Solutions Driven

Greenhouse’s Seán Delea on The Importance of Data-Led Diverse Hiring

talent intelligence podcast sean delea

If you’ve ever been in the market for an ATS, you’ll have heard of Greenhouse. A powerhouse in the hiring work tech space, they’re used by huge names like Hubspot, Wayfair, and Squarespace to solve many of their talent challenges.

And Greenhouse is also a great place to work. They’ve been named as Inc Magazine’s Best Workplace for 5 years in a row, Fortune Best Workplaces in Technology (#1), and in Mogul’s Top 100 Workplaces for Diverse Representation (2022).

So it was really exciting to welcome Seán Delea, Team Manager, Talent Acquisition, EMEA at Greenhouse, on to The Talent Intelligence podcast.

A huge diversity champion, Seán sat down with Solutions Driven’s Head of Growth, Nicki Paterson, and Chief Diversity Officer, Salma El Wardany to discuss all things talent acquisition.

Listen as they dig into:  

  • The importance of company buy-in on diversity  
  • How a data-led approach can help with achieving that  
  • Tailoring diversity strategies to specific regions area and countries
  • Leveraging the whole team so everyone is a recruiter  
  • And much (much) more!  

Listen to the podcast:

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Watch the Podcast:

Want to find out how to hire more diversely and improve your workplace?


Nicki: Hi everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of the TalentIntelligence Podcast. My name is Nicki Paterson, Chief Growth Officer at Solutions Driven, and today I’m joined by two amazing guests and looking forward to getting into this episode. So firstly I’d like to welcome, our Chief Diversity Officer here at Solutions Driven Salma El Wardany

Salma:  Hello. Lovely to be here. 

Nicki: And brilliant to have you on the show today. Sean Delay Talent Acquisition Team Manager AMEA at Greenhouse. Sean, thank you very much for your time this afternoon.  So as you guys know. for the format for this, I like to keep it pretty, pretty loose.

But we’re really keen to really explore the successes that Greenhouse have had over the last couple of years, up to almost 900 employees, give or take it’s tripled in size over the last couple of years, and Sean has played a big part of that across EMEA . Sean could definitely give us some, some hints and tips on how to grow a team and motivate our team.

And we’re also gonna look at some of the areas that Greenhouse has really been doing a good job on, on the diversity front. So Salma’s going to help me interrogate Sean this afternoon.  

Salma: Interrogate. Interesting use of word there   

Nicki: So Sean, we have a lot of clients ourselves that use Greenhouse.

So I am very familiar with the Greenhouse software. For the people that maybe don’t know Greenhouse, can you tell us a lot about, about the, about green? 

Seán: Sure. So Greenhouse is a technology company that builds hiring software. So Greenhouse’s mission is to help companies be great at hiring. And in order to do that, we have a number of products.

Our flagship product being Greenhouse recruiting, which is an ATS. But on top of that we have Greenhouse onboarding. We’ve recently launched sourcing automation as well as some other products, all of which go towards building a structured, fair, equitable hiring process and elevating the, the hiring processes of the, the companies that we are working with.

Nicki:  I don’t think I could have put it as well as that myself, so I’m glad I asked you that, Sean. But there’s a lot there. And why I’m so happy to get Sean on this, on this podcast today is,  not just because we’ve got clients that use Greenhouse, but I think there’s a real synergy between the methodologies, the values, and the mission that Greenhouse has.

We are all always thinking about what’s next? How can we help our clients have a, a process that’s consistent, that’s streamlined, that’s continuously evolving and improving, so looking forward to getting right into this. 

So Greenhouse, it’s went from, I believe, 350 employees to 900, 8 50, 900 it says on LinkedIn today. Why do you believe the company has had the traction that it’s had? It can’t just simply be, more sales, more sales. You guys are clearly doing something right, and you’ve been there for a number of years. Yourself. Now, what is it? What is it that’s so appealing to Greenhouse?

Seán: I think Greenhouse as a company attracts so many candidates. Because of our commitment to diversity and inclusion and because of our commitment to making companies great at hiring. I think that’s something everyone can identify with. Everyone at some point in their life has been part of a hiring process, whether they’re an interviewer or whether they’re a candidate.

So I think the mission really resonates with people. And then I think Greenhouse as a company attracts people because we really walk the walk. And we really lean, lean into a strategy of inclusive and diversity sourcing because we really see the, see the value of that and the value it can add to the business.

Salma: I’m really fascinated with what you just said there, Sean, about your commitment to diversity and greenhouse is incredible, and like Nikki said, your growth story is, is brilliant. And you, I’d love to know a little bit more about your commitment to diversity and what that looks like in practice when it goes into how your how your product actually works, because it’s one of the things, and I’m sure you guys know this, what do we talk to our clients about? It’s about diversity and how they can get into those diverse pools. Tthere’s a real appetite from organizations to hire diverse, but often the logistics of it and how they actually go about that, that’s the difficult bit that I think Greenhouse has, has managed to help clients out with.

Seán: Right. And it’s also, as you say, Salma,  it’s worth touching on. What do we even mean when we say  inclusive or diversity sourcing? Yeah. And what is the benefit of it?  I think intrinsically a lot of TA professionals, a lot of HR professionals know this, but don’t necessarily know how to convey it, convey it to their stakeholders or to the business.

Seán: So when we kind of talk about Inclusive or diversity sourcing, we are referring to intentionally and deliberately searching for and engaging candidates from underrepresented backgrounds for given hiring needs. And it’s worth mentioning the return on investment of diversity and inclusion in your hiring process.


You know, it’s not just the right thing to do from a human perspective. There are a ton of studies out there that have shown that building a diverse inclusive work environment adds tremendous business value. It leads to a more vibrant company culture. A more positive team environment, which ultimately all leads to better employee retention.

Right. And then better revenue generation. Right? It’s more profitable to have a diverse workforce, everybody shows that. Exactly. Which is really important for the wider business to understand that. And so I think why Greenhouse has been really successful there is we take a really data driven approach.

It’s important that before you’re kind of diving into your diversity sourcing strategy, that you’re, you’re setting diversity and inclusion goals so that you have something to work towards before you start working. Diving into execution straight away. Part of setting those goals is kind of measuring the current state of affairs.

Seán: Looking at what your current sourcing strategy is, what the diversity of your organization is right now, and where the areas of opportunity are. And there’s, there’s a number of features of the greenhouse products that can help in that way. We have a number. Different reports that are part of the product that will help you measure the diversity of your current pipeline, your previous pipelines, and kind of help build the overall picture of right, what’s going well and what could do with more help.

Salma: Right? So that’s exactly it. Sorry Nick, I’m just so obsessed with data and I liked what you said there and you said about the data and I believe in this, right? , you just said something that’s really critical. It’s not just about doing it for the good of people or because it’s the right thing to do.

And if we wanna make any impactful change in organizations when it comes to diverse workforces, it has to go back to the data. Everything has to be data led. The decisions have to come from analyzing company data, and then you need all the data. Right? 

Which is why I love that point that you mentioned there about it being data driven and what’s so great about Greenhouse, but what I would love to know is from your product, What you said there that you can draw reports on what pipeline looks like currently.

So I’m guessing that what that then does is build up this overall pattern of behavior. Right, Because once organizations know patterns of behaviors, they can then change them in really impactful ways. 

Seán: Exactly.  I mean, you can kind of, you can get as granular as you want there as well. LYou can look at a specific department, you can look at a specific geographic location.

I would manage our EA based team and lead our hiring strategy for EA. So that’s typically the sector I would look at. And you can look at historical data within that reporting function. So for example, for me, I find it really useful to look on a month by month or quarter by quarter basis to see the impact that my team’s inclusive or diversity sourcing strategies are having on the overall candidate pipeline.

Where we’re having successes and maybe wha examining that further to see what are the potential blockers. 

Nicki: So I’ll go back a little bit to, to something you said at the beginning of this is. It’s okay being data driven. It’s okay setting goals, but it’s who’s involved right from the start. You know, that really creates the magic down the line. If this was Sean driving, Sean wanting to create this diverse strategy, there’s only so far that can go. How do you create that?

Or how does the business create that leadership right throughout the business. Because it, it’s, it’s something you see time and time again. It’s ingrained within Greenhouse which then becomes ingrained within the clients that work with you. If we really hone in on this diversity piece right now, how does that team get together and decide, here’s our current goals and, and what’s that  team made up of? 

Seán: Yeah. So I mean, I think there’s probably not a one fits all solution for every company out there. Every company is gonna be at a different maturity level when it comes to this conversation. But I think you’re right in that this isn’t something that I could just implement by myself in Greenhouse.

You need buy in from the business. I think for us, the main stakeholders is collaboration amongst the people team, first of all. So that’s not just talent acquisition, that’s. Diversity and inclusion team. That is our executive leadership as well. And I suppose specifically in my own example, when I think about when we were building the diversity strategy for the EA leadership for the EA region, sorry that involved bringing in the leadership from the EMIR region as well.

So we had a local perspective of what diversity looks like in Ireland versus in the US.

Nicki: And even go back even further Salma, I think when Salma’s early months at Solutions Driven. I think you can think you’re diverse and you can think you’re inclusive. And sometimes when you really then start to, I mean we did a lot of things in the early days around assessment surveys, really to try and gather that data of where are we right now? And then you look at it and you go holy shit, we’ve got a long way to go here. You know? And I think Salma3 published something a couple of months ago that said, 12 months on, here’s where you are. And it was a real sense of pride knowing that we’d taken steps forward. But again, it was, you have to analyze where you are to start with, to then say, Okay, we are really gonna focus in those areas.

Salma, would you maybe wanna elaborate on that? On how we did that?

Salma: Yeah we did 

And I think that you hit the nail on the head when you say. Everyone thinks they’re pretty diverse, and I think that’s because everyone’s got a will to be pretty diverse and everyone wants to be, and everyone wants to be really open about adapting to the changes and generally.

I know that if you go on Twitter or if you go on social media, it will make you feel like there’s a lot of really wild people out there with very crazy opinions. But actually that’s not true. Most people, I. Really want to create a more diverse workforce and more diverse companies. And they believe that, cause they’ve got the best will in the world that that’s gonna happen.

But actually, and I’m sure Sean, you found this when you are talking to clients, actually the reality once people look at the data is very, very different. So we did that at Solutions Driven and we really honed in on all the data that we had and what that data told us about our hiring patterns and the type of people that we were, we were bringing in the door.

And as such, what kind of culture was created? Cause whoever you bring in the door creates a specific type of culture. And so we really looked at that. And then we decided, okay, we’re gonna do X, Y, and Z. But I imagine as well for Greenhouse clients that, because you mentioned this before, Sean, you can see what you’ve done in the past and I think that is a real mark of motivation for companies.

Mm-hmm. . Cause I think being able to look historically over the last year, for example, and say, Well, this is where we started out and our data now tells us that this is where we are. And this was our pattern before, and this was our hiring trend before, but now it’s here. Encourages people. Cause we all need that encouragement.

And doing diverse work and creating diverse workforces is hard work and it’s challenging. Mm-hmm. . And it takes a lot and it’s confronting to a lot of people. So being able to look back and say, Look at the data and look at it now I imagine it, I know it was so encouraging for everyone here at Solutions Driven and everyone suddenly went, Oh my God, okay, I get it.

Look how far we have actually come. And I imagine that is such a key thing for Greenhouse clients. 

Seán: Of course.I think you, you’ve completely hit the nail on the head there. I think you can’t improve what you don’t measure. So if you don’t have an understanding of where you’re coming from, then, then there’s no way to see if you’re making improvements or not.

So, we would completely abide by that as well. You need to be regularly checking in with yourself,  like where are we now? Where are areas of improvement? No one has diversity and inclusion solved it. It’s always an iterative process. There’s always more to learn and more to consider.

There’s always more to think about when it comes to the different experiences of your underrepresented groups and that manifests in so many different ways within the organization. I think for me, when I think of Greenhouse, the first thing that sticks in my mind is, measureable hiring results.

Nicki; If I think about all of the different HR and TA leaders and executive leaders around there, you know, the one reason they’re annoyed with the recruiter or pissed off with the recruitment partner is because they’re not achieving results. They’re maybe not representing the brand appropriately.

They’re not communicating well, and almost they just don’t know what’s next. That’s right there in your mission there. You know, deliver measurable hiring results to build, grow and hire for what’s next. And I think absolutely there’s a data driven approach to doing that. But like you said, there’s also the retention factor as well, right?

I mean, you guys have done two things and two things really well that I can see is you’ve had results because you’ve hired so many people. Your client list grows daily and you guys are thinking ahead and, and I think as part of our HR TA leadership events,  we are always trying to pick the brains of companies that are growing and scaling to steal as many ideas as possible, of course.

And share them with our, with our group. But I think a big part of that is, you know, you could say, Okay, we want to improve our diversity, but as we are working on right now, to retain that talent, it needs to be an inclusive environment. . It needs to be a safe environment. It needs to be an environment where people feel they can do their best, their best work.

 So I’d love to turn this into, I mean, you’ve grown your team, you know, you’ve been part of the team and now lead the team and I’ve done that. You know, and that’s, it’s hard to do, right? It’s hard to, to, to go from one seat to, to the next. So talk me through that journey you’ve been on these last couple of years and what some of the highlights are for you.

Seán: Yeah, and diversity and inclusion is, is, is so important across Greenhouse in general, bu I really see it as vital for, for my team. My team has such a tangible impact on helping Greenhouse become a more diverse organization. So, if my team is bought into that, then there’s a real problem there.

So I think for me as a manager, It needs to start from as soon as folks enter the pipeline, when I’m opening up a role to join my team. Making sure that they’re aware during the interview process how vital this work is to Greenhouse and to our success, how core is to our mission.

Seán: And then getting a sense of how that mission aligns with their own values and maybe how that has shown up in their work previously. And then also part of that is,  it’s so important that diversity inclusion is so visible as part of Greenhouse’s brand. When candidates go researching Greenhouse, they need to be able to see that we’re really committed to this.

That’s visible at all stages of the candidate and the employee life cycle. And then I think when I think about once my team actually joined Greenhouse, what’s really important is that they understand the why behind the ask. That we’re not arbitrarily asking them to source with diversity in mind that they understand the work they’re doing and how that impacts Greenhouse overall. In the same way that if someone’s working in sales, they understand the work they’re doing is adding to the revenue of the business. Someone working in engineering understands that they’re building a well functioning product.

Seán: my team needs to understand the work they’re doing, how that overall leads to Greenhouse’s success. And then that keeps them motivated. And another part is making sure that they feel safe to turn up as their full selves in work and that they feel celebrated for the diversity that they bring to the team.

I think if they don’t have that level of psychological safety to, to show up and be their full selves in work, then you know they’re gonna be really, they’re gonna struggle to be bought into the Greenhouse mission and you. How are they then going to convey the importance of this to their stakeholders and to the candidates that they’re meeting with?

They’re oftentimes the first person a candidate is speaking with. So if the candidates aren’t getting that feeling from them, then we’re in real trouble.

Nicki: What I admire, Sean, is, obviously the way you come across, but some of the words you’ve used there, are because people don’t know where to start with this.

I think that’s what we see again and again and again. I would love to be more diverse, more inclusive, but where do, where do I start? And if I was joining the interview process with Greenhouse, I could tell within minutes that it’s vital to you. Iit’s your core, it’s a mission.

You’re committed to it.  Because you’ve already done that to me in the last 10 minutes here, you know? And that’s key. And it’s being able to have that as consistent across the organization and not because the CEO told you so. Because you’re there, because you want to be part of that is absolutely, absolutely huge for me.

Seán:Yeah. A I think part of that is understanding the why behind. We’ve been quite intentional about what our diversity sourcing strategy is. It’s not a one size fits all. that’s particularly important as Greenhouse has become more mature and we have gone international and we now have an idea present.

When I think about my own experience joining Greenhouse and being the first TA hire for the  region, it quickly became apparent to me that, utilizing the same. Diversity or inclusive sourcing strategy being used by my peers in the US wouldn’t make much sense. And wouldn’t get us the results that we needed.

You know, as I’m sure you’re aware, the EU and especially Ireland have a very different demographic and very different history than the US and even the uk. So we, we kind of had to take a step back and really think about what does underrepresented look like in Ireland? And what, what is diversity in the market here?

So then we realized that we found that an area of opportunity on the EA team was increasing LGBTQ plus representation. Another adjustment we made was where my peers in the US focus a lot of their sourcing strategies on increasing ethnic and racial representation on the team, which is something we also do.

But again, given our demographics in Ireland, we also decided to lean into nationality diversity as that’s really kind of what diversity looks like in Ireland. Being a big tech hub in Europe. We have people from all over the European Union, Brazil, Africa, India, et cetera. So we were able to really think about things like, okay, this, it makes sense as diversity for this specific location and team and build our strategy based on that.

Which  takes a little bit of trial and error and iteration. But by being intentional, you can then make a tangible impact on the diversity of the team, which again, further helps buy in from the business when, when it makes sense. 

Nicki: Just on that point  I wanted to ask you what have been Greenhouse’s challenges when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

Cause you said at the beginning, everyone’s on a journey with it, right? And we’re all at very different stages, but what have been some of your biggest challenges? 

Seán: Yeah, I mean that has definitely been one. When I joined we were scratching our heads a little bit like, how are we gonna make a meaningful impact on diversity in EMEA?

We did a census in Ireland in 2022. We’re still waiting for the results. So we’re, we’re working off the most recent results, which are 2016. And those results were  Ireland is 90% plus white. So, diversity kind of means something differently here. So it takes a ton of research and stuff to, to, to figure out what does look like in the market.

 besides just the EA example, what Greenhouse has been working towards, as we’ve become a more mature organization, is slightly more nuanced goals. You know, where, for example, we might have had quite broad goals in the past of  X percent candidates or X percent of our population not identifying as one particular group.

Now we’re kind of really starting to look at, particularly in the US, historically underrepresented groups. And again, looking at those at different levels of the organization as well. So management level, leadership level, and stuff like that as well. Where we’re working towards is really adding some nuance to our, to our diversity goals.

Nicki: I think as you get more data, you can become more specific.  And, and, and you guys have been driving this for, for many years now. It’s very interesting as well. We do a lot of hiring for companies in AMEA that expand into the US or us that expanded into me or Asia Pacific. And  it’s difficult not knowing the nuances of that city or the culture,  it’s very eye opening to, to a lot of companies as well. So I almost can imagine being in San Francisco right now thinking about hiring a software engineer in Ireland. There’s so much to take into consideration, you know?

Seán: I guess one of the biggest things for me is, is this, and, and we’ve spoken about it with a lot of our clients recently, how to embed that everyone’s recruiter mindset. How to have everyone aligned and on the, on the same page, how do you bring the hiring managers? This is clearly passionate to you and the, and the people team, but how do you bring the hiring managers with you?

Yeah, this is a game changer when it comes to sourcing and particularly with diversity sourcing is leveraging your hiring managers and your hiring teams. So again, step one there is explaining the why behind making sure that that culture of understanding the importance of diversity inclusion is, is throughout the company.

I suppose specifically when thinking about getting hire managers involved in the process, if you think about the most qualified candidates out there that all of these companies are trying to attract, how do you stand out? It’s so much more impactful for a candidate to receive outreach from a potential hiring manager.

Rather than a member of the talent acquisition team, candidates want to hear from people that they’ll potentially be working with. So we internally call that talent making and we see it as an org-wide effort. We’ve actually built it into our career ladders and the most successful leaders.

Are the ones who build this into their long term strategy and see it as an essential component of their role, and not just work that the TA team does. It’s not just something they say they need a role filled and they hand it to us. The most successful hire managers are the ones who incorporate it into their operating rhythm and encourage their teams to do the same, and that the best of those are the ones who keep diversity top of mind at all.

Nicki: Salma, I know you’re buzzing to hear that, that approach, because I guess when I have added to her team, you immediately go for, you know, what do I need? What do I need right now? Who’s available? You jump to all those kinds of things where there’s bias scattered everywhere. And even if you think about people just throwing the advert up, see who applies and that gives you some data.

But what I really love about what you say is, you’re making it really clear to anyone joining the business how important it is. They see how important talent making is. I mean, you’re giving us some tips there about what you guys are doing, so I appreciate that. But it has to be for these leaders to continue to evolve what you guys are doing.

And obviously you’re getting the results off the back of that, or you wouldn’t be looking to evolve that even further. Again, it goes back to data again. We as a hiring or as the talent acquisition team can go to our stakeholders and show them the data of the difference in a search when a hiring manager is highly engaged versus when they’re not.

And the effects that can even have on the diversity of a candidate pipeline. All of that stuff. So again, it’s, it shouldn’t just be on the TA team to be  just trying to nudge their hiring teams constantly. Use data as much as you can to tell the story for you. So Sean, you’ve given us loads here.

To wrap up, is there any one tip if you give a company that’s thinking about that watch this and say, Okay, I wanna be a bit more like Sean, I wanna be about more like Greenhouse. Give them one tip to come from you. 

Seán: Oh God. One tip. I think one thing to think about when you’re building your diversity sourcing strategy, once you’ve kind of set your goals and really honed in on where the areas of opportunity are within your business to add representation, I think you kind of need to think about what, what are the strategies you’re going to use?

And there’s  both short term and long term strategies short term or your quick wins that will. More of an immediate impact. What I’m thinking about there is say going on to LinkedIn. You have an open role, you’re searching for profiles and hopefully using some kind of inclusive or diversity BL and strings or maybe you’re throwing the role up on our diversity job board.

And then longer term, Or things you invest in, like  community building, partnering with organizations that you can build professional relationships with. Really leaning into building a a brand that embraces diversity and inclusion. So my recommendation is that there, there’s so many strategies you can implement, but in order to ultimately be success, In building a diverse organization, you need to have some kind of combination of your short term, quick wins, and then a longer term strategy.

Nicki: thank you so much for the words of wisdom today. I’ve known about Greenhouse for many years. I’ve heard so many good things about the business. I can see how passionate you are as an individual, as a leader as a functional owner and you can really see the quick ones.

That you guys have made, but also the, the commitment to that long term strategy as well. I feel more comfortable now having Selma in my corner here at Solutions Driven, helping to, to guide me through. But like you said, there is no one size fits all.  It takes time, it takes data, it takes committed effort.

It takes someone guiding you through right, on every instance. And Greenhouse does that for your clients. We do that for our clients. I do that for you. Do you know what I mean? You do that for us I think everyone needs it. And that’s the beauty of Greenhouse and what you guys do. 

Seán: I would say for any Greenhouse customers that are listening, like.

Our Greenhouse Customer success team, our account manager team, they’re also well versed in this as well, and can strategically advise you on like how you can incorporate diversity and inclusion into your hiring processes even more so any listeners today, if you’re looking for an ATS that packs more punch, get in touch with me.

I’ll introduce you to Sean. Sean, I’ll introduce you to the right people, little bit of plugin. Awesome company. Sean, thank you so much for your time today. Selma. Thank you for joining us. Thank you both. What a conversation. This was great. Thank you both.

You may also like

Join our exclusive hiring enablement community

Elevate your HR strategy with our Hiring Enablement community. Designed exclusively for HR Directors like you, we offer unparalleled access to: Exclusive Podcasts, Events and early access to our Latest Whitepapers

Join our exclusive hiring enablement community ​

We’ll also keep you in the loop of new Hiring Enablement podcasts, blogs and eBooks as soon as they’re available.