Despite an increasing employer focus on diversity and inclusion, it is clear that more work needs to be done in ending discrimination in the workplace.
Therefore, it is not surprising that HR tech companies that aim to eliminate bias, particularly in recruitment, are attracting investment.
Hot on the heels of interviewIA raising $2m in a seed round and Pandologic acquiring conversational artificial intelligence (AI) company Wade & Wendy, Jumpstart, a diversity recruitment platform, has rebranded as Canvas and closed $20m investment round.
The latest round was led by Lachy Groom and Sequoia Capital – Four Rivers Capital also participated in the round. This brings Canvas’ total funding since it launched in 2017 to $32.5m, according to reporting by Tech Crunch.
Canvas co-founder and CEO Ben Herman said: “Hiring diverse teams is not only a matter of corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion are a competitive advantage and strategic priority for every company in today’s landscape.
“Companies that don’t have diverse talent pipelines will be discredited in the marketplace, overlooked by top talent, and be left behind by their competitors.”
Breaking the diversity recruitment mold
Unlike other competing diversity recruitment platforms, Canvas does not rely on AI or external data sources, which it claims “could be inaccurate or illegal”. Instead, its fully virtual recruitment technology is based on self-reported data from candidates who are using the platform to look for jobs.
Herman told Tech Crunch: “We don’t believe that AI is the future. It’s not about getting someone’s gender or ethnicity based off of their name, or to inform the hiring decision without candidates knowing.
“It’s all about how to empower talent to self-identify. We want to enable the talent to own their data, and truly be able to represent themselves in unique ways.”
Companies using the platform – which includes Google, Bloomberg, Audible, Airbnb and Lyft – can then filter candidates based on more than 75 self-reported candidate data points, as reported by Tech Crunch.
While candidates get the benefit of applying for jobs with one diversity-focused Canvas company and then being exposed to other opportunities at other employers using the Canvas platform.
What does the future hold for Canvas?
Canvas claims to have had a very successful 2020. Not only did its revenue triple and its staff numbers double over the year, it also claims to have helped employers reduce time to hire by 30%.
But with the rebrand from Jumpstart to Canvas and $20m investment, Herman has big ambitions for the future.
First of all, the aim is to grow the team from 70 to 100 people by the end of 2021. In addition, Canvas currently serves tech companies, but it wants to expand its reach to other industries where diversity and inclusion is also an issue.
Although Canvas originally launched to support graduates get their first job, it has gradually expanded to all employees. In this new phase, Canvas wants to continue to focus even more on ensuring those at the later stages of their careers also have a fair shot at jobs.
Canvas co-founder Adam Gefkovicz explained in a blogpost: “With our mission to make the world more equitable and our platform as a tool to make that happen, we decided to accelerate our product roadmap to serve not just early career recruiting teams, but talent teams at all levels.
This change in direction is central to the rebrand and name change.
“Where Jumpstart began as a platform to help people jumpstart their career, Canvas could expand that journey and become a canvas upon which they paint the story of their life & career to get discovered for who they are and how they want to uniquely represent themselves,” added Gefkovicz.