• Negin Safdari

Dear Artemis,

We're Artemis - an executive search partner based in Waterloo, Ontario. We help high growth tech companies, often startups and scale ups, find leaders across the org chart.

Over our collective 45+ years working in this space, we find the same burning questions come up again and again. We want to help, whether you're a client or not. Consider us your talent advisors, here to share insights on the constantly evolving market in tech. Ask away - nothing is off limits.

Remember in grade school, how your teacher told you to not be afraid to ask the hard questions, because there was probably someone else in class wondering the same thing but too afraid to ask? Ditto here. Ask the hard questions - we bet someone else will be glad you did.

Dear Artemis,

In your video you mentioned something about the recruiting implications of a vaccine mandate. Every day I see more and more companies requiring vaccines for in-office staff, in both the public and private sector.What are the implications of a mandatory vaccination policy?

- CTO, SaaS Scale Up,

Dear CTO, SaaS Scale Up,

On the surface, this seems like a tough question. Maybe because we’re Canadians, and we’re known for being nice and accommodating...and creating hard and fast rules about a vaccine might feel like we’re walking into a minefield.

I won’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t require vaccinations - first, because that’s not what you asked, and second - because that’s up to your leadership team. However, there are recruiting implications to requiring vaccinations, so let’s dive into those.

Requiring vaccinations sends a clear signal to both current and prospective employees: Our company prioritizes the health and safety of employees and their families.

Do you risk deterring a candidate over a vaccine mandate? Yes. Do you also send a clear signal of your priorities being health and safety over business outcomes? Also yes. (Although to be clear, we think a vaccine mandate will improve your business outcomes as well, but that’s for another post)

It’s a hyper competitive market for talent - and a vaccine mandate gives candidates insight into your leadership team’s ability to “walk the talk”. Candidates tell us they want to work for an organization that actually lives their values. (BTW no one trusts your Careers Page that showcases your value statement and smiling employees) Vaccine mandates are an opportunity to actually live up to the words plastered across your website.

You’re also encouraging and supporting more diverse candidates with a vaccine mandate. You create a level playing field for candidates with young kids who can’t get vaccinated or candidates taking care of elderly parents who are still at higher risk, despite being vaccinated. Tech orgs often have a reputation for not being “family friend” or for unfairly catering to staff in their 20s. This is an opportunity for you to change that narrative.

Some candidates might have legitimate reasons for not being vaccinated. We can’t give legal advice, but if you have a vaccine mandate, legislation protects those with legitimate health or religious concerns. In other words, your vaccine mandate is inclusive and defensible.

Do candidates care? YES. As we speak with candidates, this question is beginning to come up. Before, it was “Am I expected to come into the office post-COVID?” Now, it’s becoming: “Are they expecting me to come into the office post-COVID… and if so, what’s their vaccination policy?”

Be prepared for the question, and be prepared for different reactions. Most will understand and be grateful for a vaccine mandate. But, some people will take issue … so be prepared with alternatives or to stand by. Perhaps you require them to WFH permanently, and for company wide-events, wear a mask at all times and do a rapid Covid test prior to entering.

If you’re nervous about a vaccine mandate turning off candidates: Reflect on the kind of employees you want to hire and how they live their own values.

Do your ideal candidates and employees have enough empathy and EQ to understand the endless benefits of a vaccine mandate? Perhaps this is a stress test: A quick way to screen candidates and protect your organization’s culture.

So there you have it, CTO in a SaaS Scale Up - here are the recruiting implications of a vaccine mandate:

  1. You send a clear signal of your organization’s priorities: The health and safety of your employees and their families.

  2. You attract more candidates, thanks to actually living out your organization’s values. You’re walking the talk, and that’s attractive to candidates who have multiple offers.

  3. You level out the playing field for all candidates and employees, especially those with young children or those taking care of the elderly or vulnerable.

  4. Thanks to vaccine mandate legislation, you’re still accommodating to those with legitimate reasons for not being vaccinated.

  5. When candidates inevitably ask about vaccine mandates, you seem (and are!) prepared with an answer - and with alternatives for candidates who don’t comply.

  6. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, your vaccine mandate may detract the candidates who lack the empathy and EQ to be a culture-contributor in your organization.

We hope this helps. If you have any other questions or follow ups, please ask or email us at info@artemiscanada.com

Until next time,

- The Artemis Team