Check out these examples of fair process, a decision-making approach that gives those most impacted by a decision the opportunity to help shape it.
Example 1: Hiring a Chief Operating Officer
SaveTheForests is a 40-person anti-deforestation advocacy group that’s experiencing a wave of rapid growth. After consulting with the leadership team members and some other staff within the organization, the CEO announces (in tell mode) to all staff that they will be hiring a Deputy Director. They plan to run an open process and have created a shortlist of candidates to bring into the interview process. The CEO (the decision-maker/hiring manager) uses fair process to finalize the job description and in the hiring process.
The CEO did the following:
- Had 1-1 conversations with the people who would eventually be the new Deputy Director’s direct reports to get input for defining the must-haves of the role. They approach these conversations in “joint” decision-making mode because they want full consensus from their leadership team on what the Deputy Director will be responsible for.
- Asked team leads to use team meetings to get feedback from their staff about the first draft of must-haves (in test mode).
- Invited a diverse cross-section of team members to participate in the hiring process.
- After the hiring process started, they shared progress updates at biweekly staff meetings.
Explanation and expectation clarity
The CEO informed staff of the final decision first via email (see below) and then announced it on a staff call. Where role expectations or management structures changed as a result of the new hire, those changes were communicated by department heads in meetings and in 1-1 check-ins with managers.
In a leadership team meeting, the CEO and other senior staff set aside 20 minutes to talk about the process of hiring for a new role within the organization. They asked themselves:
- What worked well in the process of crafting the job description and in hiring?
- What could we do differently next time?
CEO’s email to senior staff about finalized job description
Thanks again for your thoughtful and helpful feedback on the Deputy Director job description! You helped me get a crisper understanding of the role and what’s needed. I’m happy to report that the job description (attached) is final and will be posted by the end of the week. I’ll also send an all-staff email once we have posted the job description.
Here’s a quick summary of the major changes:
- I took out the entire section about external work. I really wrestled with this because I can see this being an important part of the role in the future. But many of you shared that it’s not a pivotal part of the role and made the job description too unrealistic, and I agree. I did add one sentence about possibly doing limited external work so that it’s not a surprise down the line if the opportunity arises.
- I revised the sections on internal management to better reflect the breakdown of the work: (1) program management; (2) overseeing non-programmatic organizational functions; and (3) building and driving the systems that pull it all together and create a culture of excellence.
- I’m keeping the must-haves vs. nice-to-haves as-is. There were a few disagreements on a few of these that I want to clarify:
- I’m keeping the “direct experience or experience leading finance, operations, development, and HR teams” as a nice-to-have (instead of making it a must-have, as suggested by some of you). My rationale is that the programmatic work is the top priority (hence must-have) and that a highly competent person could learn the operations skills if they don’t have them already. I don’t want to compromise the must-have on the programmatic work and I worry that having both programmatic and operations experience as must-haves would create an unnecessary barrier for potential candidates who have the skills but not the experience.
- I decided against stipulating a number of years of experience. Realistically, we’re looking for someone with considerable experience (this is obviously a very senior role), but again, we don’t want to create unnecessary barriers for potential candidates. Thanks to everyone who pushed my thinking on this!
- I trimmed the organization description because all of you told me it was too long!
Thank you again for all your help getting this far! Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.
CEO’s announcement email to all staff
I’m delighted to announce that XYZ will be joining us as our first-ever Deputy Director. XYZ will start on June 1st and will work from our San Francisco office.
Big thanks to AB for owning the hiring process from end to end and completing it in a record eight weeks. While I was the final decision-maker, I had the good fortune of being supported by a stellar interviewing team of PQ, RS, DQ, EY, and PW. Thank you to everyone who shared input on our must-haves and the draft job description. Lastly, I also want to give a shout-out to the people who expressed concerns about creating this role—hearing your concerns helped me anticipate some challenges that will come with introducing a new role during this time of growth.
We had 50 applicants, out of which 20 passed the initial screen. We moved 6 to second-round interviews and simulations. We had two finalists—and while XYZ is not based in Seattle as we would have preferred, we thought she was the best overall fit. So, we made the trade-off on her location and she has committed to traveling to Seattle two days per week.
Some of you will feel the (hopefully positive) impacts of this new role more than others—in those cases, we’ve already had a conversation about changes and expectations. For everyone else, expect to discuss this in your next check-in with your manager.
I’m delighted that we’ve arrived at this outcome and I hope each of you will support XYZ’s smooth transition into this role!
Example 2: Developing an organizational policy
LegalStars is an organization that provides pro bono legal services to low-income community members. Over the last three years, they’ve grown from 10 staff to a group of more than 50 and have grown significantly in terms of racial and gender diversity. In the last annual benefits survey, some staff members requested more trans-inclusive health benefits, given that their health insurance policy doesn’t fully cover some trans-specific healthcare-related expenses, creating a greater financial, psychological, and emotional burden for trans and gender non-conforming staff. After reviewing the survey results, the HR Director (a cisgender queer woman) approaches the ED with a proposal to create a transgender inclusion policy that includes a trans and gender non-conforming health fund supplement.
The ED is generally amenable to the idea, but she wants to make sure that they use fair process to determine what to include in the policy. She also wants to make sure that they design a policy that will be financially feasible as the organization continues to grow. She asks the HR Director to lead the process of gathering input from the most impacted staff and other stakeholders (in consult mode) and make a recommendation to the ED, who will be the final approver.
The HR Director did the following (in consult mode):
- Invited self-identified trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming staff to participate in confidential 1-1 conversations with aim to better understand challenges and needs around trans inclusion within the organizational culture and policies.
- Facilitated a group discussion with the staff LGBTQ caucus so that they could share their experiences as LGBTQ staff and brainstorm ideas to improve the experiences of LGBTQ—and in particular, TGNC—staff at the organization.
- Had 1-1 conversations with the finance and operations leads with initial ideas to check on the budget and operations implications. Used a pros, cons, and mitigations chart to surface concerns and mitigations around feasibility and sustainability.
Then, she did the following (in test mode):
- After consulting with the ED and the organization’s lawyers, shared an initial draft of a policy with staff who participated in 1-1s and invited feedback by email, in 1-1s, and through optional office hours.
- Followed up with staff to clarify where feedback and ideas were incorporated, where they weren’t, and why (e.g., because of legal requirements or financial considerations).
- Solicited feedback on subsequent drafts from a handful of people on the team.
Explanation and expectation clarity
Once the ED approved the policy, the HR Director emailed all staff with the updated policy (see below).
The ED and HR Director debrief the process and schedule a time to revisit the decision after three months of implementation of the policy and again the following year as part of their annual review of the personnel manual. In subsequent conversations, the HR Director and ED will check the data about how and by whom the policy is used to make sure it’s really benefiting those most impacted.
HR Director’s email announcement
I’m excited to announce a new benefit! We’re rolling out a Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Health Fund Supplement to retroactively take effect on Jan 1, 20XX.
What is the policy?
The Transgender Inclusion policy is attached: a 2-page policy and 1-page reimbursement form. You can also find the policy and form saved in our shared folder.
- Trans and gender non-conforming employees (with the intention that these terms encompass everyone that identifies as part of the trans spectrum) who work for LegalStars 60% time or more are eligible for a supplemental trans and GNC health benefits package, at no cost to employees, that can be used after submitting to insurance.
- Employees covered by the policy will accrue $XXX per month, with maximum annual accrual at $YYYY.
- Employees only need to submit a simple reimbursement request form (attached) to the Finance Coordinator and will be reimbursed within XX business days.
Why are we doing this?
We are enacting this benefit to align our HR policies with our values of equity, inclusion, and belonging. All staff should have the right to access high-quality care that allows them to be happier and healthier. Trans and GNC employees may have health care or health-related expenses associated with their gender identity that cisgender employees don’t have, and we want to alleviate those burdens as much as we can.
When does it take effect?
- Retroactive to Jan 1, 20XX.
- If you qualify for this benefit and have any reimbursements to submit for between Jan 1 and today, you can submit to the Finance Coordinator using the attached reimbursement form.
I have questions! Where do I go?
- Me, HR Director!
- If you have specific questions about the administration of reimbursements, contact our finance team.
- This policy has been suggested by trans and gender non-conforming staff at LegalStars for a few years and I’m excited we’re able to make these changes now.
- Huge appreciations to staff who raised this idea in our most recent benefits survey.
- Thank you to the following folks for their feedback and input throughout:
- Ciara and Ellis: For clarifying the Budget and Operations pieces of the policy.
- Roz, Fatima, CJ, and Jordan: For reviewing drafts of the policy & providing helpful content and editorial feedback.
- ED for approving.
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback!