Laszlo Bock knows a thing or two about hiring key talent. As the head of Google's People Operations (otherwise known as HR), he wrote a book about it. 

Published on April 7, Bock's "Work Rules!" is a primer on Google's best hiring practices: The company steers clear of traditional interview questions, such as "Why do you want to work here?," it recruits outside of brand-name schools, and it focuses on hiring people who are "better" than they are. The book also sheds light on some of Google's missteps, like when it tried to bump employees' annual performance reviews to March instead of December. (Bock received push back in the form of a "centithread," which is an email chain consisting of at least one hundred responses.)

Bock also offered his tips for eliminating the gender pay gap, and committing to equality generally, in a phone call with Inc. on Wednesday. Gender discrimination is a hot button issue, particularly on the heels of Equal Pay Day (April 14) and just weeks after interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao lost her court case to her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, over sex discrimination allegations. 

"The biggest thing we've seen is that most people don't overtly identify as sexist, but there is a plethora of unconscious biases that we have," Bock said. That's problematic when it comes to hiring a diverse a workforce, and it's part of why he cautions managers not to trust their gut.

Here's his advice for creating a more equal workforce right now: 

1. Give women higher raises.

"The fundamental way that salaries are set when you come into a company is kind of broken," Bock explained, referring to the fact that tech companies often determine salaries based on what an employee previously earned, as opposed to what the job is actually worth. That may be bad news for women, who earn roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Google, however, ensures pay equity by offering women higher salary adjustments than men when they first join the company. Bock says that if every company did this--putting employees on equal footing at the start--there would be no pay gap as soon as 10 years from now.

2. Have a conversation about bias.

According to research conducted by Google, unconscious biases can impact everything from hiring to product development to day-to-day interactions with coworkers. 

That's why Google developed its own "unconscious bias" training program in 2013, which Bock says over half of the company now uses. Essentially, the program is a group conversation, with the goal being that employees will become aware of their underlying perceptions and attitudes. (He estimates that the program has a 90 percent success rate: Most employees report being more aware of their biases, as well as feeling a sense of "personal obligation" to do something about them.) 

"The onus for changing things like wage equality shouldn't fall solely on the people who are underrepresented," he said. The majority also needs to take action. 

3. Don't be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.

Bock used to dance in college, and he says believe it or not, dancing can teach you a thing or two about creating equality in the workplace: "People get really afraid about acting in a way that feels unnatural... One of the things you learn from the performing arts is that it's okay to behave in a way that's different from what you naturally do if a role calls for it. That's really helpful for business," he added. 

So for employees, that means moving out of your comfort zone is important when it comes to asking for what you deserve at work, be it a raise, a promotion, or a higher starting salary, Bock says.  

And on the other side, leaning in to discomfort might just help employers to champion--or at least grow more aware of--the unconscious biases that they bring to the table. 

Published on: Apr 16, 2015