As the talent software market continues to grow, new innovative solutions are being introduced to address challenges to the recruitment and talent management pipeline. One company at the forefront of the recruitment software industry is Ideal, a Canadian company co-founded by YPO member Somen Mondal. In addition to offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered talent screening and matching system that helps companies make more accurate, efficient and fair talent decisions, the Ideal team is currently expanding its analytical, data-driven approach to help organizations ensure transparency and accountability for their own diversity initiatives.

Data-driven entrepreneurial venture

Before setting up Ideal, Mondal served as Co-founder and CEO of Field ID, a provider of safety compliance and inspection management software, until it was successfully acquired by Master Lock LLC in December 2012. That same year, Mondal was named winner of the Ontario EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ award in the “Emerging Entrepreneur” category.

“I have always done enterprise software and was very analytical and data-driven,” says Mondal. Upon selling the company, he recognized that he and his business partner had not been very successful hiring salespeople. “We had not been selecting the right people. Through unconscious and or conscious bias, we were choosing people from the same university or who played sports, for example. That’s when, six years ago, we started Ideal to solve that problem, helping companies select people with less bias, with more fairness and accuracy.”

AI empowers efficient recruiting

Mondal admits that while Ideal was the second company he co-founded, the path to growth was no less challenging. “To be honest, it was just as hard. During the first couple of years, we had to experiment to get a good product market fit and even looked at becoming a job board,” he says. Eventually, through continuous improvements, the team evolved the software so that it lives alongside current human resources (HR) systems, with no separate login or platform needed.

“We sit on top of HR software currently in place in most medium- and large-sized companies. These systems are (often) systems of records. But without the recruitment software powered by AI, most of these existing HR systems don’t provide insight or help with the screening process. Think of it like adding a layer of business intelligence software on top of your CRM,” Mondal says.

He adds, “The benefits of our software make the process more efficient. Most importantly, we can reduce hiring bias by removing variables that commonly lead to biased screening and matching, laying out the foundation for unprejudiced hiring practices.”

Citing a 2019 report by McKinsey that revealed companies with diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to exceed average profitability than similar firms with less diverse teams, he adds, “Reducing bias a couple of years ago was not a hot topic, but it has become a strategic priority. We are seeing a growing need for organizations to systematically measure and report on these efforts.”

A multi-dimensional approach to measuring diversity, equity and inclusion

While the term diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace has become common, Mondal says it is important to clarify the concepts and how they relate to equity to arrive at a more multi-dimensional, analytical and data-driven approach to measuring performance of diversity initiatives within the context of talent acquisition and retention.

Diversity, he explains, is the presence of differences within a segment of people, such as race, age and gender identity. “One of the major misconceptions about diversity is that a person can be ‘diverse.’ Diversity is relational and not individual,” he explains.

A related but different concept is equity. “Equity means that everyone in a segment has access to the same opportunities. In a diverse work environment, differences between people are inevitable. Being champions of equity means acknowledging these differences, recognizing barriers and advantages, and considering the different starting points for each member of the segment,” says Mondal. “An equality-based approach would be to make 9-5 hours mandatory for everyone, without any flexibility. An equity-based approach would account for employees’ needs for different schedules and set flexible work hours that better integrate with their lives.”

The third concept, inclusion, reflects the extent to which people with different identities feel welcome, supported, valued and utilized within a segment.

Ideal’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) insights solution enables organizations to measure diversity, equity, and inclusion like never before. Using a DEI score, companies can now easily assess DEI performance with one wholistic metric, Mondal explains. “The overall DEI score consists of the three subscores, diversity, equity and inclusion. It aggregates all variables, such as people segments, demographic attributes, and inclusion sentiment,” says Mondal “The beauty of having data around DEI is that you can now present the data in an easily digestible score to other executives or organizational stakeholders so they can quickly see the current status of their DEI programs and any improvements that can be made.”

Three tips to get started

Mondal offers these three tips to get medium- and large-sized organizations started on improving diversity in their talent acquisition and management processes.

  1. Your organization needs a method to report and analyze diversity, equity and inclusion. In many cases, a compliance system may be in place to show diversity of employee base, but you need to be able to report on these campaigns. Just having a chief diversity officer without the numbers is no longer enough.
  2. Create greater efficiency in recruitment to avoid spending time going through thousands of applications and risking introducing unconscious bias. This is especially true in high-volume roles. Software can do that better.
  3. Continue to monitor diversity throughout the funnel from talent acquisition to talent management. In a way, measuring D&I is a little bit like the Wild West, with campaigns being implemented but no results to measure. Using technology, you can now get better at measuring impact.

 “Diversity, equity and inclusion are not a passing fad. Objective data related to DEI has proven that it is imperative to the long-term success of nearly any organization,” Mondal adds.