It is well-established that diverse teams improve business performance. In 2015 McKinsey showed that racially diverse firms outperform non-diverse firms by 35% and in 2018 Rocio Lorenzo and Martin Reeves of Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with above-average diversity had on average 19% points higher revenues from innovation and 9% points higher EBIT margins.
While many companies have developed recruitment strategies for diverse candidates, these initiatives do not always translate into improved access. For example, Jon Nunley, an economist at the University of Wisconsin, found that resumes with African American-sounding names receive 14% fewer call-backs for jobs than white-sounding names. Furthermore, in the U.S. people of color experience higher rates of both unemployment and underemployment compared to their white counterparts; for Black workers, this gap is the largest, almost twice as high as white unemployment and underemployment.
Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams attacked these problems head-on by founding Jopwell, a career advancement platform designed for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. Through its platform for job seekers and companies, Jopwell not only increases job opportunities for people of color, but also helps companies improve their recruitment, marketing, and retention practices for diverse candidates.
In addition to offering a job-match algorithm, Jopwell’s members are part of a community and have access to educational resources, recruiters, and mentorship. Once a user engages with a certain job posting, Jopwell acts as a “personal referral source” for candidates, directing resumes into the right hands at partner companies.
Jopwell partners with hundreds of companies across sectors and scales, and works with these companies to improve access to and visibility among their platform users. For example, Jopwell’s Campus Ambassador program promotes companies and their diversity initiatives at target universities, while Jopwell’s Professional Recruiting Portal provides companies a channel to communicate directly with promising candidates. In addition, Jopwell co-hosts networking events and fireside chats with its partner companies to increase their visibility and the company-member touchpoints.
Impact on Black, Latinx, and Native American Professionals
Jopwell’s approach has proven successful for candidates on the platform, like Wadness Castelly. Wadness is currently a Client Services Manager at Spotify, and notes that during his job search “Jopwell genuinely cared about [his] candidate experience and career aspirations,” which benefited him and his job search. “Jopwell is a great platform,” says Wadness, “because they help position professionals of color, with great skills who lack access, by exposing them to hiring managers as the best and ideal candidate, while supporting them throughout the interview process.”
The platform not only improves hiring outcomes by providing support and guidance along the way, but also increases access by opening doors that candidates previously thought were not open for them. In recent surveys of its members, Jopwell found that 51% of candidates who received offers were “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to have applied to the position without Jopwell.
Jopwell’s impact does not stop at increasing access to job opportunities for its members currently on the platform. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jopwell launched a nationwide College Giveaway Fund and a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Giveaway Fund to provide some financial support to students on their platform.
Impact on Company Diversity Results
Jopwell’s platform has helped hundreds of companies gain access to a highly qualified, diverse applicant pool, but Jopwell’s commitment to improving corporate diversity extends beyond this access. Jopwell understands that lasting change requires long-term strategies to preserve hiring and retention of underrepresented groups and has worked closely with companies to develop these necessary strategies.
One such partnership between the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and Jopwell set out to improve perceptions around careers in the golf industry and the barriers the industry faces in diverse hiring. First, Jopwell turned to its community to better understand the perceived barriers to accessing job opportunities at the PGA. This preliminary survey showed that although the industry itself is perceived as not being diverse by two-thirds of respondents, the majority felt that a career in golf could be enjoyable and rewarding. It also became clear that lack of awareness about available opportunities was a main reason why job seekers from underrepresented groups were not applying for positions with the PGA: 27% of respondents mentioned a lack of awareness as a “main obstacle” as to why they had not applied for jobs and 76% were unaware of career opportunities within the PGA. Furthermore, the likelihood of applying for a position increased from 46% to 64% once it was stated explicitly that the PGA was looking to recruit professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Developing a solution to this problem fell right within Jopwell’s expertise. Together with the PGA, Jopwell created a strategy to “lay the foundation for lasting change around hiring” by improving accessibility, increasing awareness, and creating systems for accountability. Among other steps taken, this plan included the following:
Jopwell’s platform helps address workplace diversity throughout the recruitment process, from creating connections between Black, Latinx, and Native American job seekers and companies, to improving employers’ hiring and retention practices to ensure long-lasting change. While every case is unique, the PGA’s partnership with Jopwell suggests that through commitment, collaboration, and data collection, companies can take meaningful actions towards diverse, representative workplaces.
A special thanks to SJF Venture Fellow Michelle Moglia for her contributions to this case study in 2021.