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Etsy’s CHRO is recruiting internally to fix the leaky pipeline: ‘We’ve invested a lot in finding this talent’

September 16, 2022, 11:43 AM UTC
Kim Seymour
Kim Seymour, chief human resources officer at Etsy, is doubling down on developing the company's internal talent.
Courtesy of Etsy

Good morning!

Kim Seymour is focused on the pipeline—the tech talent pipeline that is. The new CHRO of Etsy joined the digital marketplace in April of this year and is taking strides to double down on developing the internal talent she’s inherited. This week, the company launched a new development program meant to help map out the career paths of its workers.

Etsy has for a long time led the industry in gender diversity, with a workforce comprised of about 47% women. But Seymour recognizes the company still has a long way to go in developing and retaining underrepresented talent. On par with many other tech companies, Black and Hispanic employees accounted for just 6.1% and 6.3% of Etsy’s U.S. employees in 2021, respectively, according to a report by Protocol. It’s a pipeline issue, for sure. But the solution, Seymour says, lies in making it everyone’s problem to solve. 

“It’s not HR’s job. It’s everybody’s job,” she says. “It’s everyone’s job to move the needle because it is ingrained in who we think we are [as a company].” Seymour spoke with Fortune about how she’s thinking about the future of Etsy’s talent pipeline and why she’s prioritizing internal talent. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Fortune: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘talent pipeline?’

The first thing I think about is our internal talent and whether we’re making sure they’re getting the feedback and development they need in order to be appropriate for the jobs that we have. We’ve invested a lot in finding this talent, landing them, keeping them. So if we have open roles, that should be our first hunting ground before we even talk about the pipeline externally. 

What initiatives have you developed to help move your internal talent through the pipeline? 

A couple of things. [This week] we’re rolling out a program called “Pathways,” which is a series of development opportunities, curriculum, [and] different competencies that are going to help people to choose for themselves where they want to go and how we can help them get there.

We are still paying attention to our entry-level pipelines through an apprenticeship program. We’re focused on people who don’t historically have access to this type of training and curriculum that are maybe self taught. We have a whole curriculum that teaches how to work in the tech space, and we’re in our second year of that. The first year was really successful. We hired all the people that we brought into that program, and they are still here. 

What initiatives are you most excited about?

Some of them are just what I’ll call BAU initiatives—business as usual initiatives, which is important to infuse this mindset within everything we do. So, for example, the way that we interview people is very deliberate. It’s focused on eliminating as much bias out of the system as possible, and it’s not an easy thing. It is very structured. It was required that everyone learn how to do it. 

With racial and ethnic diversity, we’re focusing on where we’re having an issue with people showing up in our population. For us, we know it is Hispanic, African American, and Native American from an ethnicity standpoint. Even looking at the leadership level, we’re thinking of how to expand there.

What’s the biggest misconception within HR about the talent pipeline? 

People will always have options, so don’t act like they don’t and get complacent. Invest in their development, invest in their aspirations, invest in making sure that they are connected to your company, your mission, and to each other. All of that is investing in your culture, and that is usually the secret sauce for any company when you’re trying to create a place where people want to stay and thrive. It does not happen by accident. You’ve got to be intentional about it.

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

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