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Capitalizing the “P” in WordPress

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Capitalizing the "P" in WordPress
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What is your first thought when you see WordPress spelled without the capital P in the middle? You may be surprised how much opinions vary. In fact some people may care a little too much about that one little letter. Nyasha Green and Rob Howard have noticed a problem with this and want to explore what this one letter says about the WordPress community.

Visit the original article here: https://masterwp.com/wordpress-with-a-lowercase-p-is-ok-with-me/ 

This podcast was sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do. Now let it make you money teaching what you do. Create a course with LearnDash. Visit LearnDash.com.

Press the Issue is a production of MasterWP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons. It was hosted and edited by Monet Davenport and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com 

 

Episode Transcript:

Monét Davenport:
Welcome to Press the Issue, a podcast for Master WP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals.

Get show notes, transcripts and more information about the show at masterwp.com/presstheissue.

What is your first thought when you see WordPress spelled without the capital P in the middle? You may be surprised how much opinions vary. In fact, some people may care a little too much about that one little letter. Nyasha Green and Rob Howard have noticed a problem with this and want to explore what this one letter says about the WordPress community.

Nyasha Green:
Hey Rob, how are you doing today?

Rob Howard:
Hey, Nyasha. I’m great. How about you?

Nyasha Green:
Doing well. Doing well. So today I wanted to talk to you about an article you wrote. Your article was about, well, the title was WordPress With a Lowercase P Is Okay With Me. And you got a little bit of pushback on this article. So I just want to start by asking you what inspired you to write this?

Rob Howard:
Yeah. So I was reading about a company that had published basically their recommendations for developers who are applying for WordPress jobs. This is something I think a lot about, because I hire a lot of WordPress developers and I’ve developed a somewhat idiosyncratic or different system for doing it that I like to think works pretty well. But I was reading this because I was interested to see what other people are doing. And there were a few things that struck me in the article as being very different from how we do it. But the biggest thing that jumped out at me was that the author, who is a person who’s hiring lots of WordPress developers, said, “if you don’t write WordPress with an uppercase P, that is ‘Word’ is capitalized and then ‘Press’ is capitalized, then that person doesn’t have a clue. It’s something you could be shunned for. There’s not much you could say in your defense.”

Rob Howard:
So obviously the word choice around shunning, there’s not much you could say in your defense, was a little bit off putting to me. But the bigger picture was, is this really something that it even makes sense to be looking for in a job interview or on a resume? And I wrote the article basically explaining why I take pretty much the exact opposite approach. I see the capital P in WordPress as, first of all, confusing from an English language standpoint, but also just so frivolous and meaningless that it essentially amounts to being like a secret handshake. If you know this thing is capitalized, then it’s almost like, well, you’re in the community. And that’s even what the original author said is like, this is an indication that you are involved in the community already.

Rob Howard:
So there were people in the comments who said, “well, what if I want to hire a WordPress insider?” Okay, that’s your prerogative. But when you’re thinking about job applications, the stated goal should be to make your company as open as possible to everyone out there. And this, in many ways does the opposite. It’s almost like saying, you have to already be in this sort of secret society to even be considered for this job. And if you make a mistake or typo, then we’re going to throw your resume away, which just really strikes me as kind of the opposite of how I approach hiring and how I think hiring should be.

Nyasha Green:
Okay. Great. And I definitely agree. It definitely was brought up some flags for me as well, especially someone who was interviewing into the community. And it’s just, people don’t sometimes, I guess they don’t see how harmful this is. They’re like, well, it’s my role. It’s something I like. It’s something I’m passionate about. And me looking at that is, if you’re that passionate about it, why don’t you teach people? What is this, you know or you don’t? No one treated you like that. If they did, I doubt you would be in tech. But how does that play into how we do our job applications in the process at our company?

Rob Howard:
Great question. So what we do is, I actually have put a lot of time and effort over the years into removing barriers. I think one of the mistakes that other employers make, in my opinion at least, is they see their goal with the job application process as to they want to figure out ways to eliminate and narrow down the pool as quickly as possible. And they see this as a more efficient hiring process. You have to jump over all these hurdles. I should be eliminating 80% of applicants with the following hurdles that I’ve created. And then that sort of does make it more efficient from the employer’s standpoint, but what it does from the employee’s standpoint or the potential employee, is it makes people miserable and makes people disengage from a process that is basically annoying and cumbersome.

Rob Howard:
And we spoke with somebody a few weeks ago, who I remember, she was telling us that she was applying for essentially an office administrator job at a Silicon Valley company. And she ended up having 15 interviews and then not getting the job. And it’s like, these are the structures and hurdles that are set up to theoretically make the process easier for the hiring manager or the employer. But what they also do is they inappropriately eliminate a huge number of people who have extremely high potential to be great future employees. So I’ve tried to flip that script when we do our hiring and say, I actually want to remove the superficial barriers and seek out people who have extremely high potential for future success. Those people are often not going to the people who have the shiniest resumes and know how to capitalize the random fifth letter in the word.

Rob Howard:
But you get the opportunity then to build a team that has people who really have the potential to be rock stars and they’re just not rock stars yet, perhaps, because they haven’t been given that opportunity to shine or been given the opportunity to really realize their potential. So in terms of the actual things that we do differently, there are some very obvious ones. We do not require a typical resume. If you want to send us your LinkedIn or your portfolio and a cover letter, that’s fine. We want you to basically be flexible to present yourself as well as you can, but not necessarily say, if you don’t deliver a one page resume, or if you have a resume gap or all these little, annoying things that hiring managers tend to look at and eliminate people on, we’re not eliminating people on that basis, because I don’t think that having the best resume is indicative of your future performance at the company.

Rob Howard:
And I would guess that you could probably collect data to support that. The most polished resume is nice. It’s nice to have. But the reason resumes exist is almost because they are a artificial hurdle that is put up by hiring managers. So you’re welcome to send us your resume, but I’m not going to needle, why did you have this six month gap? What is this? Why weren’t you working during this time? Oh, there’s a typo on line 17. These are things that in a lot of companies, they will say, yeah, we throw away resumes with typos. And they’ll actually say that as if it’s something to be proud of. And what I say is, you are actually eliminating potentially great employees by doing that, and you’re making it harder for your company to hire good people by focusing on things that are essentially frivolous and unrelated to the job.

Rob Howard:
And I think the capital P is another great example of that. It’s effectively a typo. So to say you’re going to eliminate people as a result of a typo here or there is ridiculous. In fact, a lot of people mentioned that their iPhones often will auto correct to a lowercase P, and it’s like, there’s all sorts of little things like that, where it’s like, you don’t even know that this person actually made that typo consciously. Or if somebody has auto correct to make it a capital P, are they really better and smarter and had more potential, or is it just literally an automation? So there’s all sorts of stuff like that, where focusing on the minutia, especially early on in the process, I think it psychologically relieves the hiring manager of some of the more challenging decisions. And that feels good for the hiring manager, but is really bad for the long term results of your recruiting process, in my view.

Nyasha Green:
I agree. Yeah. Just building a little bit or going a little bit more into that. So what do you think happens when people do favor those insiders? They want those people that already are supposed to know everything, basically doing the opposite of what we do at our company in a way. What do you think happens with that?

Rob Howard:
Yeah. So I think there’s a few different pieces of the puzzle there. So what we see in a lot of the conversation around Silicon Valley hiring is everybody wants to hire the person who they feel like they don’t have to train. So companies see training as a cost. They see training as almost a waste of time that they want to avoid. And that’s why you see so much job mobility within Silicon Valley, for example, because Facebook wants to just steal employees from Netflix, because they don’t feel like they’re going to have to train them because they’re very similar companies. And that happens amongst companies, and it also happens when people are hiring in from sort of outside the inner Silicon Valley circle. They want to hire somebody in theory who already knows everything. That is, again, seems like the simplest path.

Rob Howard:
Of course there are some negative results. One of the positive results is that you don’t have to train that person as much. One of the negative results is that your company is now populated by a bunch of people who think they kind of know everything already. And there can actually be conflicts between those people that are hard to resolve because of that, because there’s no really standard way that people are learning how to interact with clients, how to build websites, how to do all these things, because you’re hiring people who are coming in. Not that you shouldn’t hire somebody who is at a senior level, but you don’t want to only hire people who already know everything, quote unquote. Obviously that’s not true of anybody, but that’s kind of the perception.

Rob Howard:
So there’s this idea that, we can only hire ninjas, which is kind of an annoying buzzword. But that’s kind of the mentality here. I think the next negative is that you then inherit as a company, all of the pipeline problems that tech has had over the last few decades, that universities have had over the last few decades. People who are coming in with engineering and tech degrees, or who have 10 years of tech experience are invariably going to be mostly white men in the United States and Europe at least, because they are the people who are essentially the incumbent tech ninjas, if that makes sense. The incumbent experienced people. So if you’re only hiring from that pipeline of already experienced people, then what’s happening is you may have the most pro inclusion, pro diversity platform as a company, but the result is that you can only get people from the pipeline that you choose.

Rob Howard:
So you end up with a much less diverse company because you are choosing to inherit other people’s problems, the problems of these pipelines. So a lot of employers will say as sort of a, I’ll call it an excuse, you could probably frame it slightly differently if you wanted to in a more positive light, but a lot of people will say, well, it’s not really our fault because these are the people who are coming in with degrees from these particular universities that we like to hire from. And it’s like, okay, but you could expand your hiring pipeline. It’s kind of your choice to limit it to these certain traditional tech pathways, and those tech pathways have obvious diversity problems or have obvious problems with gender diversity, or even this idea of diversity of thought, which can sometimes be a little bit of a crutch when we’re talking about diversity, but I think it’s still, it is valuable as long as it’s combined with actual racial and gender diversity.

Rob Howard:
So when you think about that, you don’t want to end up looking like a company where everybody kind of looks and thinks the same and grew up in basically the same suburb. I think that there’s a lot of big negatives that come out of that, but that is essentially the natural result of a hiring process where you’re limiting your pathways in, you are then creating what are effectively arbitrary hurdles. In addition to the typos, there’s like, oh, you have to learn how to do an algorithm interview. You have to do an algorithm test during your interviews. You have to do all this stuff that really you’ll never do in your job. And it’s kind of forcing you to take the SATs. The SATs sort of indicate how smart you are, but they also sort of indicate how much you practice for the SATs.

Rob Howard:
You don’t want to throw that away totally, but also you need to see it in the context of the full person. And I think these hiring shortcuts that hiring managers take prevent us from seeing the full person, they eliminate people incorrectly, in my opinion. But they also save time for hiring. So the flip side is you have to have a much more personalized hiring process that is more accommodating and more accessible to more people, and that will result in you being able to find people who are super high potential, but maybe are going unnoticed by your competitors. And that’s kind of the approach that we take here. It’s good for the company, it’s good for employees. And it allows people to get into the system and then learn as opposed to simply hiring people who have already learned everything elsewhere.

Nyasha Green:
I agree with you. And one thing I thought about when I read your article, which I love, was that I want these people to also know that they need to do some self-reflection. Or I think your article will bring that about, because one key thing I notice is, okay, you’re declaring yourself the hiring manager or you’re the owner, and you have these set up rules people must follow, and it’s all just based on your experience and your way into tech. And like you said, that does bar a lot of people. But I just, I think some people just don’t know how much that does. And they don’t realize that if they were on the receiving end of that, they probably wouldn’t get hired either.

Nyasha Green:
Like me, for example, if you may be the hiring manager of the company and I got to set the rules of who would go on to talk to you, and one of my rules was, okay, finish this lyric for me, I’m a big BTS fan, finish this lyric for me, smooth like butter. And they don’t know the rest because they’re like, what? And I’m like, well, you’re not cultured enough, I think to fit at this company. I don’t think I want to let you in. It’s like, they would think that was silly. But they get to go around and say, okay, if you don’t know all this jargon, you can’t come to the company, despite the fact that you might be an excellent coder. You might be excellent with customers and clients. You might be just someone who can train people, and just take in all this knowledge and just make the company so much better. But we’re going to ignore all of that, that will help the job and the company, because you’re not like me.

Nyasha Green:
And again, what you were saying that just leads to all these pipeline and diversity problems, and it is. And I think people have good intentions. They’re like, we want to be diverse. The excuse we always get is, we reach out to diverse people, but we don’t get a lot of people, a lot of feedback. We don’t get contacted back. And it’s like, do you understand what these people have to do to even show up on your radar? So I think your article also made a lot of people think about what they’re doing and how much is just internalized bias.

Rob Howard:
Yeah, I hope so. And I think everyone that I’ve ever spoken to about this who’s in a hiring position comes at it from the standpoint of, I want to build a more diverse company, but either it’s not really working, or I don’t know how, or I don’t really know why it’s not working.

Speaker 1:
Thank you for listening up to this point. Press the Issue by Master WP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do, now let it make you money teaching what you do. To create a course with LearnDash, visit learndash.com. Now, back to the podcast.

Rob Howard:
The most common situation is, I don’t really know why this is not working. I’m putting out the job application and I’m getting 95% white men, which is not an exaggerated number for a lot of these job postings. Other than people who are sending us random hate mail at Master WP, I’m not hearing from people who are like, I don’t want to do this. They’re saying, I want to do it and I’m not really sure how to do it effectively. Or doing it effectively is, they sort of have ideas, but they’re worried about costs. They’re worried about various other things or kind of just looking bad optically for the people who are cutting the checks or writing the paychecks.

Rob Howard:
So there’s a lot of, as you said, good intentions. I think people get it from an intellectual standpoint as a hiring manager, what you should do. In practice what we see is there are a lot of companies that actually hire chief diversity officers and similar roles and stuff like that. And then those people who are in those roles are not empowered to actually make hiring decisions or help with hiring decisions. So you have sort of the optics person, and then you have the hiring manager, who’s making all the same mistakes over and over again, and is almost separate from the diversity policy at the company. I would also add that we talk about this as a diversity issue, but it also benefits everyone, including white men to have a more streamlined and less minutia focused hiring process.

Rob Howard:
There are lots of white men out there, including people who we’ve hired, who don’t come from a traditional pipeline, who don’t have a college degree, who maybe haven’t written a resume in 15 years because they’ve been freelancing for so long. And we’ve had great experiences hiring people who fit that profile. The exact same thing helps candidates who are from groups that are underrepresented in tech, but it’s not exclusively helpful to them or for that purpose. It is about opening doors to everyone in ways that are just very different from what tech traditionally does. And I think that’s, for people who might be out there, and who are in a hiring manager position and who are kind of struggling to sell some of these changes to the higher ups, that can actually be an even more persuasive way of saying it.

Rob Howard:
You might say, well, we have a candidate who is a military veteran. He’s in his 50s. He’s been freelancing for a decade and he’s not really that person coming from that traditional pipeline. Even though he’s not technically in an underrepresented group, he’s still going to benefit from a better system or a more inclusive system. So there’s all sorts of stuff like that, where this is really about opening the doors to more people, period. It’s not purely about a gender diversity or racial diversity approach. It actually just helps everybody. So that’s, I think a nice way to frame it. But when a particular group is already disproportionately affected by the negative stuff, then the improvements are going to help them disproportionately too. And you could go down that rabbit hole kind of forever, but the idea is basically to making it easier to hire people with good potential at your company who might not have perfect resumes is going to benefit the employer and everybody in the system, and just set up a culture that is more welcoming and more relaxed.

Rob Howard:
And those things really do kind of spiral into more productivity. Rigidity, and it has to be my way, it has to be kind of the traditional Silicon Valley university pipeline way. Those things actually eventually stifle creativity, I think. But I want to touch on one other thought from your last question before I kind of go down a separate tangent or rabbit hole. And that is that people are saying, well, I’m trying to hire in a better way, but it’s not working. We’re putting out the applications, but we’re not getting applications from a diverse group of candidates, however I want to define that. And I think what people don’t realize as company owners or hiring managers, or perhaps they do realize it, but they just don’t really want to think about it too much because it’s a hard problem, is that your potential employees are interviewing you too. The article that I am kind of riffing off of with the capital P stuff is written as, I’m going to interview you, here’s how to succeed in my interview.

Rob Howard:
But I think what they’re missing is that your potential employee is interviewing you and researching your company before they even submit that application. And you’re actually losing people, because they never bother to send in the application because they’ve eliminated you from their list of potential employers, because they’re seeing these ridiculous hurdles, they’re looking at your about us page and seeing that it’s nine white men and one white woman, or whatever that dynamic is at the typical company. And they’re saying, well, am I really going to enjoy my time here? Am I really going to fit in here? Obviously that’s to some degree subjective. And you could probably argue that your company’s really awesome for everybody, despite what may be less than ideal optics.

Rob Howard:
But as a hiring manager, as a CEO or owner, you’re about page is way more important than your job listing or where you publish that job listing, because people are going to show up at your website, they’re going to look you up on Glassdoor and they’re going to assess you privately before you even know they exist, before they even raise their hand to try to work with you. And what we’ve seen is we’ve been very actively working on all this stuff for probably six or seven years, if not a little bit more. And what we see now is that there’s actually a network effect. When you present as a company that obviously is welcoming and inclusive and you can sort of show the results of that work or that different process over many years, then the whole issue of, I put up a job description and I didn’t get any diverse candidates, goes away, because you do get those candidates, they are not eliminating you from contention.

Rob Howard:
And in many ways, that actually makes the company much more competitive on the recruiting front, because a lot of companies don’t even realize how many great high potential candidates never apply to them because they appear to be basically stodgy and not diverse. So if it were me, I’d be worried that this article about how you need to capitalize the P or I’m not going to hire you, that’s great. If you want to eliminate people for that, again, you’re in charge of that decision. But also recognize that a lot of people are reading this stuff and they’re like, well, I’m not even going to talk to this guy or talk to this company because that’s not the kind of place that I want to work. Nobody wants to have that experience day in and day out.

Rob Howard:
And when it really comes down to it, as a company, everything that you do is a reflection of your culture, your values as a company, and people are actually using those as data points or decision making pieces when they’re deciding whether or not to even apply for that job. And you’re probably losing good people if you’re not presenting a welcoming face to the world in all your interactions.

Nyasha Green:
Awesome. I totally agree. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today, Rob. I really enjoyed our chat. And I’m just really excited for our future chats, and the new things we’re going to talk about and just how we’re going to implement these ideas going forward.

Rob Howard:
Same here. Great talking to you and looking forward to next time.

Monét Davenport:
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press the Issue is a production of Master WP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons, hosted and mixed by Monet Davenport, and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com.