Startups Focus On The Future Of Work (Kanarys)

Kanarys, A Platform For Analyzing Organizations’ Policies And Procedures, To Evaluate Real State Of The Diversity And Inclusion Environment.

By Anne Field

Three years ago, Mandy Price looked at the tepid state of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and decided she could do something about it. Price, an attorney for 12 years, had worked on various diversity committees and understood that, while well-intentioned, most DEI efforts at companies couldn’t make a dent in the systemic causes of racial inequity.

So she co-founded Kanarys, Which Has A Platform For Analyzing Organizations’ Policies And Procedures, Combining That With Employee Feedback And Other Research, To Evaluate The Real State Of The Diversity And Inclusion Environment. One client that thought it had a problem retaining Black women learned the issue was in its retail locations, not elsewhere in the organization. With that, they developed a plan tailored to the challenges faced by those employees. “We help companies identify blind spots,” says Price.

Kanarys was also one of 15 ventures that participated in Unreasonable FUTURE’s most recent cohort. The program, launched in 2019, focuses on tech startups working on ways to boost meaningful career paths and employment for workers in the new economy of the digital era. “It’s around aligning leading edge technologies with what we believe should be the future of inclusive work and social equity,” says Shankari Mylvaganam, Unreasonable Group’s director of strategy and global partnerships. Like many other accelerator programs that were scheduled for just before or during the pandemic, Unreasonable FUTURE also adapted quickly to the times.

No More South Africa

Thanks to the far-reaching nature of the program’s mission, it involves a collaboration with Fossil Foundation, Pearson and Accenture. That’s more than the one or two partners Unreasonable usually works with. “If we’re going to solve for this massive unemployment gap, we can’t do it by ourselves,” says Mylvaganam. “We needed to collaborate.”

The second cohort was set to take place in South Africa, starting early last year. But Covid intervened, making it necessary to introduce some big logistical and scheduling changes. Thus, while Unreasonable programs usually last for two weeks or so, involving intense, in -person workshops, organizers decided to meet virtually over a longer period of time, from September to December 2020.

Core programming didn’t really change. It took place virtually on Tuesdays, with sessions on such topics as fundraising and measuring impact. It also included one-on-one mentorship sessions and “Groves”, five-to-seven person, two-hour monthly meetings during which founders shared the best and worst personal and professional things currently happening to them. Plus there were “Braintrusts”, sessions during which a group of 8-to-10 mentors and experts worked with an entrepreneur on a problem submitted by that individual.

Like many accelerators forced to go virtual during the pandemic, Unreasonable reaped some benefits from operating remotely. For example, organizers were able to enlist a wider array of mentors and experts from Unreasonable’s network of 1,000 specialists than they might otherwise have tapped, plus more investors. Like many accelerators, as well as other enterprises in general, Unreasonable may rely on a hybrid approach even when the pandemic has subsided, according to Mylvaganam.

The 15 startups ranged from a mobile micro-learning platform for informal communities to a company using blockchain technology to elevate millions of people out of extreme poverty. As for Kanarys, Price says one thing she was particularly interested in was learning how to measure impact, plus chances to collaborate.  “I’m talking to two of the companies now about ways we can work together,” she says.

This news was originally published at Forbes.

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