Office Hours: I'm the Director of Recruitment Ops and ED&I at R/GA and have 17+ years of experience in People Management, Talent Ops, ED&I, and Recruitment. I'm Daniela Herrera. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas! I'm Daniela Herrera, Director of Recruitment Ops and ED&I at R/GA. I have 17+ years of experience in Talent Operations, Recruitment, Leadership, and People Management.

Among many other things, I'm also a Speaker; an ED&I Expert for the NASA Astrophysics IDEA Practitioners Database; an ERG Leader; an Operations Volunteer at ALPFA; and one of the co-founders of Allies in Recruiting.

Before R/GA, I was a Recruiter in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Back then, I was already trying to implement Diversity Recruiting and Inclusive Hiring Practices, even though I didn't know that ED&I was "a thing"!

But, you know what? I actually started my working career when I was 15 years old, by tutoring kids in my neighborhood! I later studied (and dropped off!) to become a teacher, taught English at schools, started and dropped off a translation career, worked at a call center, and did a quick stint as an Executive Assistant. I really didn't know what "a career" was until I fell into Recruitment. Until then, I really thought that jobs were just jobs.

I was born and raised in a very humble home in Buenos Aires, and even though my parents didn’t finish highschool, they always pushed me to learn, read, and study. So much so, that I started my bilingual journey by manually translating songs using a tiny dictionary (spoiler alert: that's not how it works!).

Fast forward to today, I've been in NYC for the last 7 years. When I'm not reading and geeking out, I'm probably working, writing, volunteering, playing video games, walking my dog, or catching up with the latest TV shows and movies.

My experience and points of view have been previously published in Forbes, Business Insider, HR Brew, The Drum, Diario La Nacion, and so many others! I've also had the privilege to speak at local and international events, including SXSW, Lesbians Who Tech, Techqueria, Manifest Equity, Disrupt HR, Hacking HR, among others.

Ask me anything about DEI, inclusive and equitable Recruitment, people ops, inclusive leadership, creating inclusive cultures, supporting immigrants in the workplace, elevating Latinas, finding your own career path, mentoring others, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @DaniHerrera!Elphas – please ask @DaniHerrera your questions before Friday, March 24th. @DaniHerrera may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
THANK YOU so much for having me! We'll get started in just a few minutes 🥰
Daniela it is so nice to meet you, thank you so much for being here with us this week. You have such a rich experience and certainly a very global one. One thing that I have been thinking a lot about is the usage of tests by companies either after candidates send their apps and they use it as a first screen or after the first screener calls. Usually these tests are intelligence-based test to see how you would approach problems. The issue is for people who are not great at taking tests (could be due to a myriad of reasons including learning disabilities, or neurodivergence etc), it is not a good representation of their abilities. At the same time, I understand that companies see a lot of candidates and may have to filter to pick the right fit. What do you think? Should companies continue with administering tests to hire people or stop the practice? If the latter what are alternatives?FYI there was a discussion about it here on Elpha
Hi @iynna, thank you so much for this question!Alright, the TLDR answer to this question is: I hate tests, exercises, or case studies during an interview process! I would very much like to see this practice skyrocket to the sun and quickly! Now, let’s tackle the longer - and more constructive - answer! 🙃I simply and honestly believe these tests are counterproductive from an ED&I perspective (and a recruitment one!). I especially believe they are counterproductive when done at the very beginning of the process, even before the candidate has learned more about the role, the company, and the culture. And without giving the candidate a chance to request reasonable accommodations! As you mentioned, these tests are often discriminatory and exclusionary toward neurodiverse candidates, candidates with disabilities, candidates that don’t have the time to take a test, candidates that don’t have the equipment needed to do so at home, candidates that are actively looking for a new job and interviewing with multiple companies, candidates that didn’t have the privilege to receive interview training or mentorship, and so many other peeps!There’s a lot of data out there that shows how candidates simply drop off from interview processes - even when and if they’re a match for the role - simply because they were asked to take a test. Listen, I’d do the same!So, what to do instead?- Take a moment to reflect on why you need to see a test result: Is it because you want to see if they know the answer to a specific question? You can ask that question during an interview! Do you want to see if the candidate can present in front of a hybrid team? Ask them to present something they already have instead of asking them to build something new just for your interview process! Is it because you only want to meet candidates that match specific criteria? Work with your recruiters so they can identify those for you or include a few knockout questions in the application form!- Invest in training your Recruiters and Interviewers to assess whether a candidate matches the role in the same way (or better!) a random test would.0 If, for whatever reason, a test is absolutely needed, make sure you’re compensating your candidates for their time and effort. Treat these tests as a freelance project. I hope this helps!
Daniela, Thank you so much for bringing your wealth of experience.As we know: recruiters are the gatekeepers for getting into later interview stages/possibly getting a job offer. I recently did not pass a recruiter screen for a role with which both my work experience and skills match very well; during the phone call itself it seemed as if the recruiter didn't believe the specifics of my experiences and abilities. A few days later: I got the email that they'd decided to "move forward with other candidates."Afterwards: my partner noticed that the recruiter had interacted positively with a racist, anti-Muslim LinkedIn post. I check a few of the boxes on the URM side (Latina with what is very clearly a Hispanic name, over 40, etc.) Because I suspect that I may not have been advanced due to some components of my identity, I reached out to the person who had referred me for the role, noting my concerns. She has escalated this and they're taking it seriously, it seems.The question: how does the DEIB team at a company make sure that the pipeline is allowing URM candidates through it, when the recruiter is a contract/non-internal recruiter?
Hi, @Hailey205. Thank you so much for sharing that experience with me. I’ll try to answer your question in multiple parts. I hope that’s ok.First, I'm sorry to hear you had such an awful recruitment experience. My industry, as a whole, needs to do better. Ad yes, Recruiters (sometimes) are gatekeepers. I wish I could tell you that's not the case, but it is. I've met many recruiters who still adhere to outdated and discriminatory norms! I've seen Recruiters pass on a candidate because of typos on a resume because they didn't like the resume format or because they didn't think the candidate wouldn't be a good match for the role without much explanation. It's shameful, really. BUT, you'd be surprised to learn that, in most cases, the gatekeeping trickles down from the Hiring Manager. As a candidate, you'll never get to see the behind-the-scenes, but usually, Hiring managers have a very specific (and biased!) idea of what "the perfect candidate" looks like for them, and they'll communicate those details to the Recruiter. Unfortunately, these details won't appear in the job description, but they are there! I've seen Hiring Managers asking to only see candidates coming from one particular school, or with a specific interest or hobby (so they'd get along better with the client), or candidates who wear a specific brand of sneakers (which, in their mind represented a sign of "cultural fit"), and so many other random, and very discriminatory, requests. With all this said, it looks like this wasn't the case for you! It really looks like this Recruiter was just an awful person and I'm happy to hear this company is taking action to remedy the situation. Ok, back to your question!Usually, ED&I teams work closely with recruitment to ensure a "diverse pipeline of candidates." Each company has its own process here. Some might establish a "diversity pipeline goal," others might intentionally partner with organizations to diversify their pipelines, and others might tackle systemic issues like inequalities and inequities in the interview process. And for contract Recruiters, the best practice is to include a "diverse pipeline" clause in the contract and hold those external recruiting teams to the same standards you would your own internal team. I usually bring up the topic during the discovery call, and I ask about the sources they use to find talent what training the teams have received; and I also ask to learn more about their processes, questions they ask, and general practices. I only move forward if I really believe they take diverse pipelines seriously.
Thank you so much for this answer!
Of course! I’m happy to hear you found this helpful :)
Hi Daniela! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Your expertise and experience are invaluable, particularly during these extremely competitive times in the job market. I have a few questions regarding transitioning into HR/People Operations and DEI from a different industry. While I have experience in sales coordination and administrative support, my passion lies in assisting others and promoting DEI.1. What steps should I take to apply for entry-level positions in HR Generalist or People Operations, considering that I lack direct previous experience in these roles?2. In the meantime, are there any skills that I can develop to increase my chances of getting my foot in the door?Thank you again!
Hi, @sageoiachiles. Thank you for joining me today!Let’s tackle your question in parts, shall we?You might not have “direct HR/People Ops experience” but I’m sure you have lots of transferable skills that would be extremely helpful for those roles. So, I’d focus on creating a resume that highlights all those skills! If you don’t know where to start, it’s always a good idea to find a few job descriptions for the roles you’re interested in, and identify the skills you already have so you can include them on your resume. Next step, update your LinkedIn profile! Make sure you’re signaling that you’re really interested on those roles, and again, highlight those transferable skills you have. Also, make sure you’re engaging and following with other HR Generalists’ content.About skills to develop, it really depends on the roles you’re trying to apply for and the skills you already have (you’ll get a clearer picture when you read/study a few job descriptions!) but in the meantime, if you have the time and energy, I’d recommend volunteering so you can gain hands-on experience. For example, I’m an Operations Volunteer at ALPFA! Volunteer-led ED&I and community-focused organizations are always looking for help! (and you can add them to your resume too!)Hope that helps :)
These are a tremendous help, thank you! I'll definitely be utilizing all of these tips in my new and improved job search.
Hi! I just learned about an Operations Volunteer opportunity at a ED&I community that's getting started :) Feel free to DM me and I can share what I know!
Best of luck and keep us posted!
Hi Dani! Thanks so much for dedicating your time ✨I have a few thoughts and Q's I'd love to hear your opinion on: as a daughter of parents that immigrated to the US for a better life, I often feel like I owe them so much and that it drives me towards trying to be as inclusive and socially-impact driven as possible. Is this something you've experienced in terms of a humble upbringing being a motivator? And if so, how do you reconcile the feelings of wanting to have as much of an impact as possible while also having compassion for yourself and bandwidth?
Thank you, @MichelleFuentes. I’m super excited to be here!Yes, to everything you just said! As an immigrant, I can understand what your parent went through, and I can relate to your experience as well. I know what it’s like to want to do as much as you can to give back to your community, family, and friends. It’s an ongoing and never-ending type of feeling!And sometimes it’s really hard to balance it all out. Personally, I want to make as big of an impact as I can - so others with a similar background to mine can also have access to the opportunities and privileges I benefited from - but sometimes, I just don’t have the time, energy, or funding to do so.I try to make an impact wherever and whenever I can. I volunteer my time and experience with and for organizations that understand I can’t be on 24/7, I set clear boundaries about what I can and can’t do (and when!), I openly share my knowledge and expertise on social media so peeps can access that content when and where they want to without adding more pressure to my already collapsing schedule. But, I also fail at it too! My LinkedIn inbox is a nightmare - I have about 500 unread messages in there! My personal inbox is in shambles, I sometimes take too long to get back to my friends and family over text, my physical health needs a bit of TLC, and the list goes on!So, it’s really a physical and emotional balancing act, for sure.
Hola Daniela! It is nice to meet you. What do you think are the cultural difference in a place like Buenos vs a place like NYC?
Hola, @Leana188, gracias por venir!So, my first cultural shock when I first got here was getting used to not kissing everyone on the cheek!To this day, 7 years later, I still find it so strange when - after having spent time with friends or colleagues - we just walk our separate ways without a cheek kiss! Like, that still looks rude to me?!?!?!?!?! 😅 And then, when I go back home to visit, and everybody says hi/bye with a kiss, I’m just like, woah! What are you doing?!?!?!?! Leaving that aside, the biggest and most beautiful difference is how Diverse NYC is! New York hosts residents from 200+ different countries and they speak over 300+ different languages! That’s not something we see in Buenos Aires (yet!)
Hello @DaniHerrera! Your experience is so amazing! I would like to further talk to you about my side project MujerUP and see how we can join efforts to inspire more Latinas adult women
What tactics are you seeing successful companies use to not only hire more diverse talent but retain and ensure pay equity over time?
Hi @KrissyHeld thank you for your question!The best way to attract, interview, hire, and retain talent is to intentionally take the time to study, analyze, and deconstruct all the talent processes a company has in place.That means to break every single process into a million tiny pieces, find all the embedded biases and inequities and re-design those systems from the ground up, with a strong foundation in equity and justice.Doing all this would also help identify (and fix!) pay inequities. However, for pay equity I also recommend to run yearly audits to identify any potential outliers (talent who hasn’t been promoted in 2+ years, talent who hasn’t receive a salary raise, etc)This is of course easier said than done! It takes a lot of time, effort, energy (and funding!).
Hi Daniela! Thanks for taking the time to do this :) What are the most significant differences between the DEI practices and painpoints in Argentina versus the US?
Hi, @Tona219! Thank YOU so much for joining us and for your question!So, the ED&I space in the USA is different and more advanced than what we see in Argentina. Let me explain 🤓All ED&I work stems from anti-racism work, and this is an area the United States has been exploring, working on, discussing, and elevating for decades now. So with that in mind, ED&I work and careers have also existed in the USA for a very long time - which, sadly, isn't the case in Argentina.ED&I work in the United States is - and has been - more encompassing and comprehensive for decades. Whereas in Argentina, ED&I conversations are still almost solely focused on gender.It's also important to note that, from an ethnicity, culture, religion, and identities POV, the United States is also a bit more diverse than Argentina. This fact alone also explains why the ED&I conversation is at a different level. Sadly, the ED&I conversation in the US isn't always positive - we are now seeing laws and legislations being passed to prevent schools, colleges, and government institutions from teaching (or talking about!) ED&I, race, racism, LGBTQIA identities, etc.Now, with all that said, Argentina is way more advanced than the USA in other equality and equity areas, especially on all things maternity/paternity leave, PTO, and worker rights in general. For example, I know that starting today, all companies with 100+ employees are meant to give parents a childcare option either in-office or at an external facility if they don’t have the space. That’s a huge accomplishment and not something the USA is even thinking about, to be honest. I'm also super happy to see Argentina accepting, adopting, and moving toward ED&I conversations and actions! I've noticed how many companies are investing in building ED&I teams and how slowly (but surely) the conversation about race and racism is finally taking place. I've also noticed how conversations about neurodiversity, disabilities, and fatphobia are gaining traction in Argentina. Yay!
Hello Daniela, thank you for your time. It is nice to meet you.My question is regarding ghosting during the recruitment process: in a down market like now, employers have the upper hand and sometimes candidates aren't always treated in fairness (e.g they are ghosted which is worst after having done multiple rounds of interviews). Is this a practice HR teams are aware of and do you see people actively trying to change this landscape?
This is a great and important question, @Shelli178!The very short answer is yes; most teams know that ghosting happens. And, unfortunately, no, most companies are not actively trying to change this behavior (at least not at the systemic level)Let me elaborate 🤓First and foremost, in most cases, ghosting doesn’t happen because the Recruiter intentionally wants to ghost you, I promise! And it’s certainly not because of something you did. Are there Recruiters who aren’t great at their jobs and inconsiderate who enjoy ghosting candidates? Yes, of course. (It happens in all roles and disciplines!) But that’s not the case for most Recruiters.In general, ghosting happens when the Recruiter is deeply overwhelmed, doesn’t have access to the tools and the technology they need to keep track of all their candidates, doesn’t receive any feedback from the interview team, got laid off, or is now recruiting for a completely different role/department without a proper transition process in place.I painfully admit that have ghosted candidates in the past too. And the worst part? I didn’t even notice I was doing it until the candidate nudged me or when I cleaned my inbox months later. That’s how overwhelmed Recruiters get sometimes. I’ve covered ghosting in much more detail in my blog. Take a look when and if you can:Why Recruiters Ghost You: to do if you’re being ghosted by a Recruiter: all this said, always nudge your recruiter. Sometimes they really, really need it.
What trends are you seeing in DEI at tech companies right now? How is the economic climate effecting these programs and underrepresented employees? Thank you for your thoughts!
Argh, such a tricky question, @euna221!I’m going to be very honest, raw, and transparent here. Unfortunately, ED&I has been severely and disproportionately impacted by the massive rounds of layoffs in the tech industry and the current economic & political climate.We’re seeing, in real-time, how companies are defunding, eliminating, or downsizing their ED&I commitments, teams, and programming. We’re also seeing how legislation and laws are being passed to prevent ED&I programming in schools, colleges, and governmental institutions. I’m personally worried; I’m not going to lie! I worry for ED&I teams and overall ED&I progress, but I also fear for all the historically excluded talent companies that were desperately trying to hire back in 2020. Sadly, in many cases, companies only focused on hiring them but didn’t put the same level of intention on creating inclusive, accessible, and equitable workspaces and career paths for them.
What is your most impactful tactic for DEI recruitment? As someone in recruiting at a smaller-startup, I'm always trying to think of ways to improve!
Hi, @Enda67 👋🏻Thank you so much for joining me today and for your million-dollar question!So, to create impactful and successful ED&I recruitment practices, you’ll need to take a look at how inclusive, equitable, and accessible your recruitment processes and practices are.Because, to be honest, hiring “Diverse Talent” is easy! The talent is out there, and they want to get hired, BUT in attract them, interview them, hire them, and retain them, we have to provide an intentionally inclusive experience.For example, is your company website and application form accessible? Are y’all using inclusive language in job descriptions and candidate communications? Are you providing the candidate with a detailed interview line-up and meeting agendas? Is your interview team and hiring manager trained on identifying and minimizing their own biases? Etc.Now, I know that many of those actions might not be fully in your control. After all, Recruiters might not have the power to revamp their whole processes!So, with that in mind, you can absolutely control the way you do your job and where you look for candidates. For example, you could start by - Intentionally creating boolean strings that will help you find historically excluded talent.- Posting jobs on community-based and community-focused websites and online communities.- Diversify your job post budgets! For example, instead of allocating all your budget to one “general job board,” you could post jobs on sites built by and for the talent you want to hire- Attend events to help you get closer to the talent you want to hire.- Partner and collaborate with organizations that focus on elevating and supporting talent from historically excluded communities.- Host “get to know me and my company” online sessions.I hope that helps!
Thank you for sharing with the community! How do you define success within recruiting operations?
Thank you for your question, @alexbarron!So, this really depends on the company and what they understand for “Recruiting Operations”! Some companies only focus on making sure that the Recruiting Team has everything they need to succeed, for example, implementing new or updated processes or evaluating and implementing new tools or platforms to make the Recruiters’ lives easier. In some other cases, Recruitment Operations also manages and handles freelance recruiting and payroll, vendor management, 3rd party contracts and even onboarding.My case is a bit different because I focus on the ED&I part of Operations - basically, success for me is implementing the most inclusive and equitable processes, systems, and practices we possibly can!