DEI firm that connects job seekers with employers gets $30M

A startup's diversity, equity and inclusion platform raised millions in its latest funding round as employers start turning to third-party systems for help.

Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts has become a priority in many companies, and so have investments in platforms facilitating DEI efforts. One firm, PowerToFly, just received $30 million in funding for its recruiting and retention platform, which connects employers to women and underrepresented groups.

The services offered by this New York-based company include ongoing training programs, career fairs and networking. Employers can also use the platform to reach pre-vetted job seekers with specific skillsets to invite-only sessions. Examples of employer forums include "A Day in the Life of a Backend Engineer at Slack" and a session on the product, engineering and career opportunities at the NBA.

The premise of PowerToFly is to bring "the entire diversity, recruiting and retention ecosystem onto one single platform," said Katharine Zaleski, co-founder and president. The new funding will help it develop a membership portal for HR managers containing DEI content, comparative benchmarking data resources and on-demand courses.

"There's a lot of wasted energy, resources and time in this space because people are not sharing insights," Zaleski said. The company plans to address that problem by, for example, sharing anonymized data on messaging that works for candidates, she said. It also provides training for HR to help retain workers.

Some of the initial business investment in DEI was to bring consultants into organizations to provide training, said Jonathan Roberts, an analyst at Forrester Research. But businesses today want data to discover, for instance, why there is inequity in hiring and promotions and understand "where in your organizations these things fall," he said.

There's a lot of wasted energy, resources and time in this space because people are not sharing insights.
Katharine ZaleskiCo-founder and president, PowerToFly

The business demand for more workforce diversity resources makes this "a high-growth area in terms of investment," Roberts said.

Other recent funding announcements include $25 million in May to Mathison Technologies, which makes an end-to-end DEI hiring and retention platform; and $3.5 million that same month to Included Software Inc., which provides an enterprise DEI system and is based in Redmond, Wash.

McKinsey & Co. credits DEI with improving profitability. More diverse firms have an edge in hiring top talent, the business consultancy argued.

The importance of DEI in performance was underscored by a recent survey by Genpact, an IT services firm. The survey, conducted by an independent third party of 510 senior executives in the U.S. and abroad, asked, "How does your organization use data and insights to make better decisions concerning DEI?" More than half of the executives -- 51% -- indicated they were most interested in measuring "the impact of improved DEI against company performance." The second highest response, at 42%, was "to understand the strength of people's professional networks.

Heather White, chief legal officer and global leader of DEI at Genpact, said in an email that many organizations "rely mainly on employee demographics to measure diversity in their organization -- metrics such as how many people from underrepresented populations are employed at different levels."

White said it is important to track workforce diversity metrics by employee level, such as promotion and attrition rates, for "a deeper and more realistic understanding" of their DEI efforts.

"Analyzing interactions between employees such as meeting invitations can provide insights on who's involved in projects, who's making decisions and which groups are represented in meetings," she said.

"All of this data is available, but it's often disconnected and discontinuous," White said.

Roberts also sees DEI business goals being brought together in corporate appointments. For instance, Adobe last year named Brian Miller as Adobe's chief talent, diversity and inclusion officer, putting him in charge of its global DEI strategy and talent and acquisition program.

Roberts said merging talent and DEI into one position recognizes that the two "cannot be operated in silos.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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