Artificial intelligence increases diversity in the workplace

Artificial intelligence increases diversity in the workplace

Algorithm automatically finds job opportunities for minority ‘silver medalists’

Thousands of people from underrepresented minorities are finding work, thanks to an automated artificial intelligence system.

The technology developed by Joonko, an Israeli startup, scans the database of job applicants at American Express, Nike, Walmart,, Adidas, Paypal and many other global companies.

It identifies “silver medalists” from minority groups — those who came close to landing a job but didn’t quite make it — and finds them similar vacancies to apply for at other companies.

Since 2021, it has helped 250 candidates find jobs every month in the United States.

Joonko helps people from underrepresented groups find jobs. Courtesy of Jopwell at Pexels

“We basically help businesses find underrepresented minorities through an automated solution,” says Ilit Raz, Founder and CEO of Joonko.

“Most companies spend tons of hours manually searching for underrepresented candidates, if they know how to tap into those pools — and most of them don’t.”

She created the platform in 2016 to connect highly qualified and underrepresented candidates with diversity-minded global companies. They don’t have to lift a finger. Joonko has access, with permission, to Applicant Tracking Systems and automatically searches for opportunities across all companies he works with.

The Tel Aviv-based company is named after Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountaineer who became the first woman to summit Everest, in 1975. Raz says her perseverance shows them that no challenge is too big to overcome.

A photo of Junko Tabei in 1985, the first woman to conquer Mount Everest. Courtesy of Jaan Künnap / Wikimedia Commons

Joonko is connected to companies’ applicant tracking systems, databases that receive thousands of applications per month. When it identifies a shortlisted candidate from an underrepresented group (women, people of color, or veterans) who was unsuccessful, it contacts them and asks them if they would like to join the platform.

If these silver medalists say yes, Joonko scans his pool of subscriber companies to see if there are any suitable vacancies, and automatically sends them personalized job recommendations twice a week.

Joonko’s talent pool is only open to professionals from underrepresented groups referred to the platform by one of its partner companies.

“The nature of the platform generates a situation where the business, which is the demand, actually brings the supply with it,” Raz told NoCamels. “It’s just a supply they don’t need that other companies might want to look at.”

Joonko sends two emails to her silver medalists with personalized job offers. Courtesy of Olia Danilevich at Pexels

“We only focus on underrepresented minorities, which no other platform does. The other thing is the ‘product’ itself, where all the contestants have been silver medalists, which means that they reach the last two stages of the hiring process.

“Because they didn’t win that opportunity, they are invited into our pool, potentially getting an opportunity for another company. So basically everyone in the pool is an underrepresented minority, a highly qualified, pre-selected candidate.

Joonko can access these candidates by connecting to its partner companies’ Applicant Tracking Systems, software that manages the hiring process by reviewing thousands of resumes.

Companies pay subscription fees based on the volume of jobs they have. Thus, small businesses with 10 open positions will pay less than businesses with 2,000.

“We analyze each candidate who does not receive an offer and try to understand their gender, race and veteran status using algorithms we have developed in-house. And once we’ve done that, we’re able to channel them and figure out if they’re relevant to the pool or not,” she says.

Many companies began to increase their transparency and diversity efforts after the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Courtesy of F. Muhammad of Pixabay

“We log into those systems and have access to them so that when you’re rejected, we understand if you’re a silver medalist and have all of your information,” says Raz.

“That way we can analyze your demographics, identify the job you were rejected for so that we can actually move forward and match you with a similar job.”

Besides the importance of spreading tolerance, diversity actually benefits businesses in many ways. Research repeatedly shows that multi-ethnic and gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their peers, and companies with women on the board statistically outperform their peers over a long period of time.

And yet, whites still make up the majority of the American workforce at 77%. Joonko is working to change that statistic by increasing diversity among global companies.

Joonko’s staff. Courtesy of Avishag Shaar-Yashuv / Joonko

“I really wanted to create a solution that was interesting enough from a technological point of view, but that also solved the problem of underrepresented minorities in the workplace,” says Raz.

Over the past two years, Joonko’s sales have increased by 500%.

“I think it all started with the movement that started after the death of George Floyd, in 2020, which started to force companies to be more transparent. And with that transparency, they have to improve.

Joonko says the average company leveraging its platform sees a 25% increase in underrepresented candidates through its recruiting funnel (the series of stages through which a candidate’s consideration for a job progresses) and hires one out of six candidates recruited through the platform.

Within the platform, 97% of applicants identify as underrepresented in the workforce – 68% as female or non-binary, 32% as black, and 21% as Latinx (a person of origin / of Latin American descent) .

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