Diversity-Recruitment Startup Jopwell Adds NBA To Its Enviable List Of Clients

Written by Dana Sanchez

Jopwell, a New York City-based job recruitment website that connects employers with job candidates in underserved demographics, announced Thursday that it has partnered with the National Basketball Association, according to a report by Zoë Henry in Inc.

Jopwell already counts among its customers Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Airbnb, and Netflix. Since the tech startup was launched in January, 2015, Jopwell has signed up more than 50 companies using its technology to find candidates. These include Microsoft, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Spotify, Fidelity, KPMG and The New York Times.

Now Hopwell can add to its customer base NBA teams including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Celtics, and the L.A. Clippers, Henry reported.

Former Goldman Sachs analysts Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams co-founded Jopwell as an online platform to provide the kind of support and minority recruitment programs they experienced in college to a wider group of diverse candidates of all ages, Human Resource Executive Online reported.

Their idea was to build a job-hunting site dedicated to matching people from minority backgrounds  — Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American — with jobs and internships, particularly in tech, according to Business Insider.

As of October, Jopwell has raised $4.25 million in angel investment and seed money from 57 investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Kapor Capital, Omidyar Network and others, the founders said. Backers include the San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana and Magic Johnson.

The NBA is the industry leader in terms of racial hiring practices, according to the most recent available data, Inc. reported. Though that does not mean there isn’t room for improvement. Around 35 percent of all professional NBA employees are minorities, down 0.1 percent from 2015, according to a 2016 study from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. The NBA, it’s worth pointing out, was the first professional sports league to have two owners of color leading its teams: Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Hornets and Vivek Ranadive of the Sacramento Kings.

“Jopwell, like the NBA, believes that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and that engaging with a diverse group of candidates–at various levels in their careers–is essential to our success and the growth of our game globally,” said Oris Stuart, chief diversity and inclusion officer with the NBA.

To be accepted on the Jopwell platform, job candidates must be attending (or have graduated from) a four-year college. Critics could argue this is a business model that’s not exactly inclusive.

Corporate partners such as the NBA could be missing out on talent from lower-income neighborhoods, or those who can’t afford to attend a traditional four-year institution, Inc. reported. (The N.B.A. has said it works with multiple partners in its diversity recruiting efforts, some of which focus on lower-income communities.)

Jopwell is also in an increasingly crowded field, Human Resource Executive Online reported.

In recent years, the number of diversity recruiting websites has expanded, and so have their approaches. These include blind audition sites such as Mercer Match, Gapjumpers and Blendoor, which are helping to eliminate upfront bias to source qualified candidates of every background:

The issue is how to get the best out of these sites to meet a company’s diversity goals, said Lila Kelly, a Minnesota-based diversity recruitment trainer:

“It is easier to source diverse applicants now than it was a few years ago,” she told Human Resource Executive Online. However, some industries such as technology, healthcare and the government continue to have difficulty finding diverse candidates. She and other experts advise using diversity websites in tandem with direct college and professional recruiting programs.

Jopwell candidates can connect with employers as well as one another to share stories, join groups and build networks. Jopwell provides career advice and perspectives about navigating the workplace on its blog, The Well.

For example, Eric Higgs shared his experiences on The Well in a blog post entitled,
“From Engineer To Marketing Exec: What I Learned From Pulling Off A Career 180 – Twice.”Publicly reporting diversity statistics has become the norm for US tech companies over the past few years,

Publicly reporting diversity statistics has become the norm for U.S. tech companies over the past few years, according to Gartner, a U.S. research and advisory firm providing IT-related insight:

Many of these Silicon Valley diversity reports have been met with disappointment. Tech giants failed to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves, sometimes making no progress or even moving backward despite investing significant resources in their diversity and inclusion strategies. Reporting on these missed goals may be transparent, but these companies now fear they are sending the wrong message.

Even so, Jopwell says it has given companies a much-needed dose of diversity, Jopwell says. The company refused to tell Inc. how many graduates are using the platform, but claims to have helped make 30,000-plus “connections” between companies and job seekers to date.

“In general, tech companies have this mantra that they can build their way out of it,” Braswell explains. “So long as tech companies are trying to solve it themselves, they’re missing the point. If you keep relying on a homogeneous work force to diversify itself, you’re not going to succeed.”

Looking at the diversity issues that have come up at Silicon Valley companies, it seem as though retention (through the creation of an inclusive environment) is the true missing ingredient, Emilie Siegler wrote in a Gartner report:

Committing millions of dollars to recruiting new diverse talent doesn’t mean much if you don’t change your existing policies and practices to make those new hires want to stay and grow with your organization.

 

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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez is the editor of Moguldom.com and AFKInsider.com. She has worked in digital and print news media as a business writer and news editor. She has a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. Prior to working in news, Dana worked in advertising.

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