Thursday, June 13, 2024

Nailing Workforce Diversity Is Tricky – Even for a Diversity Recruitment Startup.

December 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

( There’s something a little ironic about the process of hiring new team members when you run a diversity recruitment startup.

When my cofounder Ryan and I quit our finance jobs to start Jopwell, our main concerns probably sounded nauseatingly similar to those of many early-stage entrepreneurs – everything from launching a useful product to getting the right investors to back our vision.

The prospect of building a diverse team, however, wasn’t nearly as daunting.

After all, we are two black cofounders creating a tech-enabled pipeline – a repository of thousands of students and professionals from the workforce’s most underrepresented ethnic minority groups. If we could succeed at only one thing, it would be sourcing talent from our own communities.

One tremendously eventful year later, I’m happy to report that we’ve transformed our vision into a venture-backed company with 10 employees, thousands of users, and a new Manhattan office in which we can continue to advance our mission. We’re learning and growing every day. Last week, though, as Ryan and I debated how many Ikea desk chairs we’d realistically need to get us through 2016, I glanced over to the conference table everyone was crowded around and came to a realization: We have some very real work to do when it comes to diversifying as we grow .

So, in the same way Jopwell is helping other companies solve theirBlackStartUp-Company-Porter-Braswell-2015 diversity challenges, I want to continue being open and proactive about addressing our own. Here are a few steps we’re taking:

We’re challenging each member of the team to share creative new methods we can use to recruit beyond our existing networks

It’s no secret that people tend to recruit from their own networks (which can be a great thing). Businesses across the board openly incentivize employees to recruit like-minded people they know by offering referral bonuses. In our case, the incredibly talented people in our networks who we hired as early team members were predominantly Black and Latino. Ryan and I are proud to lead a team that’s inclusive of people from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Yet we also understand that in order to fully capture the proven value of workforce diversity, this means that we also need to be thinking about other racial and ethnic backgrounds, along with gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, military background, etc. As we grow our team, we will continue working to bring a mix of all different perspectives on board.

We’re being open-minded when it comes to leveraging other tech-enabled recruitment platforms – especially ones that are great at reaching talented people outside of Jopwell’s target audience

There are many reasons why I’d love to rely solely on the Jopwell platform to source new teammates. But then I’d be failing to do exactly what Jopwell enables other companies to do – to introduce a diversity of perspective and experience that ultimately makes a business stronger and more well-rounded. This is what leads to a positive impact on a company’s overall performance and a culture of openness, respect, and innovation.

We’re remembering our mission

Our hiring experience to date is a good reminder of why we started Jopwell. It demonstrates that building a truly “diverse” workforce is as hard as it is important. That’s something I think every founder should remember: Diversity takes proactive effort, thoughtfulness, and commitment. And as more and more people look to join the conversation about workforce diversity solutions, there is incredible opportunity.

Now more than ever, we have a lot of really exciting work to do on the diversity front – on and off our platform.

Columnist; Porter Braswell

Official website;

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