Bias, even unconscious, can have a negative impact on many social interactions – including supposedly merit-based ones like the hiring process. In the hope to achieve a 100% fact-based match between job offerings and suitable candidates, a new Cambridge startup has developed an algorithm and a platform that remove from job applications any bias trigger.
Based in Central Square, TwelveJobs – which launched for job seekers in Boston in June – is a digital database that connects employers and job applicants. It’s similar to Linkedin, but with a crucial difference: it doesn’t show data about job candidates’ personal info, gender, race, or even previous employers, schools attended and salary history.
“In a lot of organizations, you see a lot more women at the bottom than at the top,” Amy Seibel, CEO and co-founder of TwelveJobs with her husband Nat Seelen, said in an interview. “And it’s not just women, this applies to any type of underrepresented group.”
Instead, each candidate’s application is “de-identified,” as Seibel said. “On the employers’ side, we help companies to both access a more diverse pool of candidates .. [by putting up] a virtual blind screen over the candidates, so they can focus on what really matters,” she said. “On the job seekers’ side, we help people find positions that they’re qualified for and they’re a good fit for.”
“The goal would be that this is where everybody comes when they’re looking for a new job or employee.”
When employers need to fill a position, they’ll receive a set of matches showing, for example, the level of education of the candidates as “master’s degree,” but not the school candidates obtained their degrees from. Or, employers could see the level of experience as “mid-level,” but not the list of previous employers.
Based on how candidates’ qualifications overlap with job requirements, each match will receive a set of scores from 1 to 10. At this point, if the company decides to interview a candidate, TwelveJobs will disclose his or her name, phone number and email address – but before, it will ask the candidate’s permission to do so.
TwelveJobs, which declined to disclose the number of employers and job seekers it is serving in the Boston area, is currently in a private beta focusing on the social impact sector. The company said it should be releasing a public beta in the fall.
“The goal would be that this is where everybody comes when they’re looking for a new job or employee,” Seibel said.