For Latinx working in retail, being stuck in a low-paying job without much opportunity for promotion is pretty much the norm.
Martha Hernandez is working to change that. She’s the founder of madeBOS, a mobile platform that helps employees of large retailers manage their career paths, and that helps employers reduce turnover.
Unlike traditional applicant tracking systems and processes, madeBOS drives access to talent capital by understanding the user’s talents and passion and providing options of careers they don’t know of, madeBOS says on its Facebook page.
Hernandez, 35, said she learned at an early age that opportunity comes to those who prepare for it. “But I also know that opportunity can be biased,” she said. “Breaking down generational poverty can be nearly impossible.”
Hernandez has worked as managing director of ICA’s talent management initiative, and as director of talent acquisition at Modesto, California-based Save Mart Supermarkets. Save Mart had 16,000 employees as of 2016.
Her passion for creating opportunities for low-wage populations is inspired from her time working at Mi Puebla Food Center, a large Latino retailer.
“It was the first time I saw people who looked like me making higher earnings––over $100,000 per year,” she said. “Almost everyone in management was Latino.” And the company was growing. Every new store that opened had almost 10,000 applications for 150 openings.
“People wanted to work there,” Hernandez says, “because they saw that the founder and CEO of this company was one of them. Like most applicants, he had started from the bottom as a janitor. He believed in people’s ability to grow and develop into higher-paying careers just like he did.”
It was a chance opportunity that led Hernandez down the path of entrepreneurship to her current venture, madeBOS, and she’s determined not to let those biases stop her from creating opportunities for others.
“When the idea of madeBOS came to me I did not know many people in the tech space,” she said.
Then she met Deldelp Medina, who at the time was heading the now-defunct Avion, a Silicon Valley pre-accelerator for Latinas in tech. “I was late to apply but I somehow managed to convince (Deldelp) to let me in the program. I didn’t have a product or a business plan. All I had was an idea, and the conviction that I could impact the world.”
That was enough for Deldelp. “She believed in me and convinced her team to let me tag along,” Hernandez said. That team at Avion included Jesse Martinez, who is now a madeBOS advisor and evangelist. “(Jesse) connected me to almost every person who has brought value to growing the madeBOS product and brand.”
Opportunities led to connections, which then led to more opportunities. It is a cyclical, progressive process that Hernandez knows first hand can be life-changing. But are these opportunities available to everyone equally?
“Traditional processes do not favor people with non-traditional backgrounds,” Hernandez said. “We need to be bold and start supporting each other with our wallets — those bold enough to walk the talk. I am doing my part and I hope that others who see these challenges from my same perspective will invest in madeBOS.”
The purpose of madeBOS is to empower employees to proactively manage their career development. Users are shown real career opportunities and can create an individualized plan to reach these opportunities. They are also given a professional development roadmap and can interact with mentors and other company influencers.
In other words, they are given opportunities to make connections that will hopefully lead to more opportunities, just like what Hernandez experienced.
And the platform isn’t just for employees. “For the enterprise, madeBOS offers machine learning analytics to build predictive individual development plans,” Hernandez said. “Using our learnings, managers are better prepared to make the right talent investments.”