Our Founder, Shashi Mudunuri, became passionate about research communication through his personal experience as the son of an academic. His father struggled to get published due to exclusive barriers, like language. In 2004, he founded AJE to help researchers around the world overcome the challenges his father faced. Our AJE brand has been expanding its editing, translation, and other services ever since to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the scholarly publishing world.
As we have advanced and grown into Research Square Company, so has our focus on DEI.
Given the origins of our business, it is important to us that we build a diverse workforce and that we support a fair and inclusive workplace at every level of our organization. We are committed to listening, learning, and educating ourselves and changing our behavior based on what we learn. We have an active and engaged DEI committee to guide our efforts, and I am personally committed to championing our DEI initiatives and count myself as a dedicated learner on this journey.
One important step in driving our progress has been to review our hiring practices and make sure that we are attracting diversified talent through more outreach to underrepresented groups. The committee reached out to over 100 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as the first step in developing deeper relationships with these institutions in the future. We’re participating in diversity career fairs with Research Triangle institutions, including NC Central, East Carolina University, Duke, and the University of North Carolina. We’re also training our hiring teams on removing bias from the recruitment, interview, and evaluation processes.
Here are the eight stages of the hiring process where we are applying changes:
- Job descriptions - We ensure that no biased language, such as gendered language, is used in our job descriptions,and we use tools such as Textio, GenderDecoder, and Datapeople to check for biased language.
- Developing a diverse talent pipeline - We have reached out to many HBCUs to increase diversity in our talent pipeline. Our hiring team collaborates with the Diversity Committee to develop meaningful relationships with these universities and colleges.
- Job postings - We highlight our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in job postings and ensure that there are no unnecessary skill requirements that might negatively impact the recruitment of underrepresented groups.
- The recruitment process - Within the next six months, our employees who participate in the hiring process will complete a training course on unconscious bias to help ensure that it is not a factor in the recruitment process. We also take all reasonable steps to encourage a diverse shortlist of candidates and check the required qualifications for inclusivity to make sure we are not reducing diversity in the candidate pool.
- The interview process - Our hiring teams will be provided with refresher training to understand the values of the organization, our DEI commitment, and how to develop interview questions ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of likeability bias. We've also developed a set of DEI-related base interview questions in our evaluation form to ensure consistency - and are reducing bias dramatically by avoiding the visual impact of first impressions through phone screens, which naturally shift the focus towards work history and major accomplishments.
- Candidate evaluation - We use a candidate evaluation form with a talent scorecard containing a 1-5 ranking system to minimize bias. Whenever the variance among all interviewees on any factor is more than plus or minus half a point, we know the assessment process is emotionally biased. When the variance is tight, we know the assessment is accurate.
- Evaluation of the hiring process - Our HR leadership is currently developing a DEI-focused process for hiring managers to implement in the first quarter of this year. Once a position is filled, we will take the time to evaluate the hiring process and learn what we could do differently to improve our chances of attracting applicants from underrepresented groups.
- Incorporate DEI as part of the onboarding process - When a new hire starts with the company, we talk about what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean at Research Square Company. We encourage new hires to join the DEI Committee and its communication channels to promote more learning and communication around DEI topics. Our goal is to inform new hires about the company’s various employee resource groups and mentorship programs and empower our people managers to be diversity and inclusion leaders.
We want the value of diversity to be ingrained into our hiring practices so that it becomes embedded across the company and our culture in time. Our customers are diverse, and we want diversity in our employees too. Whether we need to think, behave, and act differently to make that happen, we’re ready for the challenge!