The need to diversify the human capital in technology companies has become a more significant issue for companies in recent years, and what was once reserved for large companies in Silicon Valley has become profitable in many tech companies as well. But intentions and desire are separate from actual results, such diversity is still not an easy task for a company that wants to hire the most talented people yet also diversify its workforce. An Israeli startup has developed an algorithm, designed to help these companies improve their employee diversity without compromising on employee capabilities.
Not stopping just at diversity
Joonko's system allows organizations to diversify their personnel "and open their minds" to relevant candidates; ones that they may not have taken seriously due to various preconceived notions (gender, race, religion), but in practice, they may be more suited for the job than a more "classic" candidate. The automatic tool they developed helps recruiters in companies to search for and recruit new employees objectively, from a wide pool of potential and diverse candidates.
In a conversation with Geektime, the company's CEO and founder, llit Raz, explained that to train Joonko’s model, they initially turned to partner companies who transferred information to help – in exchange for using the product. "Joonko’s models use AI-based technologies in order to identify a candidate's demographics, and for that, we used profiles that can be downloaded on the Internet for model training and were not used any further. Moreover, the company compares job descriptions and contracts to find matches. For this purpose, we used the job descriptions that exist on the websites of companies that are recruiting, alongside anonymous contracts that we received from companies that cooperated with us," Raz added.
The need for diversity is definitely important in the workplace, but some critics would say that companies sometimes choose diversity over matching for the job properly. How do you get to a point where you not only promote employees from disadvantaged populations but also make sure that they are the most suitable employees for the position and company? Was it difficult to solve this problem?
"Joonko’s technological solution provides structured access to candidates who have already gone through advanced interview stages in our partner companies, and our solution allows companies to pursue and cultivate human capital diversity while at the same time preserving the professional requirements relevant to the organization. We make this possible through an algorithm developed in-house, that filters and matches candidates who match the job requirements to the professional abilities that each candidate brings and only then can the candidates actively submit their resumes to the company. This is how we maintain quality control.”
We’re in a tricky period full of cutbacks and businesses focusing on the core and what makes money for the company. Aren't issues like diversity seen as more of a luxury– a bonus–easier accomplished in easier times?
"Great question! Progressive companies understand that workforce diversity contributes to the business's bottom line. They understand that diverse and heterogeneous teams are important for business success, and not about correcting historical distortions.
From this understanding, companies know that even during this relative period, which appears to be challenging also in terms of recruitment of employees, it is especially important to cultivate the issue of workplace diversity, starting with the recruitment of unrepresented workers and ending with the creation of an inclusive workplace for all workers.
Jobs that neglect the issue of diversity now, will be at a loss in the future, as the advantage of recruiting a diverse workforce, both in terms of employer branding and attractiveness for the future are clear– especially when a company, even during challenging times, has invested resources in fostering organizational diversity."
Today (Tuesday), Joonko’s announced the completion of a Series B fundraising round amounting to $25 million dollars. The round was led by one of the largest investors in the Israeli ecosystem– Insight Partners– with participation from Target Global, Kapor Capital, and Vertex Ventures. The round was also joined by a series of leading and influential investors in the field of diversity and inclusion (DE&I) in the U.S. Upon the completion of the recruitment, Raz said that "Organizations invest significant thought in diversity and inclusion, which includes the recruitment of employees from underrepresented populations. This is especially a lesson learned from the pandemic, as layoffs were much more common among underrepresented populations; they were the first to take a hit and no company wants to be seen as a company that neglects this issue.”