By Victor Ochieng
The tech industry’s lack of diversity has long been a black eye in what should be considered one of the bastions of progress in business. However, in true innovative fashions, some startups are using Silicon Valley’s pressure to bring on more women and people of color as an opportunity, according to the Network Journal. While the final result of these diversity-focused services on the issue is yet to be seen, the startups are certainly seeing business as a result.
The exact nature of these services vary, from recruitment tools that help find candidates outside of the traditional white male pool to software that helps companies analyze their metrics and find out where to improve. “Diversity is both a big problem and opportunity,” said Eric Kim, co-founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Goodwater Capital.
One example of the startups on the front line is Teamable, a three-year-old startup that said it has brought in $5 million in its first fundraising round. With permission, the company’s software mines employees’ LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts, hunting for potential hires, and emails candidates who might be a good fit. The reasoning here is that while in-house hires often lead to successful candidates, they do little to create a more diverse workplace if the company is already full of white men. Teamable recently worked with Lyft, and the percentage of Lyft engineers in underrepresented groups has doubled since the company began using their service. Software company Medallia has seen 700 referrals and made 63 hires, 23% of those being women or underrepresented minorities.
“Teamable became a great way to look at how we scale our employee referral program,” said Mike Podobnik, Medallia’s head of talent acquisition, “and quite frankly actually do something about hiring diverse candidates, which is a huge challenge.” Other companies include Jopwell, a hiring platform that services African-American, Latino and Native American job candidates, and Payscale, which analyzes employee compensation data and recently released a tool to target gender wage gaps between a company.
At the same time, though, the diversity question is not one that can be solved with a quick fix, Kim warns. “I don’t think a problem this big can be solved by a single-point solution,” he said. “I think it’s a good complement to other ways of solving the diversity gap, but we can’t rely on it solely.”