Diversifying the workplace

GigBlender aims to match talent to talent-seekers while improving diversity.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

With inclusion and diversity becoming a bigger part of successful business models, two local businessmen are teaming up to make hiring and diversity a one-stop shop.

Mark Richardson, CEO, and Mark Clear, cofounder and COO, formed GigBlender as a way to use technology and social enterprise to bridge the employment opportunity gap. “We didn’t see any tools out there to help organizations and companies find diverse talent while there is pressure to do so,” states Richardson.

It all started several years ago. Richardson was a career coach looking for a technology-based solution to help him streamline the candidate-employer matching process and he approached business acquaintance and tech entrepreneur Clear for help.

“I asked him to build a piece of technology that would pour the [candidate] profiles into a program and have the technology do the searching so I could move on to another profile, and so on,” Richardson says.

Clear, cofounder and COO, was intrigued. “Traditional job search sites weren’t very effective, and I liked the idea of having something that would make a better match, like a dating app but for jobs,” says Clear, who is also the cofounder and CEO of IMS, a developer of software for website management.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, Clear suggested they partner on the creation of an app to handle such matches. “I wasn’t thinking as much about the diversity piece at first,” he admits, “but as we discussed the concept it came to the forefront.”

They launched GigBlender in 2014 to make better connections based on best fit. “If someone doesn’t fit with your organization, it doesn’t matter what color they are or background they come from,” Richardson says. The company works with talent pipeline partners who have candidates looking for jobs, such as the YWCA, the Madison Network of Black Professionals, the Urban League of Greater Madison, and the Latino Professionals Association, and opportunity partners (companies) looking to hire.

Candidates fill out an online profile asking about job experience and the corporate culture they’re seeking, whether they like to work remotely or in an office, or how much supervision they prefer. On the other end, employers create profiles describing available jobs, workplace culture, and amenities.

“These things really matter when it comes to work style,” Richardson explains. The program uses bias-free math calculations to produce a list of candidates for a position but leaves the interviewing and hiring to the parties involved.

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Clear and Richardson have been bootstrapping GigBlender since its launch and generating revenue by charging employers an annual subscription fee for access to its software and talent pool.

“We have not taken any angel investing,” Richardson remarks, though they’re not opposed to the idea. “We want to get to market with a commercial launch without taking a dime. We hope that will be the spring of 2017.”

As GigBlender is tweaked and perfected, the diversity element also grows in importance. “Many think about [diversity] as a thing but inclusion is a behavior, so our goal was not to just build an app but build a community around it,” explains Richardson. “The app is the hub of the tool. The spokes that come off it are best practices.”

The company gives 10% of its revenue back to its talent pipeline partners. “These are community-based professional organizations with talent that is already here but not necessarily being tapped,” notes Richardson.

GigBlender will also help connect companies wanting to diversify their workforce with experts in cultural competence or unconscious bias training. “For some reason those connections aren’t being made,” Richardson says. “The best way to diversify a team is to start valuing, targeting, and intentionally diversifying it.”

Clear agrees. “There are companies that get it [diversity and inclusiveness] and are doing the training and embracing it, but they may lack the tools. Most often they say the talent isn’t out there. We know that’s not true.”

The cofounders hope to take GigBlender into larger markets over time, but their current challenge, Clear notes, is “convincing people that this really is a different way of developing your talent pool, not just another job-seeking app.”

GigBlender
gigblender.com | 608.658.5626

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