‘Education Means Zip’: Kellogg’s Leslie Salmon Solves Technology’s Class Problem

“I never look at my educational background on my resume.”

It’s a strict rule that Leslie Salmon, Global CIO of grain giant Kellogg Company, follows when hiring.

“[Education] As far as I’m concerned, it means zip. Even if someone saw my education, they wouldn’t have hired me or given me a chance.”

Proud to come from a working-class background — her father was a milkman — Lesley is outspoken about the fact that she “failed” an A-level and never went to college ( Her son is a “first generation college”).

Thirty years later, she leads IT at one of the world’s largest CPG companies.

Leslie Salmon

we talked about before almost Importance of role models By opening up the tech industry to minority groups. Leslie is passionate about this topic, not just for women, but for people from all walks of life.

“The more I can show my background, the more tolerant people might be of not seeing education itself.”

collective action

Illustrations showing people dressed appropriately for various manual and office-based jobs

The middle class dominates technology (and journalism, I must admit). People with comfortable backgrounds who have access to opportunities and experiences not available to others. Especially at the advanced level.

It is difficult to know the actual number, but This 2021 report According to the Sutton Trust charity, 67% of UK skilled workers have a ‘professional/managerial background’ and 21% attend private or paid school. UK average 5.8%.

Expanding the Technician Recruitment Pool is the obvious way to deal with lack of skillsand a lower emphasis on education opens the door to new candidates.

Kellogg’s loveless The project includes working with schools and other institutions to bring more people into STEM, including young girls and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In some cases, they are at a serious disadvantage. Some of the children the company works with are in the care system.

These kids haven’t even taken the tram from one side of Manchester to the other.

“We’re starting with disadvantaged schools in disadvantaged areas,” says Leslie. “It’s not easy…There are so many children from care systems who are on protection orders.”

The team also had to confirm their own preconceptions. Lesley describes a situation where she went to a partner school to discuss international travel opportunities. Afterwards, the teacher told them, “These children had never even taken a tram to travel from one side of Manchester to the other.

“Just because you open the door and show it, just because you live five miles from Kellogg’s office doesn’t mean you can’t work for Kellogg. [was important]’ says Leslie. Because it can be very overwhelming for them. “

It’s “about our own prejudices,” she continues. [the children face] Don’t even get into your psyche as a privileged person working at Kellogg’s. “

Sometimes it’s also about other people’s prejudices. Leslie waved her hand when asked if about half of the group of girls she once spoke to had been told to “completely stop” her career or not have a career in tech specifically. mentioned.

“A lot of it comes from home. So interacting with girls is great. Because we need to teach them that they can be whatever they want to be.

Back view shot of a young woman and child having a conversation on the porch

patience and understanding

When talking about socioeconomic challenges and unconscious biases, “I don’t think there’s anything bigger than a child being cared for,” says Leslie.

She admits to being “totally ignorant” of the challenges faced by children in the system.

“Even starting work on time is a real challenge. The concept of having to go to work every day and start at the right time every day is a real wake-up call for grown children. .

“They had never had that kind of structure in their lives, and they didn’t have the role models they see every day.The workplace is the starting point.”

Another big challenge is managing hopes and expectations.

“Don’t let them think they have a chance when they’re not 100 percent sure they have a chance because these kids have had so many opportunities pulled out from under them. ”

“If you say, ‘There might be an opportunity or an opportunity or a job in this field,’ and then you go back and say, ‘Oh, sorry, there wasn’t.’…they are very receptive to that.” very personally.”

Facing business shoes and casual shoes

Recruiting predicament

We know that expanding your hiring pool pays off, but there’s a reason recruiters are already prioritizing some candidates over others.

Middle-class applicants tend to have more or no workplace exposure, not just their educational background, and share experience with existing IT professionals, giving them an edge.

Giving people of such different backgrounds (on paper it probably looks like one of them was clearly selected) an equal weight in applying for the same role is “very It Is difficult.

It’s the interviewer’s responsibility to “bring out the best in the person you’re interviewing,” says Leslie. It recommends trying to “make them successful.”

“Hear from the people you’re interviewing stories of how they show perseverance and determination in what they’ve accomplished in life. He may have been the go-to person in the care home…

“It doesn’t matter what the situation they describe. If they played a responsible role, or if they showed grit and determination, they showed courage and brought new ideas. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, it’s the right experience to bring into the workplace.”

Of course, most roles require a certain level of skill and intelligence, but Leslie’s core tenet is that experience and education should never be a reason to discount someone from the hiring process.

Some IT departments are already doing this, employee retraining People who have demonstrated their abilities in other departments. Kellogg’s is one of them.

“I always try to make IT as open and accessible as possible for anyone who may have started life as a factory line worker in one of our factories when doing factory visits and such. …I’ve had warehouse pickers work on my projects and I thought, ‘You have something. played the role of “

Breaking down barriers to hiring is difficult. It takes a lot of work, and the IT leaders driving it must implicitly believe it’s worth doing.

There may be difficult conversations with other departments, and there may be difficult introspections considering your own preconceptions. Ultimately, however, it is only through work like this that DE&I moves from crude, intangible promises to solid realities.

If social mobility solutions were easy, we would already be doing it.

Do you have any experience with the subject of this talk? We look forward to hearing from you.

https://www.computing.co.uk/interview/4074251/education-means-zip-kellogs-lesley-salmon-solving-techs-class ‘Education Means Zip’: Kellogg’s Leslie Salmon Solves Technology’s Class Problem

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