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HRx Radio – Executive Conversations: On Friday mornings, John Sumser interviews key executives from around the industry. The conversation covers what makes the executive tick and what makes their company great.

HRx Radio – Executive Conversations

Guest: Elaine Orler, Co-founder and Chairman, TalVista
Episode: 330
Air Date: July 5, 2019




Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

Full Transcript with timecode

00:00:14:05 – 00:00:40:12
Good morning and welcome to HRExaminer’s Executive Conversations. Today we’re going to be talking with Elaine Orler who is a fixture on the recruiting industry landscape and the CEO and founder, I believe you’ll have to tell me Elaine, TalVista. And we’re going to learn about TalVista, it’s Elaine’s project. Scott Sessions may think that he’s in charge.

00:00:42:21 – 00:00:47:20
Scott is in charge of the day to day operations but yes I do have a lot of influence over the direction the strategy and the passion that we have for the topic. So I’ve really enjoyed exploring where this market is going especially around unconscious bias. And believe that this is a solid solution for corporations in the recruiting side of things to really make sure that they’re dealing with conscious inclusion.

00:01:06:12 – 00:01:29:24
So before we jump headlong into that there might be one or two people listed who have not heard of the entire Elaine Orler story. How did you get here? I’m sure you didn’t wake up at 5 years old in the sandbox and go, TalVista, that’s it. TalVista, that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up. How’d you get here?

00:01:31:19 – 00:02:00:18
Oh that’s a great question. I get to stay I think and all of my career directions and each of the jobs that I’ve had I fallen into them not realizing that I was going to be so enamored with the excitement of the work I get to do. I’m one of those few people that gets up every morning grateful and excited to say that I love what I do and I love that I get to do it every day. And started my professional career as a teacher teaching kindergarten and first grade I realized that I love the kids but couldn’t deal with the parents. So

00:02:00:28 – 00:02:31:03
Somehow from that post college convert to transferable skills recruiting digital design engineers. Not completely sure how those skills math but they do. And so. Went into the recruiting very quickly when we moved to California 20 plus years ago and then the recruiting realized that I love this side of the equation so moved into recruiting operations and managed operations for several large Fortune 500 companies and then have been consulting for 20 plus years just around recruiting technology

00:02:31:19 – 00:03:06:17
Co-founded and in this launched talent board with Jerry Crispin and Ed Newman nine years ago now which is really hard to believe but launched that mission to really solve for a kind of candidate experience and get that on the radar. And since then have realized that the concept of inclusion and the concept of diversity is critical to how organizations are going to succeed. And as I continue to look for ways in which I can help corporations improve their recruiting have really adopted this mindset that there is absolute solutions and products that we can use to help solve for conscious inclusion and reduce unconscious bias.

00:03:06:18 – 00:03:29:14
So I started I joined an organization called Talent sonar that organization chose not to continue. And then I decided that I was this is too important which is you’ll learn very quickly as you talked with me that when I get my mind wrapped around something it pretty much not going to let go. So I acquired the assets from talent sonar and Scott and I went after really building out a product that can be used in the market today.

00:03:29:15 – 00:03:33:08
So what is toughest. What exactly is strongest.

00:03:34:06 – 00:03:46:01
The great question. So for me it’s my best way to describe it is a decision support solution for conscious inclusion. It’s a product that focuses on three of the major decision points in the recruiting process. Today

00:03:46:08 – 00:04:19:05
First being the content we publish out about the job making sure that that content is truly available and understandable by all. So we take the approach of highlighting words that are inclusionary based on research and also providing alternatives to words that are exclusionary to bring that description to what we call neutral that allows that that allows all candidates to feel that they can resonate with the skills and abilities related to the job not necessarily having some of their other part of their brain and go to the Whole Brain Science of Us

00:04:20:14 – 00:04:23:21
Having them think that it’s not a safe position so not apply.

00:04:23:21 – 00:04:29:24
So we know that there’s a lift in the number of diverse candidates that will apply when the job description is neutral.

00:04:29:26 – 00:04:34:25
That’s one decision point. The other to include. Redacted or blind résumé review.

00:04:34:25 – 00:05:01:12
So the opportunity to truly just focus on skills and abilities not on what is familiar when you’re looking at a resumé and evaluating the recipe against the required job skills. And the third is a is a structured narrative based interview process. So it’s aligning the questions and then the question and focus on the requirements and skills again for the job not on other variables that contend to influence the decision. And show grab

00:05:02:19 – 00:05:24:25
So those are the three. This is a three touch point today. There are others we’re exploring but for us it’s not about being the core solution that every organization has. Had again I’ve been consulting and. In recruiting technology for over 20 years. We just believe that there are some really critical elements that have to happen if these decision points that can be solved with technology that deeply integrated

00:05:25:16 – 00:05:26:14
And that’s our focus.

00:05:27:08 – 00:05:39:24
So can you give me an example. You say there’s a list of sort of preferred language to use to sound more inclusive to example.

00:05:39:26 – 00:05:53:05
Sure. What a perfect example is I could use the word strong right. If you say looking for somebody with strong extrovert blah blah blah and that description. And that word in and of itself is not necessarily a threat word or an exclusionary word

00:05:53:15 – 00:06:25:19
How that word is used or repetitively used. If you stay in a job description bullet list. Is absolutely definable research out there that says. That that word has an adverse reaction to female candidate. Now I am one of those female candidates says I digging into the word strong. You want strong I’ll give you strong. But not everybody does. And so even masculine or feminine based terms. The concept is to bring the description of the term to something that doesn’t cause somebody of reaction. So instead of strong you might say dynamic you might say

00:06:26:03 – 00:07:00:03
Influential and there’s a variety of different ways based on what you’re trying to say. So what we try to do is bring up the additional words and present those terms that would be considered neutral or inclusionary based on the research been published. So the platform itself is not an artificial intelligence product. We don’t we don’t actually go out and decide which words are going to be added or changed. It’s simply programmed based on public available research today plus additional research that we have funded to ensure that the accuracy of that of the terms are legitimate within the industry.

00:07:00:23 – 00:07:03:20
So with that we can go ahead.

00:07:03:25 – 00:07:34:21
When you talk about when you talk about conscious inclusion or are you talking about something larger than the legally protected classes. The reason I ask is is I want to see yesterday the movie last night. And it’s a love to do the racial love story of the room and a very white woman. And it’s a wonderful little story but I came out to see what was going on. That’s how our culture works.

00:07:34:22 – 00:07:56:21
That’s exactly how our culture works five years ago you would have been able to see that because we were slowly we were inclusive people. But my take is that is that what tells us that those. Isn’t that perfect. It’s obvious that those is the focus of the legal areas which which there is discrimination.

00:07:57:29 – 00:08:03:17
And actually no. It is the party of the former not the latter.

00:08:04:13 – 00:08:45:27
We’re not we’re not dealing with compliance though I have. We understand the business needs and requirements for compliance to hit quotas and all those members. That’s actually not our focus whatsoever. What it is is that if you think about it when you think about it from a mindset of and I think I look at it as through a recruiter lens and through the head of talent acquisition that’s just always been my base. And we think about the competitive nature right now for talent in the market and the reality that yes we have a lot of people that are applying but not everybody is fully qualified. Can any organization afford the risk of publishing concepts and words and terms that that detract candidates that are qualified from applying.

00:08:46:05 – 00:09:21:02
And when I think about it from a business perspective and I know I need to do everything I can to ensure that I’m accessing everybody that is potentially. Skilled and able to do this work. And so by taking that first step of just making sure that the description or really any in content that’s being published is presenting itself neutrally it doesn’t have a reach it doesn’t have an adverse or negative reaction from the reader. That is by nature putting setting yourself up for one stage of success more than you had before. The second major module work in the resume a review which I think is absolutely one of the most critical steps in a recruiting process.

00:09:21:02 – 00:09:51:29
We could debate all day long whether. There wasn’t a is valid or not or whether we should still be using them or not are application forms are more important. But to me the resumé is that person’s self and self interpretation and presentation of themselves. So as you. I don’t see the hiring manager looking at anything else for the long term other than a resume. So if we just take away the familiar we take away the name address phone number we take away some of the school components or some of the other aspects that are critical to that organization

00:09:52:13 – 00:10:09:03
When. That manager is now focused only on looking at what the skills and abilities are. So in the time that they have to review the resumé they’re not they’re not honing in on what familiar they’re honing in on what is valuable and what is what is important to the job. Does that make sense.

00:10:09:15 – 00:10:28:16
But if it doesn’t it’s it’s a challenging thing that you’re trying to do. You know I am sick you know I’m of the opinion that that bias is a systemic problem and the. Fact that it’s quite difficult to to eliminate it unless you eliminate throughout the system.

00:10:28:22 – 00:11:00:24
But what I wonder I wonder if that’s going to get I’m going to jump in on that because I agree with you. You can’t eliminate bias. We weren’t. We inherit it. We were grown to it we gravitate towards what is familiar. Our brain is condition we our brain is so aggressive and so amazing but it is looking familiar because familiar equals face and that’s the equation that we’re dealing with when we talk about unconscious bias. Conscious bias we’re not dealing with that.

00:11:01:02 – 00:11:38:12
I mean it’s there. There are plenty of other programs and there are definitely a lot of that and behavioral modification things that should be happened. But the unconscious or familiar equal safe. I made the decision too fast because it just seemed right. That is what we’re focused on surviving conscious inclusion is we’re taking away the familiar. Where would you keep us safe. But what we can do is focus on what is important and relevant and that is again we’re not going to. You can’t just say stop being biased unconsciously biased because it doesn’t work. And there’s all the training in the world that you can do but without practical tools to help you modify the way in which you think.

00:11:39:09 – 00:11:40:15
Well we won’t get there.

00:11:41:08 – 00:12:04:02
So I wonder if you’re thinking about a feature that once once you have taken the identifying information out of a rosary highlights words. You know this the word strong comes to mind because you use as an example or if if I use the word strong in my resumé doesn’t that doesn’t that give the same information that it does in a job description

00:12:05:19 – 00:12:15:15
. Are you thinking about thinking about tools that highway words that may invoke bias Yes Teacher.

00:12:15:29 – 00:12:51:03
So the the opportunity that we have in the in the description optimization component is actually any context in text and I’ve done it on many occasions I’ve taken a resonates and somebody put it into that same tool and reverse engineer by resumé to say well look you know if you’re trying to appeal to the business folks etc.. These are the these are the words we know this is scientifically proven research based proven that they can have an adverse impact or an unconscious bias can be triggered. So even then looking at a resumé or any kind of text we can actually run the same kind of formula against those.

00:12:51:03 – 00:13:08:00
Is there a future opportunity for turning this tool into a resume a qualifier first for candidate. You know me John I’m gonna mix it all together whenever I can because if anything that’s going to move this industry forward and make it better is what I’m going to focus on. So there is a potential for that in the future.

00:13:08:01 – 00:13:16:21
I love the term conscious inclusion talks more about more about what you’ve been very. That’s an interesting point.

00:13:17:05 – 00:13:55:12
Thank you. It’s a concept that we’ve been hearing in several other of diversity and inclusion conferences. But don’t take credit for for owning or starting the concept. But the concept that for me there’s always there’s always a mindset you’re running from something or you’re running to something. Course I guess I’m always running. But if you’re running away from something if we’re trying to avoid getting caught we’re doing a bad behavior or if something is presented in a negative it’s kind of constantly be one of those things you’re looking over your shoulder again. If you’re running forward towards something the motivation the energy the mindset in which you apply your principles to budget your practice is a little bit different.

00:13:56:00 – 00:14:27:16
So when we think about solving for unconscious bias unconscious bias or solving for. That’s to me as a combats the negative. This is we have to fix it because it’s broken it’s something wrong. We’re in fact we know that mentally in our brains this is just a conditioning in our brains of familiar equals safe. And how do we rewrite some of those things that are familiar or adjust in our mind when familiar equals safe and how it does or doesn’t apply in certain other decisions. So when I took when we started hearing this concept and dig into deeper it resonated so much more with exactly what we’re doing.

00:14:27:17 – 00:14:49:24
Look we’re a platform that helps solve for conscious inclusion. So we’re giving you a way in which you can be forward thinking you can process. Intelligently you can hold your thought to say in that moment and make sure that you’re making the right decision with the right mindset versus the typical fast or familiar equal space mindset.

00:14:50:19 – 00:15:00:00
That’s interesting so. So you’ve got this tool. It does this stuff. How do you measure value and results.

00:15:00:01 – 00:15:39:25
Well that’s a great question. Our clients actually measure value and results really they’re seeing this thing in increased lift in diverse candidates that are applying. And when we talk about diversity it’s not just gender. It’s not just gender and race gender race ethnicity. Sexual orientation and preference. And then we also have added in some research terms around disability which is another category. If it continues down the path of just inclusion being all not just one class or one group so without it we’re continuing to see organization see a lift in the number of candidates that are responding that are designating themselves in a diverse category.

00:15:40:00 – 00:15:53:14
And then there’s a definite list in candidates that are proceeding from a resume a review to interview just based on the managers with responses their ability to look at their qualifications and designate this one this one meets qualifications.

00:15:53:14 – 00:16:05:02
Proceed. And then when they’re when they’re revealed the candidate information after that review their own conscious thought process in the business. Wow I might have passed over this candidate because of something else.

00:16:05:16 – 00:16:16:27
And now I realize that I would have done that but I’m really glad I’m moving forward. So the results and the percentages they’re run everywhere from. From 25 to 35 percent increase in left in each of those stages

00:16:18:21 – 00:16:55:28
The recruiting business has the most dreadful productivity statistics of every function in the organization. The numbers I keep she sound like 50 percent of all hires are seen as regrettable. 92 in the process. So so when you do this sort of surgery or on the recruiting process to improve inclusively does it show up as an improvement in quality you roll weeding or hiring managers happy with their decisions.

00:16:56:03 – 00:16:56:24
Do you know.

00:16:56:29 – 00:17:29:25
I don’t know yet. That is definitely one of the markers I’m looking for. And as we like to say that Scott and I had acquired the assets and we’ve had the product we spent our first six months which was only been in business for 13 months plus last week. But we spent the first six months actually architecting key components of the product to make sure that it would be stabilized or enterprise level organizations as well as small boutique. And so we’ve only really started producing customer results in the last six months and our uplift in companies that are starting to use the platform.

00:17:30:00 – 00:17:35:00
But I would ask you to ask me that question again in December and I will guarantee you an answer.

00:17:35:12 – 00:18:01:27
OK I will I will. That’s that’s great. That’s a great opportunity there. Are there other big questions that you’re trying to answer besides inclusion. It’s an interesting area and there are all sorts of questions about how culture works the point where you’re modifying the cultures history so you should should you see other things which are Jewish wrote this curiosity.

00:18:02:04 – 00:18:04:15
Yes that might be my second middle name.

00:18:04:15 – 00:18:43:15
I’m curious about it all truthfully. But for us in the products that right now one of the things that I’ve also learned in the years of doing this is we’re going to we’re staying focused and true to what we do. So when I think about decision support tool this isn’t taking the decision away or allowing a product to make that next step because we don’t have enough time or trust our people to do it. We’re creating tools that you can make that decision in a moment in time. Does it take a manager a little longer to review your best mate. Yes. Six seconds is gone and we see about a 45 45 seconds to a minute per resumé for review which is intentional because you want them to read the context of the rest may determine skills and match.

00:18:43:16 – 00:19:04:04
So in those cases those are some of the things where we see the timeline. Yes it gets a little longer. But the quality output is better. So we’re gonna continue to look at where those decision points. Oftentimes the manager in the recruiting equation is the one that doesn’t get the same set of tools as the recruiter. Oftentimes is too busy oftentimes is the one that’s producer of

00:19:04:12 – 00:19:34:22
Position does the one that is I can I can hire a good candidate. I didn’t have to deal with a manager I had a dollar for every time I heard of recruiter say that and then if I had a dollar for every time the manager said I could hire a great candidate if I didn’t have to deal with a recruiter we’d be multimillionaires weekly. The point being. That. Part of the decision process and I think where we can give simplify tools and tools that are helping them with decisions in a conscious way they’re more the more intractable the the better the quality of the results will be for the manager. So that’s what we’re focused on.

00:19:34:24 – 00:19:57:05
Take bigger picture in the market. There’s a lot that has to be done. There’s still a lot that has to be done with. How we treat people once we do hire them. What’s happening in the culture within the business. Once they are in the organization and how are we adapting to that. For me. I’m pretty much always going to just be on the recruiting side. But I partner with and I treasure those that are willing to deal with the other side of the equation.

00:19:58:04 – 00:20:22:06
So you you raise a really interesting point which is that to get higher quality in the recruiting process you have to go slower. And I couldn’t agree. I couldn’t agree with you more. But this is this is a marketplace that’s been that’s been selling its goods and services on the idea of speed and efficiency for as long as I can remember.

00:20:23:06 – 00:20:27:17
So I would be impressed investment to continue Yeah I would just say I.

00:20:28:11 – 00:20:59:02
Any any organization that that measures or or bonuses or qualifies the recruiters with a time to fill percentage. No I think is is not going in the right direction. Time to sell has been the market that we can only think that because the only thing we did. In the days of paper it was really the only thing we had control over. And today I think time to sell isn’t the most important quality of hires the most important but it’s harder to measure. And it takes longer. It takes a little bit more thought and attitude about. What is prescriptive for the long term picture.

00:20:59:11 – 00:21:09:06
But I could stay on the same side on the consulting side of what I do every day. There are organizations that are going after that like there’s no tomorrow and I’m super excited for the future.

00:21:09:06 – 00:21:09:27
Oh that’s great.

00:21:09:27 – 00:21:41:03
So what do you what kinds of things are people doing everything from measuring the quality of higher post higher so the concept of really taking that candidate through the day in the life. I think the realistic opportunities to help help the candidates really adjust and understand that culture. And then also I think there’s more transparency in the organizations today when we say we’re working on a cultural change to the days and I’ve been a part of them and I’m I have the same hash tags on the behind my name when all the topics come up. But the bad behaviors are no longer acceptable.

00:21:41:03 – 00:21:51:21
And we’re seeing a lot faster more swift decision ing around those behaviors. In the organizations that are paying attention to it. And that is exciting to me.

00:21:51:23 – 00:22:09:14
Amazing amazing. So you’re building your company you’ve been around the block once or twice. What are you trying to do differently about the the company did me well. Well you know I’m sure you have some deep experience with how not to run a company

00:22:11:08 – 00:22:14:21
. So what brings you from three different is the question.

00:22:15:01 – 00:22:15:23
Thank you.

00:22:15:23 – 00:22:47:24
Well I think this is my first time in these software as a service side. I’ve yes I’ve been in the industry for 20 plus years. I like to stay there for like twenty seven twenty seven years and a month. But this is my first time. First time taking taking a stance on the fact that there is a product that I should be helping be successful in getting organization I’ve always been on the service decider I’ve always been on the practitioner side. So for me right now it is learning a lot failing fast I fail fast daily learn from it and then I keep going.

00:22:47:25 – 00:23:18:04
And so from a software and solutions side we’re really focused right now on not being the end all be all the number of calls and requests that we get to take on things that we don’t already do. For me I would say the biggest thing is avoiding all of those really great ideas which is super hard for me personally. There’s a lot of great ideas and things that we could go do and go bills and solve for. But we’re really focused just on these decision points. We want this to be successful organizations who want to see them get this lift and then we’ll see what else needs to be solved for.

00:23:18:05 – 00:23:35:22
So if I had to say anything for me it’s keeping a very very narrow focus a deep integrated not another application I have to learn how to use not in other log and I have to remember how to do. That deep integrated behind the scenes application to solving for these pieces in the process. That’s what I’m focused on.

00:23:35:22 – 00:23:42:16
Fantastic. So we are through our time what are a couple of things you want to be sure that people take away from this overseas.

00:23:42:29 – 00:24:14:10
If anything study out the concept of conscious inclusion any organization right now again as we say unconscious bias everybody gets that the fear factor it generates fear it creates doubt. So think about how you’re going to deliver conscious inclusion and recruiting where are those decision points and what are the things that they can do whether it’s with how the vista or whether it’s with just thinking about the business process and rules that can actually bring better awareness to those decisions and whether. That for me is first and foremost. And the second thing is I think you know technology is amazing.

00:24:14:13 – 00:24:34:15
I love this technology for everything. There’s opportunities galore. But I don’t want technology to make my decision. I want my I want I want to know if we’re making a decision about humans. Humans are making those decisions. So making sure that they’re processing them what they’re building out. That they’re retaining the right to make a decision based on what is a human value.

00:24:35:10 – 00:24:42:26
Awesome. So take a moment and reintroduce yourself and tell the audience how they can get a hold of you. Great.

00:24:43:03 – 00:25:03:18
Well my name is Elaine Orler and I am chairman and co-founder of TalVista which is a conscious inclusion decision support tool for talent acquisition and recruiting. You can reach me by looking at Elaine Orler anywhere but Twitter is Elaine Orler Facebook is Elaine Orler Linkedin is Elaine Orler and TalVista is

00:25:04:27 – 00:25:11:07
Fantastic. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this and good luck with the enterprise.

00:25:11:07 – 00:25:14:01
Thank you John I appreciate the conversation. Yeah.

00:25:14:09 – 00:25:31:02
You’ve been listening to HRExaminers Executive Conversations and we’ve been talking with, in case you didn’t get it, Elaine Orler, the CEO and chairman of TalVista. Thanks very much for tuning in. Thanks again Elaine that was a great conversation.


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