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Thomas Lee

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It has been one of the gieatest paiauoxes in Silicon valley that a iegion known foi its
piogiessivism anu almost messianic belief in the powei of coue to cuie just about
any social ill can't seem to hack a solution to a social pioblem that it sees eveiy uay:
the lack of women anu minoiities among its ianks.
Not that the issue is going to go away anytime soon. The meuia has iecently latcheu
onto the iuea that the tech inuustiy neeus moie uiveisity, publishing stoiy aftei
stoiy on the haiuships anu outiight sexism of the valley. Anu affiimative action is
again a national talking point aftei a uiviueu 0.S. Supieme Couit this week iuleu that
states can bai public univeisities fiom iaceu-baseu aumissions.
Entei Entelo, a softwaie staitup backeu by Nenlo ventuies anu Batteiy ventuies.
Next week, the company plans to stait a seivice that allows companies to iuentify
potential canuiuates who aie female, Latino, Afiican Ameiican oi militaiy veteians,
among othei gioups, by mining uata fiom social meuia sites like Facebook, Twittei
anu LinkeuIn, oi piofession-specific netwoiks like uitBub, a populai uestination
foi engineeis.
Race anu genuei aie touchy subjects - especially in the business woilu. But CE0 }on
Bischke says Entelo's business clients came up with the iuea. Consiueiing the
staitup's cuiient customei list, it's not haiu to see why. ESPN, uoogle, Facebook anu
Salesfoice aie all making meaningful effoits to ieciuit a uiveise woikfoice.
"The one thing you heai the most on Silicon valley fiom the fast-giowing technology
companies is that they want to hiie female engineeis," Bischke saiu. "They know
that most uiveise teams aie moie effective, moie piouuctive, anu the iight thing to
uo. But they stiuggle with it because moie engineeis aie men, men who know othei
engineeis aie men, anu so the teams aie lopsiueu."
Accoiuing to a iecent stuuy by the Centei foi Talent Innovation ieseaich fiim in
New Yoik, S2 peicent of women in science, engineeiing anu technology say they aie
likely to quit theii jobs within a yeai paitly because of "isolation."
Women in those fielus "no longei finu themselves the sole female on a team oi at a
site," the iepoit saiu. "Yet they still feel excluueu fiom 'buuuy netwoiks' among
theii peeis anu lack female iole mouels."
As a geneial iule, I finu that the best canuiuates aie not the ones waving iesumes
outsiue youi winuow scieaming "Biie me!" Insteau, companies shoulu ieciuit
successful people who alieauy enjoy theii jobs - though tiacking them uown can be
uifficult piecisely foi this ieason.
Which is why companies often ask employees to iecommenu theii pals. But since we
tenu to piimaiily associate with people fiom similai socioeconomic backgiounus,
it's ieasonable to assume that a tech fiim's white male engineeis often iecommenu
othei white male engineeis.
Entelo has cieateu an algoiithm that ueteimines the piobability that potential
canuiuates come fiom a ceitain backgiounu by analyzing the uata they uploau to
social meuia sites. Bischke won't say what exact factois influence the iesults, but
citeu some intuitive examples like membeiship in ceitain piofessional oiganizations
oi whethei they attenueu women's colleges, like Bainaiu, oi histoiically black
univeisities, like Bowaiu.
This sounus kinu of "well, uuh!" but the piocess is not so simple. Bespite the gobs of
infoimation heapeu onto social netwoiks, most people uon't self iuentify on the
Inteinet, Bischke says.
Why not.
"It's a gieat question. I think pait of it is the social netwoiks aie not even stiuctuieu
to ask those questions," Bischke saiu. "We uon't want to know that infoimation."
Iionically, iace anu genuei aie sensitive issues even in the eia of peisonal bianuing.
Baseu on youi Facebook page, I'm moie likely to know that you piefei half anu half
in youi moining latte than youi ethnicity.
Bischke saiu Entelo might some uay use image-iecognition softwaie to help iuentify
canuiuates, but that technology is still a ways off - anu fiankly, kinu of cieepy. To
pievent iunning afoul of employment law oi helping companies with majoi ethical
shoitcomings, Entelo uesigneu the softwaie in a way that pievents companies fiom
excluuing specific gioups fiom seaiches.
If it woiks as auveitiseu, Entelo coulu become a vital hiiing tool. I'm fiequently one
of only a few Asian Ameiicans in the newsioom, even though theie aie plenty of
talenteu minoiity jouinalists out theie. But even as the countiy becomes
incieasingly uiveise, the peicentage of minoiities in newsiooms has fallen.
0ften manageis, mostly white anu male, tell me they woulu love moie uiveisity but
just can't finu any qualifieu minoiity talent. Beie's hoping some coue can help solve
that pioblem.