Ancestry’s global director of talent is dedicated to making the company’s hiring more inclusive.
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Dani Allen is the global director of talent acquisition at Ancestry.Allen uses workflow software, CRM systems, and AI to make the recruiting process more diverse.Allen also collaborates with nonprofits to attract more diverse talent.This article is part of “Talent Insider,” a series containing expert advice to help business owners tackle a variety of hiring challenges.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dani Allen, the global director of talent acquisition for the tech company, Ancestry. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I’ve been in recruiting for 27 years, and now I’m the global director of talent acquisition at Ancestry. In June, I will have been with the company for three years, and it has been an amazing experience.
I’m responsible for global talent acquisition from international to product and technology, two very large organizations, and the corporate recruiting and sciences side. We talk about the company’s direction and what’s on the road map, and then I build the road map for talent acquisition according to where the company is going.
One area the company is focusing on is diversity. The CEO has doubled down on her efforts and commitment to diversifying the workforce, ensuring everybody who comes through has an equitable experience, but recruiting diverse talent comes with unique challenges. Our approved states-to-hire policy sometimes limits the geographical diversity we can tap into. Despite the growing trend of remote work, this restriction can exclude potential candidates who could bring a wealth of diverse experiences and perspectives to the organization simply because of their location.
Another challenge is that when you work in tech, recruiting talent from tech giants may bring proven experience but may also narrow the pipeline for highly skilled individuals from less renowned organizations. This often means missing out on diverse talent that thrives outside the tech-giant ecosystem.
But the biggest pro of working at Ancestry is that I get to be a part of the evolution of the brand and the product. Here are three tools I use to diversify our workforce.
1. Workflow software for recruiting and operating
One thing we recognized within six months of me being here was that our applicant-tracking system wasn’t necessarily jiving with the integration.
We were using Lever, but after testing and looking at the system’s efficacy, we decided to implement Workday, a recruiting software, to have a more seamless workflow. This helped our recruiter and operational efficiency. Workday gives us transparency in employee-demographic breakdowns and shows us how our diverse candidates perform throughout the interview cycle.
The metrics from Workday provide us with valuable talent intelligence regarding the health of our DEI strategies, give us specific areas to zero in on, and ensure talent-delivery excellence remains top of mind.
2. CRM system to manage talent
The second tool we implemented was a customer-relationship management, or CRM, system. Clinch is our CRM system for recruiting and hosting our career site. We can see where talent comes from and use that from a sourcing perspective. Clinch helps us hold ourselves accountable to our goals, objectives, and key results by ensuring that we embed diversity and inclusion in our recruitment metrics.
It’s not just about tracking numbers — it’s about making sure that our talent-acquisition efforts are as inclusive as they are strategic, ultimately leading to a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our global market.
Clinch also tracks the front end of talent attraction and provides important data on how Ancestry career pages, application processes, and employer branding are working. Some front-end statistics help us understand how we can better engage underrepresented prospects and market our company to those communities.
3. AI tools for job descriptions
Another tool we implemented that gave us an interesting readout was an AI-focused tool called Datapeople. Datapeople’s main job for us is to make sure our job descriptions are inclusive. We ensure we’re using inclusive language and not alienating talent who may otherwise not choose Ancestry because of how our job descriptions are written.
Since using these tools, we’ve had a 32% increase in underrepresented talent. Flowing through our interview process, we’ve had between 80% and 100% of our requisitions housing at least one person from underrepresented communities in the final stages of interviewing. It’s a massive lift from where we were before. We can track where our diverse talent is in the process, capture more diverse talent applying to these roles, and work them through the system.
We foster connections beyond the résumé
Other practices that have helped increase diverse talent have been collaborating with dedicated nonprofit organizations such as Latina Geeks, which empowers and educates Latinas with technology. We also leverage specialized diversity-recruiting websites such as Jopwell to connect with a broader range of candidates.
We also engage with higher-education institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. Participating in events such as AfroTech, Lesbians Who Tech, and Techqueria allows us to meet potential candidates in dynamic environments, fostering connections beyond the résumé.