Do not need to spend time and money traveling to and from work 
  • Have no reason to worry about traveling safely from work at night in unsafe neighborhoods
  • Have more time for rest, hobbies, and self-care

All these benefits, coupled with our high hiring bar, have helped us attract and hire India’s best international sales and support talent.

Our sales and customer success teams have the most number of women employees and women candidates applying to open positions.

“Being married to a defense officer turns you into a nomad that no company wants. Every two years, I packed my bags to move to a new city or a small town. I joined IK after a career break of 5 years. Here, I don’t worry about being out of work every time my husband gets posted to a new location.” 

Richa Gautam, Customer Success Associate at Interview Kickstart

With remote, Ankita, Richa, and other employees at IK have: 

  • More time for self-care, childcare, and family responsibilities  
  • No travel time, travel costs, or travel safety concerns, and no traffic exhaustion to recover from
  • More flexibility to easily balance and integrate work and life
  • The option to travel to different locations: to parents, in-laws, cafes, and friends for extended periods, and work from anywhere in the world with just an internet connection

What Has Diversity Resulted in at IK? 

Unlocking a diverse talent pool has allowed us to: 

  • Have women constitute 35.1% of our workforce, with HR & Talent Acquisition (64%), Operations (54%), Finance (50%) and Program Management (50%) leading the way.
  • Build teams that can think in different directions to come up with different solutions and have healthy debates. That’s a direct result of having diverse experiences in the workforce
  • Handle diverse problems a business faces owing to the robustness we have in the face of ambiguity and accelerating growth. Such robustness can only be a result of a team with diverse strengths
  • Help hundreds of software engineers every day to build better careers 

We realize that to further our mission of being the World’s Largest Career Accelerating Platform, used by a diverse group of people, we need diverse life experiences, thoughts, visions, and strengths; and that’s precisely what we’ve found within our team!