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Online recruitment software helps increase diversity in tech hiring

Technology companies can improve diversity among employees by using Door of Clubs to contact and engage with students or recent college graduates who are women or minorities.

A new platform is allowing technology companies to recruit and hire more diverse talent, addressing a long-standing issue in the industry.

Door of Clubs, based in Boston, launched a "Diverse Talent Identification Platform'' late last month, which includes an online Dashboard for users to search, identify and engage with, for example, members of college and university clubs for women, African-Americans, Hispanics and gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Door of Clubs platform can also reduce travel time and cost for attending campus job fairs and allows companies to target diverse students.

The online recruitment software mainly attempts to fill a vital need for increased diversity in the technology industry, an issue underscored in a report earlier this year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

College recruiting is seen as broken

Pranam Lipinski, co-founder and CEO of Door of Clubs, said college recruiting is broken and outdated.

"There needs to be a different way and a better way to unlock college talent than career fairs and job boards," he said.

The platform is for all students, but about 50% of the clubs are diverse, according to Lipinski.

The Door of Clubs online recruitment software allows companies to identify the types of diverse clubs they are seeking, Lipinski said. The talent acquisition platform populates the company's account with those diverse clubs, enabling them to send opportunities to specific students within them.

A company can simultaneously search for prospects in hundreds of clubs using filters such as location, major, graduation year, male or female, coding or other skills or a specific minority group. The company can connect with candidates and can track and measure the performance of their responses.

Platform attracted lots of interest from graduates

One recent graduate, Jefferson Akpona, said he was contacted by 10 organizations through Door of Clubs, including HomeAway, Zillow and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Akpona, an immigrant from Nigeria, was a member of the Black Engineering Student Society at his alma mater, Northeastern University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering.

Lenovo wants more diversity in hiring

A top recruiter for Lenovo said diversity is important for creating good products.

Jordan Cealey, lead technical recruiter at Lenovo, said he has been using the Door of Clubs platform for only a few weeks, but that it has been a great way to connect with prospects.

"At a global company like Lenovo, we need to do everything we can to increase our diversity initiatives," Cealey said. "A diverse perspective helps create good products. If people think in different ways, we can get comprehensive answers and solutions."

Cealey said he wants to hire top technical talent, such as computer scientists, software engineers and sales talent, from prominent clubs across the country that are focused on engineering, diversity and leadership.

Door of Clubs makes recruiting easier and less stressful, he said, adding that with a couple of clicks, a company can contact key talent, reduce travel and work costs and save time.

Lenovo has not hired anyone with the platform yet, but it is contacting people and building a talent pipeline for interns that could be hired, Cealey said.

As a result of attending a career fair at Northeastern, he was hired as a data engineer at Mimecast in Watertown, Mass. He had already obtained that job when he was contacted by most of the 10 companies through Door of Clubs, but he said it is "definitely worthwhile" for students to sign up for the platform.

"It is a very friendly website and interface," Akpona said. "You can click on companies that interest you."

Kumaran Chanthrakumar, who is taking a year off from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he obtained a position at AcadiaSoft as a software engineer intern through Door of Clubs.

Chanthrakumar, an Asian-American who was a member of the robotics club at the university, said Door of Clubs also sponsored a hackathon that he hosted. He said he would recommend the online recruitment software.

"It was a big help and is very supportive of college clubs and organizations," he said.

More than 50 companies use the platform

Door of Clubs is creating a "win-win" for students and companies, Lipinski said. Students get an inside track on jobs and clubs can raise money, while companies get access to specific skills and motivated students.

A little more than 50 companies use the online recruitment software, including Asana, Bank of America, Disney and MasterCard, Lipinski said.

According to Lipinski, the platform was not aimed at diversity when it launched in the fall of 2015. It started as a general alternative to career services and the campus recruiting model, then launched this month with the new platform, which also includes funding for clubs and more detailed analytics for companies.

Door of Clubs does not charge campus clubs, but provides funding to them by rewarding them for reaching a certain amount of members. If a club hits 25 members, it receives $100.

Lipinski said African-Americans and Hispanics, for example, are underrepresented in the technology industry for many reasons.

"… From what I have personally witnessed, they feel the imposter syndrome, meaning they feel they don't belong because no one looks like them or relates to them," he said. "Diverse tech clubs are critical because they act as peer support networks, so students feel less alone in the challenges they face."

Federal report cites lack of diversity in tech

A federal EEOC report, for example, documented a shortfall of diversity in high tech partly by comparing the overall private industry to the high tech sector. Citing nationwide 2014 data, the report found that high tech employed a larger share of Caucasians, Asian-Americans and men, but a smaller share of African-Americans (14.4% to 7.4%), Hispanics (13.9% to 8%) and women (48% to 36%).

"Ensuring a sufficient supply of workers with the appropriate skills and credentials and addressing the lack of diversity among high tech workers have become central public policy concerns," the report stated.

Most companies are using the platform particularly to find diverse software engineers, who are in high demand, Lipinski said.

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