Adonis Wooten-Herron, North American Recruiting Lead for Women’s Initiatives, Persons with Disabilities, and LGBTQ+ at Accenture, shares how people and AI-enabled technology can work together to create more inclusive recruiting practices. He underscores the importance of staying passionate and keeping informed to ensure that the core of your hiring process always puts people first.

Transcript

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:00:00.02] Recruiters are often the first representation of the company. You’re often the first interaction that somebody has with your organization. How upsetting would it be for that first interaction with the company of great culture, of great size to be a negative one? So, be mindful that though we have a privilege, we also have a responsibility as recruiting and HR leadership.

Intro: [00:00:23.11] Welcome to the Workology podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrill, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools and case studies for the business leader, HR and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:48.31] This episode of the Workology podcast is part of our Future of Work series, powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. PEAT works to start conversations around how emerging workplace technology trends are impacting people with disabilities. This podcast is powered by Ace the HR exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that we here at Workology offer for HR certification prep and recertification for HR leaders. Before I introduce our guest, I do want to hear from you. Please comment “podcast” on our pinned post on our Instagram. It’s @workologyblog where you can ask questions, leave comments and connect with us about future podcast guests. We want to answer all your questions and connect with you. I would love to hear from you and chat about all things HR and recruiting. Today I’m joined by Adonis Wooten-Herron. Adonis, pronouns he/him, is a Kansas native residing in Austin, Texas with a career that touches various industries including recruiting, sales, diversity, analytics, and more. As a graduate of Kansas State University’s College of Business with a BS in Marketing and an alum of Fortune 500 companies, Adonis currently serves as the North American Recruiting Lead for Women’s Initiatives, Persons with Disabilities, LGBTQ+ at Accenture. Adonis, welcome to the Workology podcast.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:02:10.96] Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:14.29] I am too. I loved our prep call and I can’t wait for just to, just to be a part of what is coming next with our conversation today.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:02:22.63] Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:24.07] Let’s start with your career conversation. You have a varied background. I love that. Can you tell us a little bit about how this shaped your, just, career and how your experience informs you into the work that you’re doing today at Accenture?

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:02:41.14] Absolutely. I love that question because, on paper, my career looks extremely non-linear. Right? And so it’s one of those things that is always so interesting to talk about. My background is in marketing analytics, but I started in sales. I moved around, did some sales leadership and sales management. Um, I then moved into corporate recruiting where I was leading diversity initiatives, front line recruiting, and kind of moved up the ranks there. Um, and in a former life led North American early career recruiting within the consumer-packaged goods industry before jumping over to technology consulting in the same leadership capacity, just more on the strategy side. So I did not have a roadmap on how to form my career, nor did I really have anyone to look to at the time that looked like me in the space. So, I kind of had to lean on what I knew I was good at. And I think what was so interesting is in sales, it was so funny. They told me, um, you’re so good at sales, you can sell ice to a polar bear, but we can tell that that’s not what your passion is. Your passion isn’t sales. And that was very true. My passion wasn’t sales, but my passion was people and connection and authenticity and meeting them where they were. And so, when I figured out what my passion was, and kind of what my purpose was, I started looking more strategically at how those things can come into play in my career and how I could drive impact.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:04:03.10] Thus led my interest in recruiting and development and having what we call sponsors or people really, uh, investing in me at that time. When I got into HR and recruiting, I started to see all of the things. Right. So, barriers to entry, gatekeeping, um, bias, how we’re developing and learning, how we’re hiring in our initiatives and our strategy, and realized that I could have some really cool control, impact and influence here in senior level leadership to really drive not just a mission forward, but really bring the industries to equity and ensuring that we keep that front facing. And so, there’s not a roadmap to how I develop my career or how I shaped my career. But at some point in the earlier parts of my career, I stopped leading with the title and started leading with the passion. Um, so I knew what I was good at and I knew what I was passionate about. Um, and that really kind of informed how I sit today in my role. I sit in a very interesting position from a recruiting strategy, equity engagement standpoint, and all of my experience with understanding sales at the foundation, the problem discovery, listening for understanding, intentionality, having empathy, meeting people where they are is at the core of what we do.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:05:13.60] And sales really taught me that, strangely enough, and I lived in different market units, as we call them. So I was covering the southeast region. I lived in Birmingham, Alabama. I lived in Dallas, I lived in Minnesota, I traveled out to the East Coast. I’m in New York all the time, and so not only was I understanding how to communicate from a sales perspective, I was understanding regionality and I was understanding what people thought and understanding how, how culture and regionality impact decisions and representation. And so now that I sit in this role leading North America, specific to recruiting strategy and engagement in these particular important parameters of diversity, I never forget my passion and my purpose is people and equity, but I know that I can sell it in and have empathy and have the strategic framework to be able to deliver and meet people where they are, whether there are people- people or data people. And that kind of helps me, um, uh, insignificant of all the barriers that we, uh, face to drive the business forward or drive us forward or drive initiatives forward, which in hindsight really built a very strategic and aligned career, though it doesn’t look always that way on paper.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:19.65] I think people who are listening are probably as excited as I was when we first connected for this podcast. And I think that this particular question about your background, if you wanted just to pull this, send them Adonis’s LinkedIn profile to a hiring manager and just say, look, listen to this human being talk and share and listen to the passion in his voice. And then look at his resume, which is very impressive and very varied. I think this is a case study, for me anyway, of how someone can work in a variety of roles and positions and industries and areas and utilize all the knowledge, your marketing analytics knowledge, your sales knowledge, your diversity knowledge, all these different pieces, and bring it into an area like talent acquisition, recruitment and diversity, and really be able to impact not just the, the industry, but also Accenture and the work that you’re doing, the people that you’re interacting with every single day. So it’s just a testament to me like, don’t judge a book by its cover. Get to know and listen and make your decision on bringing someone into your organization and just think, think differently about skills and experience. You don’t have to have a Ivy League degree to be a valuable member of the team who’s making an impact.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:07:51.09] Absolutely. I think we need to think, and I have this conversation all the time. I don’t think, I know that we need to stop thinking in a vacuum and really look at the big picture of everything and look at the core foundation of skill sets. And I also tell people, I cannot replace your foundational knowledge. That is something that I cannot replace. That foundation of knowledge of connection and equity and passion and really having a tie to what you’re doing. I can’t replace that. What I can do is reskill you in technological languages. We talk about AI, we talk about processes, we talk about cross-industry. That is what we have the capacity to do. So we challenge our hiring managers. And I challenge my, my board of equity. I call them my, my personal board of equity just to think differently about what, what it is that we’re looking for, and not so much in a vacuum, and really tie ourselves to what skill sets, growth skill sets, growth pipelines that we want to really anchor to versus the title, and simply just that technological framework that this person or these candidates may come from. So, it is a learning backwards type of methodology, but it helps when you’re looking at who is going to be around in 5 to 10 years based on core skill sets versus what we can reskill folks in.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:04.11] I love that. Well, let’s switch gears and talk about artificial intelligence because it is such a hot topic. Everywhere we go, it’s all AI, AI. Talk to me and to us about how artificial intelligence technologies are being used right now in recruitment and human resources.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:09:20.61] Absolutely. So, I think we’re really at the beginning phases of that and working at Accenture, and I want to be mindful too, that I work at Accenture but a lot of my thoughts, though they may align with Accenture, at the core, they are thoughts of my own. And we have external resources as well that you can visit. And that’s important for me to mention because we are the industry leader essentially in that data and research. But thinking about how AI is coming into recruiting in HR, it’s such a nuanced conversation, right? Because AI is so new, we understand the capabilities of it, but it still needs to be taught. And so, when you’re talking about AI from a recruitment standpoint, making decisions, making selections, streamlining processes, I don’t know that we will get there timely. And why do I say that is because there can, just like AI can be trained to make decisions, bias can also be trained in these processes. So whether it’s a connectivity, whether it’s a review, whether it’s a skill set, maybe we’re training it to look for certain degrees, or maybe we’re looking at certain schools. It can often be weaponized and be predatory based on the bias of the person that’s training that. Now, AI, artificial intelligence, will continue to learn on its own, essentially, but it has to have a human-engineered initial input. Right. And so when we talk about recruiting in HR, I think we are leagues away from AI making hiring decisions, though it may help us streamline top of funnel functions. We’re far away from that. And I think that’s so incredible because at Accenture, from, from what I see in, in the industry, we have responsible AI.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:10:47.64] We have AI leaders that are leaning into regulation. And how do we train these systems and, and monitor and put checks and balances to ensure that bias is not built into these processes, because we do have to answer for that. Now for AI or for HR and total recruiting functions, what we’re looking at, and I think what’s so incredibly important and exciting for folks to understand is AI can often take those monotonous pieces of your role and monotonous pieces of your day to day and streamline, and so it will make us more efficient. So auto-populating emails or building out presentations or doing some of the not administrative work, but some of that monotonous work that we do need to do in HR and recruiting that are pulling together thoughts and resources. It can do that for us and allow us to streamline. But I think that is a fun conversation to have versus it making decisions for us. It, it driving how we move for us. And I don’t think that we are there in the near future because we, it is still a human trained aspect. So I always tell people, and we talked about this before when we were prepping, should you fear AI? No. But should you be mindful, right, that this is a platform that is centered around how it is trained by human ingenuity, and then it will continue to learn. We need to be investing our time in ourselves to learn ourselves what AI is capable of.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:12:11.97] Stay on top of what it will do. It will shift the industry and is shifting the industry. But understanding for yourself, how? Understanding what that impact means to me. And also be mindful and be open to understanding, hey, how can this actually benefit me? What are, what are the benefits of this? And I always tell people in my last point here, as we talk about AI, kind of in the intersectional efforts of recruiting in HR, I always tell people, and I will never forget this particular aspect of my career; in every season and every role and every career and every change in the industry, you have to remain a student. And the moment that you stop being a student of technological advances, where the industry is going, what your employer is doing, looking at your profit and loss statement, then you are then in a compromising position because you’re waiting for someone to teach you versus going out and seeking understanding. What I will tell you is we don’t know. That’s the long and short of it, right? We don’t always know, because this is a new advancement. These are new technologies. But that does not mean that we need to sit idle and wait for someone to teach us. There’s so many resources out there. So, um, will it advance and help us be streamlined? Absolutely. Um, is there a potential bias in those decision-making processes? Absolutely, because it’s human led. But can we regulate and should we be excited for what’s to come? Absolutely. Especially in HR operations globally.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:35.24] I love that. And what I’m hearing you say is that it’s still early stages. So, if you are not up to speed on artificial intelligence in your role, there’s still time to get access to knowledge, information and resources. But you have to go out and seek out that information.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:13:51.71] Yeah, because no one, I mean, we, we invest a ton of money here at Accenture and in the industry. Let’s be clear. Um, and so we have access to those learnings. Right. And I’m learning day to day at what it can do. But also be mindful, any new technology, I want folks to actually think back over their careers and their lives. Right. When we talk about to the beginning of time, we talk about ingenuity with, with technology in the 2000s, we talk about cell phones, we talk about, um, different systems. When, when Microsoft came around, we talked about Excel and now Power BI. Right. That is the same foundational concept. So we’ve been through this before. Um, and we’ve been through kind of this model before. Is it a different framework, is it a different system, is it a different methodology? Sure. But the absolute core of it is the same. And so understanding that this will continue to shift and change, which is why you’re investing and we’re investing so much in research and development. Right. We don’t know yet. And this will also continue to grow and change. With that though, you have to be open to continuing to grow and change as well.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:14:52.85] One thing you’ll learn about me, Jessica, and like when people, one thing people know about me is I hate not being in the know, right? I hate when I get to a conversation and I don’t know, I don’t know enough to be dangerous. And so I feel like my representation, or my reputation throughout my career, career is Adonis knows enough to be dangerous, right? So I want to implore everyone to know enough to have the conversation, know enough to be dangerous, but also be curious about how this may be impacting. And if you aren’t getting anything, pose that question right. Go to your leaders. What are we thinking about? Right? Because they’re having those conversations. Talk about it amongst your team. You have your group meetings, your team meetings within HR. Have we considered platforms or utilization? Have we considered I know ChatGPT is one thing. Have we considered the utilization of these things? Start that conversation to ensure one, that you aren’t behind, but also making sure that your nonprofit, your company, your industry is not behind as well, waiting to be taught versus going out and seeking.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:49.25] I love it and thank you for all the great insights. I mean, one of the reasons why I continue to do this podcast, and I started this podcast, was to talk to smart people and learn from them and get up to speed and become dangerous in specific topics. And I don’t know, I’ve probably done at least 50 interviews with people talking specifically about AI in our space of hiring, recruitment, and human resources. I will include some links for you, including some books and resources, as well as a couple courses in the show notes here. So, if you’re like, yes, I’m ready to dive in. It’s okay to just be getting started. We will get you up to speed. You just have to have a little bit of information to create conversation, curiosity, and it’s okay to test and retest and learn from other people. We all are not experts. I’m definitely not an expert in this area. It’s okay.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:16:45.47] Neither am I and I think no one is right now. So I think that is what brings me, that’s why I get excited. And I hope that whoever is listening and you all can hear the excitement and why I talk about what I do is because it’s exciting, but it’s also unknown. But I always tell people when you look back when you started your career, started a job, wasn’t that unknown to you? When you look back to when you started a new role, or a new activity or a new hobby, wasn’t that new and exciting to you? When you travel to somewhere for the first time and you experience something for the first time, wasn’t that exciting and new to you? Wasn’t it scary? Did you not know? And so I think we often, uh, take ourselves out of the equation and forget this is actually a truly human experience as well, though we’re talking about technology. And so, if you center yourself around learning and development and this is exciting and I want to jump in, this is also pretty scary because I don’t know, you will always be in the driver’s seat because you’re not again, and I will reinforce this, you’re not waiting for someone to teach you. You’re going out and seeking it because you’re hungry, and that is where you arm yourself with enough to be dangerous. And would I mean by dangerous is enough to get into the room, to have the conversation and then sit and absorb. So then you can have more conversations and continue to drive forward.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:02.09] Let’s dive in and talk a little bit about the benefits and barriers of AI in hiring technologies. Let’s just address the elephant in the room, because I think there’s a lot of fear. And again, it’s new. But I would like us to focus on the impact that AI can have on people with disabilities and members of other underrepresented groups. Can you talk to us about that a little bit?

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:18:26.30] Absolutely. And I’ll kind of lean on the caveat as well. Um, just my thoughts in general, though I work at Accenture, not always representing the firm. And so here are some of my personal thoughts. And I can even talk to you a little bit about what’s actually happening here at Accenture, but just making sure we make that, that difference. And so, as I mentioned before, AI is pretty tricky, especially when we’re trying to, or our assumptive nature is that it’s going to be making hiring decisions or selection decisions for us. I will tell you, some big companies and some companies, uh, here that are in our platform, that are in our ecosystem, that we know in the industry have already come out and say, hey, we’re not in the mode to let AI make our hiring decisions for us. We understand, as I mentioned before, when you’re talking about artificial intelligence, even systems that are not AI, but are, um, kind of predictive. So Power BI, even Excel, that takes human input to train that system first. And so ensuring that we have checks and balances in place. And I also want to be very clear, it’s also going to take regulation when we talk about making recruiting decisions.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:19:53.24] Because we’re not allowing AI to make decisions, we’re not allowing AI to make selections. What we are seeking, and I think what’s so interesting and what I’m looking into is how does it streamline some of those day-to-day processes. And so how does it make connections? How do we get people aligned to roles? Can it do things like that, versus making a hiring decision? I will tell you now, I don’t know that we will ever get to a place where AI will completely make a hiring selection and decision for us, because to me, that is, um, will take so much regulation because we have to ensure at any point in the process that bias is eliminated. Similar to how we train our humans, like our humans are people, similar to how we put those checks and balances in place, and we audit those processes as well. That’s the same thing. And I think we’re leaps and bounds away from that. And so, when I think AI, and I’ll go back to my previous point, when I think AI or technological advances, start thinking about how it can help you streamline processes. And for corporations and businesses, not allowing that or with the plan to allow that to make hiring decisions for you. Um, we are way beyond that, but how it can help and elevate our current processes. So I don’t know, I don’t know if I want to instill some comfort or, uh, instill some camaraderie within the audience to say, hey, we’re not letting, and we should not be letting, at this point, AI make hiring selections and decisions for us because we don’t have regulation, and it’s not necessarily trained to do that.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:21:18.92] Um, but we should be mindful of the advancements that it can provide us in terms of streamlining some, again, some of those monotonous day-to-day. Um, will it get there in the future? I have no idea. I didn’t expect it to get here this fast. Right. And I will lean on how we’ve seen the industry shape before. Um, if you would have asked me back in 2002 if we would be seeing, uh, everyone move to electric vehicles or AI even being a part of the conversation back then, I probably would have told you I don’t know what you’re talking about. Here we are in the 2024 things and that is where we are, and that’s what we’re doing. Um, and so I speak with a bit of padding around that, but I want to be mindful that equity is still at the core of what we do. Equity is still at the core of decision makings. Um, and I think we’re taking a stand, not I think we’re taking a stand, but in this industry, when we’re talking consulting and technology, being mindful that bias can be built into these processes and even into AI. And we have to be very, very, very responsible. And we have to be very mindful of, of what we do and how we do it with these particular resources as they continue to grow, develop and learn and adjust across industries, across platforms, but specific to recruiting and HR globally.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:31.31] Thank you for all that. I do just want to point out to listeners that it is still really new, uh, artificial intelligence. Things will change as regulations and just things, it just is evolving. It’s a moving target. So um, it, we, I don’t, I agree with you. I don’t see us having hiring decisions and everything completely being made by artificial intelligence. Not right now and not in the near future.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:23:13.85] And I hope this maybe encourages some people to, to start posing these questions. I always tell people, when one person talks about it, it’s important. When 50,000 people talk about it, it’s a priority. Um, and so I think, as we continue to elevate these conversations, and you don’t have to be a subject matter expert, and I want to reiterate this. You don’t even have to; you have to know enough to be dangerous. Sure. But pose the question, hey, are we considering or did we think about or have we talked about or in our minds, do we, have we considered this? And oftentimes it’s like, oh, I don’t, I don’t think we considered that. And it ends up birthing a whole conversation. And so there’s one thing for the conversation to be happening around you, and there’s another thing for you to be in it. And so for those that really are concerned and those that are really having those conversations, remain a student was my first point. But make sure that you’re in the conversation and not just around the conversation. And I think that will bring a lot of solace to you and comfort to you to know, hey, I’m in the know about regulation, and I, I understand what a company like an Accenture or Google is doing. And I understand a little bit about technology and oh, I’m watching AWS in the market. Oh, and I’m seeing Deloitte posting some of these roles. And oh, I’m seeing a little bit about regulation happening globally and, but not really here. So I know what questions to ask. And oh, I’m going to go and read these books and listen to these podcasts and talk to these folks. So therefore you’re in it and surrounding yourself with it. So you’re in the know and it’s not just, again, happening around you.

Break: [00:24:40.89] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrill, and you are listening to the Workology podcast powered by Ace the HR exam and Upskill HR. Today we are talking with Adonis Wooten-Herron, the North American recruiting lead for women’s initiatives, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ+ at Accenture. This podcast is part of our Future of Work series and is powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. If you have questions or want to chat about all things related to the podcast, head on over to our Instagram account. It’s @workologyblog and just comment on our pinned post. It’s the one with me with a podcast like headset and mic. Just put the word podcast and comment and we can connect to where you can ask questions, leave comments and make suggestions for future podcast guests. I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:25:32.57] The Workology podcast Future of Work series is supported by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. PEAT’s initiative is to foster collaboration and action around accessible technology in the workplace. PEAT is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP. Learn more about PEAT at PEATWorks.org. That’s PEATWorks.org.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:01.22] I want to talk a little bit about intersectionality, because I think this is incredibly important in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility conversations. But let’s talk about intersectionality in the context of AI, with that disability, diversity, inclusion, accessibility lens.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:26:21.08] Absolutely. Well, what is funny Jessica, when I think back to intersectionality, I think five to ten years ago, that word didn’t even, it existed always, but it wasn’t a buzzword. Right. And, but then as we moved into the DE&I space, we talk about post George Floyd, we talk about 2020, COVID, all of those things, and we talk about these huge initiatives that came. Intersectionality became so important because we, at one point, we were bringing one form of ourself to the conversation, and it was the form that people could see. And then, just giving a little lesson on intersectionality, and then we realized, oh, I’m all of these things, right? Because out of COVID, going, going to be completely transparent. That’s when the real, to me, from what I’ve seen in HR and recruiting, that’s when the real neurodiversity conversation came to the forefront, because we were revealing so much and we were being so open. And then we thought, oh my goodness, there’s such a population here when we talk about intersectionality. The thing about intersectionality, specific to what I believe AI can do, um, and what I believe the whole DE&I conversation is, is we cannot forget that people are complex. And so there, there are often times that people don’t fall into one bucket, they don’t fall into one thing, they don’t identify as one thing.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:27:34.16] And oftentimes, let’s be clear, when we’re talking about AI in the context of HR and talent acquisition, AI aside, when we’re talking about decision making skills, there’s often times where candidates in recruiting, people that work for the company don’t even reveal their parameters of diversity. Right. And so, if we’re waiting for AI to make those conversations and make those connections, it won’t, right? Because that takes a human revealing that information. And then we can act. So going back to the decision-making piece. But intersectionality is so incredibly important. But at the root of that is someone needs to trust the company. Someone needs to trust recruiting, someone needs to have trust in the space that they’re in to be able to actually reveal those things, right. And being able to actually have those conversations. Also being mindful of how organizations and companies collect that information, right. And utilize that information. So, to go back to the original point, intersectionality is incredibly important and also is something that grows throughout the life cycle of a person as they enter into a corporation or enter into a business. And so I want to be mindful of how important that is, because we are not just one thing. I’m not just Black. I’m not just a male. I’m not just a, what we identify as a millennial.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:28:49.10] I’m also gay, right? I, um, am spiritual. I’m all of these things that flow into my identity, and they all impact not just how I show up in the world, but how I move through systems, how I move through roles, how I speak, how I have passion, what I know, what I’m attached to, what I do. And that then impacts what I then need to be successful. What I need is very different than what my counterpart needs. I don’t have kids, I’m single, so my lifestyle is different, meaning I need something different. And so I think intersectionality is not just so incredibly important to the conversation. It’s culture moving and it’s culture shifting. And it’s, it’s an imperative as we talk through what inclusion that word, that ending piece, what inclusion then looks like in the firm. Now, as I mentioned, or in companies or in, really, in the nation, right. As I think of the context of AI, my, my, my foundation is still the same as the previous questions. Right? It’s not a decision-making thing. Right. It’s a streamlining thing at this point. But intersectionality is a business imperative when it comes to the DE&I conversation, because your people and people are more than just what they are seen as. Um, there are different parameters, meaning they may need something different to be successful.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:03.75] That trust piece is so important. I think that we, as organizations, not just HR or TA, have a long way to go in terms of building that trust so that everyone can feel included and be comfortable to show up as their whole self at the organization. So we have, we have a long way to go.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:31:14.10] I, I believe that I was just on a call with some of my counterparts in the Philippines, and we have like our global organization, um, and they, they came to me and they were like, hey, Adonis, we just need a reminder for our team about building empathy and trust throughout the recruiting process. Can you come in and just talk to us a little bit about what you do? Because we’ve gotten feedback that you know how to build rapport quickly and trust quickly. And a few things that I told to them, especially as recruiters, we cannot move so quickly to fill a role that it becomes monotonous, that it becomes just a day-to-day thing. And that’s often not even the fault of the recruiter, it’s the fault of how we need to move to fill roles. We’ve got a short timeline of pipeline to fill, but what I told the recruiting and sourcing arms is, I said, you have to remember why we do what we do, and if your passion and at the core of you is not to create equitable experiences for people, to listen for understanding, to listen with intention, to ask intentional questions about what folks need to be successful, to take a second to, to kind of breathe air into the room. If you cannot do that, this is not the role, the industry, the type of work you should be doing.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:32:19.86] And I have a track record and something that I’m so passionate about, is within a 30-minute interview, we can be best friends. We can, we can be connected because 1) I come to the conversation sharing who I am authentically. I’m sharing my, my experiences. I’m being honest. But then I let you speak and I want you to get it out. And I want you to tell me about yourself. And I want to ask questions, and I want to probe, and I want to be excited. I want to give you some personality and passion. I want to make sure that you get what you, what you need. I want to go over five minutes if we have to, right. And so understanding that we have a privilege to be the gatekeepers as recruiting of how people make it through or make it into our process. We can never forget what we needed in the recruitment process. I will never forget my first interview and my experience during my first interview, versus an experience that I had with an interviewer that was engaging, that was strategic, that was exciting, that wanted to hear what I had to say, that built trust, that I can open up and ask questions and knew that it wouldn’t hurt me in the process. And so I want to be mindful to my recruiting leaders and to my recruiters and HR that are working so hard and so diligent based on processes that are put on you by your company.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:33:29.43] Never forget what you needed and imagine what you need now and what you would need now if you’re going through that process. Um, and also I want to, I want to speak very quickly to, to my folks in the market that may be jaded by your recruiting experience or have a negative recruiting experience or may have had multiple recruiting experiences. I want you to be mindful that it was never you, and oftentimes it’s not you. Um, it’s just the fact of the system. But what I want to also admire in that fact is one company and one experience I am hopeful should not impact your entire view of what recruiting looks like across industries. And so I challenge my recruiters and I challenge my companies, um, that are listening to be mindful of your culture and make sure culture and action is very real. Um, and that you are passionate about what you’re saying. And to my people in the market that are looking for roles and may have had a negative experience within recruiting, it does get better. And one bad experience does not pivot or show the impact of all recruiters. But I will tell you, change does need to happen across all parameters to ensure 1) that we’re creating the best experience.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:34:38.10] Not a fluffy experience, not something that’s padded and unauthentic and unreal, but a good real experience for people making sure that they feel safe and that they can trust the organization. Being authentic, having real conversations, being honest about the role, being honest about the company rather than just doing it to get it out of the way. Now I got 30 minutes, so I’m going to run through these same questions. I’m not going to have any inflections in my tone. I’m just going to run through. That is not creating a safe environment for people to truly show you what they’ve got. Um, versus being intentional, listening for understanding and being comfortable bringing your full self. And that ultimately for the recruiter, that corporations fall on the culture of the company and how they involve. And you may be the change agent that is impactful or needing to shift that. And so I wanted to speak just very, very, very quickly to, to my recruiting folks, because I’ve been frontline recruiting. I get what we’re going through, but we cannot forget why we do what we do and also what privilege, impact and, um, push through we have as being the gatekeepers of potential roles for people to change their lives within companies.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:44.31] Well said. We are the, we can change lives with, for individuals with one job opportunity. It can be the difference maker to set them on a completely different life path.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:35:55.41] Absolutely. And that, that I will never, I when, all the days that I’m feeling like this is too much like, oh my gosh, I’m exhausted. I cannot do this. It’s so much. I mean, I am, I’m anchoring North America for pillars, right? So it’s a lot, it’s coming at you from a lot of different directions. I never forget that my purpose and my passion was always people. It was always people. It was always equity. How the avenue at which that showed up in was different. It was sales. It was recruiting, it was leadership, it was strategy. It was analytics, it was data. But my passion is always people. As long as you can build and always get back to, why do I do what I do? That helps you out. Now what I will tell you, and I’m going to be quite frank, I told, I told the team here this, on my, on the meeting I had a few, few days ago. If you can’t, if that’s not your passion, if you can’t attach yourself to something that you’re passionate about, you may need to find another role. You may need to find something else to do. Because if you’re just doing it, to do it, that’s not fair to you. That’s not fair to the recruit. And that’s ultimately not fair, fair to the sanctity of the culture of the company that you’re representing. And so I want to be mindful that you, there has to be something there, right? Especially as we’re creating experiences. And my last point is recruiters are often the first representation of the company. You’re often the first interaction that somebody has with your organization. How upsetting would it be for that first interaction with the company of great culture, of great size to be a negative one? So be mindful that though we have a privilege, we also have a responsibility as recruiting and HR leadership.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:32.76] Thank you.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:33.81] I want to finish things off. And maybe have you leave us with maybe one key thing that some of our listeners can jot down in their notes app right now that HR professionals and recruiters can do to be more intentional about how they use artificial intelligence.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:37:52.55] That’s a my, my one point, and it’s going to be pretty bland. My one point is remain a student. Remain a student. Ask questions. Go out and seek information. Be and know enough to be dangerous. And then do something with that information. Doing something with that information can look like the following ways: Now that I know, let me elevate this to our changemakers. Let me elevate this to my lead. Let me talk to this on, let me talk about this on an all-hands. Let me make this a point to have a conversation. Let me join the community that’s having these conversations. As we’re talking about the development of AI, as we’re talking about HR and TA, as we’re talking about all the changes you’ve got to remain a student and not wait for someone to teach you, but go out and seek that knowledge and to know enough to be dangerous, because you could, and you often might be, the change agent in your organization that pushes you forward from those technological advances. Very simple. Um, but remaining a student will serve you well, especially in the age of new technology, data and AI over the course of the next decade. So that is my, my piece. And I’m not saying that to be funny. I’m not saying that as a nice to have. I’m telling you because that’s what I’m doing. Uh, and that’s what I, that’s what I’m doing day to day because I don’t know anything. I, I do not know anything. And I will laugh about that all day. I know just enough to be dangerous, but I don’t know anything at the same time. And so, in that fact, we all have something to learn, but we also have a responsibility to do something with that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:22.40] Adonis, I appreciate our conversation so much. We’re going to link to your LinkedIn profile. It’s Adonis Wooten-Herron from Accenture. So many great insights. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us here today.

Adonis Wooten-Herron: [00:39:36.71] I thank you for all of that. And if anybody wants to reach out and have a conversation, I’m more than happy to either plug you in or get you to the right space or have a conversation directly. But thank you for the time today.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:46.58] Absolutely.

Closing: [00:39:47.69] Considering how artificial intelligence can impact people with disabilities is not only a matter of ethical responsibility and social justice, but also a strategic imperative for organizations seeking to build inclusive and diverse workplaces. By addressing accessibility, mitigating bias, accommodating individual needs, and fostering compliance, organizations can leverage AI to enhance their recruitment practices while promoting equity and inclusivity for all candidates. Thank you to Adonis for taking the time to chat with us. I have so many great resources we are putting in the show notes, so head on over to this podcast episode show notes for more information about how you can get up to speed and learn and grow and develop and become more informed about the area of artificial intelligence and how we might be able to apply it and use it in our own jobs as HR and TA leaders. Check out the resources at the end of this podcast. I so appreciate Adonis’ insights. It was a joy to chat with him. Definitely one of my favorite podcast episodes and such an important one for our Future of Work series powered by PEAT. I want to thank you for joining this podcast. I would love to connect with you. Head on over to my Instagram @workologyblog. There’s a pinned Instagram post with me with headphones and a mic. Comment the Word podcast so that we can connect, leave comments and you can make suggestions for future podcast guests. I want to hear from you. Again, thank you for joining this episode of the Workology podcast powered by upskill HR and Ace the HR exam. We’ll talk to you soon.