Helping Every Company Build More Inclusive Products
May 26, 2020
At LinkedIn, we believe two people with equal talent should have equal access to job opportunities. But for equal access to become a reality, we must build products and programs responsibly to ensure they empower individuals regardless of their background or social status. This is true now more than ever as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified already challenging social inequity.
We start by asking a simple question: How can we ensure that our products and features work equally for everyone? Simply put, how can we level the playing field for all job seekers? This begins by understanding the impact of the products we build and how different audiences engage with them. Today, we're going a step further by sharing how we think about the unintended consequences and open-sourcing the model we use to measure the impact of our products.
Measuring the impact of the changes we make
Last year, we rolled out a new feature called ‘Instant Job Notifications’ that sends a push notification to active job seekers as soon as a new, relevant job is posted. Our research showed that applicants who apply to a job within the first few days are more likely to be seen by a recruiter.
After launching it, we found this feature had a significant equalizing effect—it matched the right job to the right people, regardless of their engagement on the platform or the breadth and depth of their connections. Push notifications helped every job seeker—not just those who are privileged with high social capital—to apply for the jobs they were qualified for and to be seen.
This inspired us to invest in “Project Every Member,” a cross-functional effort to ensure our products do not have unintended consequences by reinforcing social inequalities, like the network gap and other advantages people have based on social or economic status. This project has allowed us to measure the equalizing effects of any new products or features that we build AND to keep an eye out for unintended consequences.
Our engineers developed a new metric that asks: “Does this feature increase or decrease inequality among our members?” and “Does this feature benefit members with low social capital as much as it benefits well-connected members?” Based on the measurements, our team can make modifications aimed at benefiting all members, no matter how different.
Helping every company build more inclusive products
This is part of our broader effort to close the network gap and make sure everyone has a fair shot at finding and accessing opportunities, regardless of their background or connections. But we can’t close the gap on our own. The only way we can make a meaningful impact is if we all work together to address the inequalities.
The ‘Every Member’ model is now live and accessible—so that every company and industry can work to build more inclusive and equitable products and programs. You can learn more about the software here.
As the global economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19, our efforts to create economic opportunity for all is more important than ever. Our hope is that by opening up the tools we use to pursue equal access and avoid unintended consequences, we can all join together to build a better world for everyone.