When legendary American power tool company Stanley Black & Decker was looking for ways to improve the pipeline of various candidates the company was considering for possible roles, it reached out to an Israel-based startup called Talenya for help.
The company wasn’t just looking for startups to get support on new hiring initiatives. Last year’s social payroll, in the wake of nationwide protests against systemic racism through the murder of George Floyd, prompted companies across the country to reconsider their own role in perpetuating inequality.
As part of this assessment, companies found that the recruitment tools they had used to simplify the process of recruiting, nurturing and promoting talent did not capture the broadest and most skilled applicants.
“If we are to claim this is a pipeline issue, the first thing we must do is state that we have discontinued what is available in the pipeline,” Bo Young Lee, Uber’s chief diversity officer, told Biomedarticles. “It’s less of a pipeline problem and more of a challenge to the recruiting process.”
This is where tools like Talenya, Textio, TalVista, WayUp, Handshake, The Mom Project, Flockjay, Kanarys, JumpStart and SeekOut came into play. In total, these companies have raised more than $ 200 million in funding over the past few years to increase diversity and to involve and help solve the diversity problem of technology.
“Part of our diversity, inclusion and inclusion strategy focuses on a diverse pipeline to ensure that incoming talent better reflects the markets and communities we serve. To accelerate our progress, in 2020 we started using Talenya’s AI software to expand the pool of candidates for women and people of color, ”said Suzan Morno-Wade, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Xerox, another company the Talenyas software employs statement.
According to a recent study by Talenya, women and people of color seem to use fewer keywords and to be less exuberant when describing themselves in profiles or in applications.
This is why startups like Talenya and Textio are trying to figure out how to improve the candidate selection process by using broader language in both the job description text (Textio) and qualified candidate selection filters (Talenya).
“Searching for keywords is very discriminatory for everyone,” said Gal Almog, CEO and co-founder of Talenya. “Minorities and women tend to include 20% to 30% fewer skills in their profile. This does not only apply to women and minorities. We added an algorithm that can predict and add missing skills. “
In some ways, this functionality is similar to the tools used by companies like SeekOut, the recruiting startup that just received a whopping $ 65 million from investors like Tiger Global, Madrona Group, and Mayfield.
“The focus on diversity attitudes and our unique approach to finding talent and offering blind recruitment functions have overwhelmed adoption,” said Managing Director Anoop Gupta in an interview earlier this year. Talenya makes the same toolkit available to its own customers.
In the meantime, companies like WayUp are trying to give employers some insight into how the funnel narrows after the verification process. The company’s new tool provides an assessment of how different pools of applicants are slowly broken down into a group of applicants that is far less diverse during the testing process.
WayUp co-founder and chief executive Liz Wessel said that after a series of technical assessments and programming tests, the pool of applicants often narrows significantly.
“Similar to the SATs, many technical ratings correlate strongly with socio-economic status,” Wessel told Biomedarticles.
While some startups focus on the hiring process itself, other companies are taking approaches to diversify specific jobs or recruiting from specific talent pools to increase diversity in the tech industry.
That’s the mission that companies like Flockjay and The Mom Project have set themselves.
“Most people don’t even realize that a tech sales job is even an option,” said Shaan Hathiramani, founder and chief executive officer of Flockjay, a company that offers a technical sales curriculum to the masses, earlier this year.
Hathiramani said his startup could be a ramp for the tech industry for legions of workers who have the skills to work in tech but don’t have the network to see themselves in business. Just like coding boot camps has allowed thousands to get jobs as a tech programmer, Flockjay is helping talented people who had never considered a job in tech get into the industry.
That way, non-programmers can leverage soft skills they’ve developed in other industries, including retail and food services, to step into the higher-paying world of tech companies. In this way, these tech companies can find a more diverse pool of employees who can bring different skills and perspectives to the table.
A few hundred students have gone through the program so far, Hathiramani said, and the goal is to train 1,000 people by 2021. The average income for a student before going through the Flockjay training program is usually around $ 30,000 to $ 35,000, Hathiramani said.
After graduation, these students can expect to make between $ 75,000 and $ 85,000, he said.
It’s obvious that technology needs to get “better” at inclusion, and so does The Mom Project – a Chicago startup focused on connecting women, including parents, to jobs from organizations that are specifically open to people employers who meet this profile – is a company that is addressing one aspect of the problem that has become acute in the pandemic.
“Sixty percent of the job losses in the pandemic were women, and the stats for women of skin color were even worse,” said Allison Robinson, executive director of Mom Project. “It’s like a canary in a coal mine.”
While The Mom Project today lacks the tools to find candidates who meet more diverse profiles on this front, Robinson told Biomedarticles that they are thinking about it and how to approach this in a way that works.
Ultimately, these are considerations that matter to companies of all sizes, according to Sarah Smith, chief executive of Bain Capital Ventures.
“No matter what, it’s important from day one [that] They keep an eye on how to build an inclusive culture where, in an ideal world, even the first person you put on the team can step in and feel pretty welcome. And … you really want people to do their best and bring in their perspectives and ideas. ” Smith told the audience at the Biomedarticles Early Stage Conference. “I think it’s pretty common for a team within the network, including the founders, to grow to four or five members. [but] I think if you like number six, if you don’t already have any kind of gender or racial diversity, it’s going to be really tough. “