The lack of diversity in many corporations is not a new issue. And there seems to be little progress made despite the fact that it’s widely acknowledged to be a problem. In fact, when Silicon Valley tech companies first started releasing results in 2014, the diversity stats were pretty depressing and they have not improved dramatically. However, a relatively new start-up may have found the key to turning that around. Jopwell.com is a career advancement platform helping Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals connect with meaningful job opportunities. As BCT Partners also has a mission to help our clients increase their diversity, we want to highlight other companies that are playing key roles in working towards solutions.
First a little background on Jopwell. The platform was started in 2015 by Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams. They met while working at Goldman Sachs and were both disappointed by the lack of diversity that they found within the industry. As Williams stated, “It's professionally unsettling, and not a confidence boost for someone of color to look around and not see anyone else who looks like them." So, Braswell and Williams took a leap of faith and quit their jobs to do something about the problem. They both readily acknowledge that they had advantages that others did not, as both graduated from prestigious universities and were interns in the finance industry prior to becoming full-time employees. “My path to finance was really being identified from an early age through a diversity internship program," Braswell says. "We realized that while we were really fortunate for that, there was never really a scalable tech solution for it." Their first step was to apply for funding through Y-Combinator which funds start-ups with a small amount of capital and a lot of hands-on professional development. With a relatively small investment, they were able to start building their platform. Employers pay a small monthly fee in order to use the service and all job seekers can access it for free provided they have a four-year college degree.
To date, they have partnered with more than 60 employers including Facebook, Buzzfeed and Morgan Stanley. With their seed funding round, they have also been able to secure a pretty impressive list of investors such as Magic Johnson, Andreesen Horowitz and Kapor Capital. For Johnson’s part, he believes that new technology, like Jopwell, can turn goals into real change," Benjamin Jealous, partner with Kapor Ventures and former head of the NAACP, said "Before Jopwell, many of us had tried other avenues, like public policy and advocacy within companies. What has not been tried enough is to create highly scalable technologies that help remedy the problem of exclusion from the job marketplace."
While Braswell and Williams admit that their platform won’t change the world overnight, they also are proud of their progress. The number of job seekers using their technology is increasing by 40 percent each month and other large organizations such as professional sports teams in the NBA have recently signed on to use Jopwell. And while companies may know that diversity is important for many reasons, it’s also a major factor in financial success as well. Ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians, according to a recent report from McKinsey. Now, that is an encouraging stat!