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How to avoid being geographically exclusionary when hiring

Someone on Twitter was recently promoting a job vacancy. I followed it, and not because I’m interested in a new role but because I’m curious as to how other companies do hiring.

Now, I’m not going to mention, or link to, the company involved but what I saw wasn’t uncommon.

The role is for somebody to provide WordPress support, so similar to my own at WordPress VIP. Here’s the key opening line of the job description…

Location: Remote.

And, just to confirm things they also state…

we are open to worldwide applicants

But scroll down and it quickly starts to go wrong. Here is a list of the benefits they offer…

Some of those benefits are entirely US-centric – e.g. “Employee 401k”. I have no idea what it is. And a lot of the others – parental leave, paid time off, etc. – would not get anyone interested in the UK as they are a requirement with any full time employment.

The company is offering US targeted benefits whilst, apparently, looking to hire anywhere. Now, I don’t think they’re doing this on purpose but this is an exclusionary practice. I’ve written about this before as geographical exclusion is rampant, albeit often a part that’s forgotten about.

And, indeed, there are other examples too, all within the same hiring page. If I was initially interested, this would put me off – how welcome would I truly be as someone outside the US?

But, as I say, this is everywhere.

Let’s compare this to the Automattic benefits page

All the benefits listed there are generic and apply to everyone. And then, at the end, it states “Automattic’s benefits can vary by location. See our benefits based on where you are in the world“. And, if you follow that link, you get a list of benefits listed by geographic location, taking into account local differences.

Now, this isn’t related to hiring but struck me, recently, as another great example of where this issue. I was reading the book Where Wizards Stay Up Late. It’s about the history of the internet and it’s a really good book. However, at multiple points it makes reference to an upcoming date in terms of how far it is from “Labor Day”. As a non-US resident, I have no idea when that date is – is it days, weeks or months away from the point in time they’re referring to? Is this a tight deadline or a really easy one? The context and nuance of what they’re trying to communicate has been lost.

As the pandemic has made people realise more and more that remote working can work for then, hiring for these types of roles is only going to increase. Searching for employees from anywhere in the world can vastly improve the quality of your hiring, as you have such a larger pool to choose from. And, if your customers are from all around the world too, the benefits multiply (matching timezones, knowledge of local customs, language experts, etc.). So, make sure your hiring is appropriate with geographically inclusionary language that makes everyone, everywhere, feel welcome.

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