Need to remove racial bias in hiring for tech jobs? There’s an app for that
Sherrell Dorsey, The Root | 3/14/2016, 12:24 p.m.
The excuse that top tech companies and large firms can’t find stellar, diverse talent will become a thing of the past if Stephanie Lampkin, founder of Blendoor, has anything to say about it. Lampkin announced the app’s official debut at a rooftop party Saturday during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
Blendoor is a mobile job-matching app that helps companies identify talent “based on merit, not molds.” Lampkin developed the app out of the frustration of not being taken seriously in the tech industry despite boasting an engineering degree from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan.
Lampkin, who has been coding since the age of 13, worked hard to develop her skills and expertise in the tech field. When she went to apply for a data-analytics role at Microsoft after working for the tech behemoth for several years, she was turned down with the suggestion that she’d be a better fit for a sales or marketing position.
“We’re moving the word ‘diversity,’ which has become highly diluted, from our vocabulary and exchanging it with the word ‘merit,’” Lampkin told The Root. Lampkin, like most highly qualified candidates, knows she has the qualifications to be successful in the industry but may not necessarily fit the traditional mode, which has led to the kind of disproportionate representation for which top tech companies are now being criticized.
For the last two years, Lampkin has been grinding away to get Blendoor off the ground. She has since developed several strategic partnerships with IBM, Intel and Apple. Blendoor, operating akin to platforms like LinkedIn and Monster, draws companies that pay upward of $400 to advertise available positions for candidates who subscribe to the service for free.
Her pitch to partner companies goes beyond increasing diversity to revolutionizing the way big data can drive innovation in talent recruitment.
“To date, there hasn’t been good measurement or tracking around diversity as it relates to recruiter behavior,” Lampkin explained. “We will be able to challenge the idea that there is a pipeline problem. There are a diverse number of candidates that are qualified, but they aren’t making it past the phone screen. Our app, which is a ‘blind-recruiting platform’ is positioned to help companies make better decisions at the gate.”
So far, Lampkin has won $50,000 from various pitch competitions and another $50,000 from angel investors like Pipeline Angels. She’s also working with Kapor Capital to close a larger round of funding. Her strategy for the remainder of the year is to gain traction with partner companies and work with affinity groups to acquire high-caliber candidates. Recently, Lampkin met with the president of the National Black MBA Association to discuss how Blendoor can add value to the multichapter organization by providing data on conversion and statistics on their members hired to top companies.
“We’re getting inbounds daily from companies within and outside of the tech companies,” Lampkin said. “Blendoor’s goal is to also attract people of color 10 to 15 years out of college, working for investment or consulting firms, that may not be aware of the opportunities at big companies.