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South Korea Tackles Bias in Resume Reviews

Sometimes the key to diversity and inclusion is what you don’t see.

eBay South Korea’s summer internship program is among the most competitive in the country, with over 1,500 applicants typically applying for just 25 slots. By most standards, the summer internship program has been a highly successful one, bringing top candidates from South Korea’s best universities.

But eBay South Korea’s recruitment team wondered whether they could do more to give talented students from all schools — regardless of prestige — a fair chance. Their solution: eBay’s first resume blinding experiment. For internship resumes in 2017, they would remove (or “blind”) any characteristics irrelevant to the job — removing any mention of gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, university name and would not solicit photos (a common practice in South Korea). “We preferred to see their values, their passion, their insight and creativity,” says recruiter Serena Kang.

After announcing the applications would be blinded, the team received a recorded-shattering 3,491 submissions. It was eBay South Korea’s most diverse intern class ever. Surprisingly, when gender was blinded, the number of female students accepted jumped from 50% to 70%. eBay South Korea hopes to expand these practices, once tested, beyond the internship program to include all new hires.

Miwa Takaki

Senior Technical Product Manager | Buyer Experience | New York, NY

D&I is about breaking down the barriers associated with identity. And that journey begins long before someone reaches the job application.

Almost nothing about Miwa Takaki’s road to eBay was typical. She started a degree in political science until enrolling in her first engineering and design class. “We worked with stroke patients to create a device to help them put on shoes. It was an eye-opening process,” she says. From that moment, Miwa began considering a career in tech.

At eBay, Miwa marries her passion for solving technical problems with her commitment to diversity and inclusion. Last year, she partnered with John Cline, an engineering manager at eBay to launch Code/Interactive’s Tech Career Accelerator Program (TCAP). TCAP helps students from underrepresented groups gain access to mentorship, networking and resources in tech. “TCAP provides students with the academic support and network needed to get access to tech companies like eBay,” she says. Though it’s a standalone nonprofit, its biggest sponsors are eBay’s Core Product and Tech Division and its Diversity & Inclusion Team.

Miwa feels her new position is ideal for empowering her to create opportunities for people who are like her — passionate and capable — yet non-traditional. “D&I is about breaking down the barriers associated with identity,” she says. “And that journey begins long before someone reaches the job application.”

Roisin Parkes

Chief Technology Officer | Gumtree Australia, an eBay business | Sydney, Australia

I started programming when I was 9 years old, but never considered it as a career when I was young. My tech heroes were all men.

Growing up as a tech-obsessed young woman in Ireland, Roisin was keenly aware of the lack of female representation in tech. “I started programming when I was 9 years old, but never considered it as a career when I was young. My tech heroes were all men,” she says. And at a recent summit, Roisin noticed that of nearly 80 Chief Technology Officers, she was one of very few women in the role — this encouraged her to dig deeper.

Some self-reflection, combined with qualitative and quantitative research on what moves the diversity needle in tech, led to a solution that has evolved how Australia’s office identifies talent. “We have to approach recruitment in a more personal way,” she says. Roisin has since doubled down on attending meetups for groups like Women in Tech, Girl Geek Dinners, Women Who Code and Code Like a Girl. “We've also started hosting a lot of these meetups in our office to demonstrate our commitment to diversifying our talent pool,” she says.

But real change requires a multi-layered approach that goes beyond recruitment. Gumtree Australia also sponsors events such as Vogue Codes and organizations like Code Club Australia, which provides free coding classes for thousands of children and teachers.

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