Regional News

UK: Skip Capital aims to invest in an anti-bias jobs startup

By Editor 0 Comments NEWS, Regional News

Skip Capital, investment fund run by Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson, has recently committed to another women-led startup and participated in part of the £1.5 million ($2.7 million) seed funding round for recruitment platform Applied.

Applied removes information from job applications such as name, address, hobbies and education (both years and institution) which may introduce bias when reviewing candidates.

"The name Kate is irrelevant to how I would perform at a tech company," says Applied co-founder and chief executive Kate Glazebrook.  "Yet we know as soon as people are aware of the name Kate certain biases creep in."

The power of this bias is illustrated by research conducted by the Diversity Council of Australia last year which found chief executives and chairs in top Australian businesses are more likely to be named Peter or John than to be female.

Ms Glazebrook grew up in Sydney and studied economics before working for treasury and then moving to the UK five years ago as part of the UK government's Behavioural Insight Team known as the "nudge unit".

The unit uses behavioural economics to influence the way people think and act, and while working there Ms Glazebrook and her co-founder, Richard Marr, came up with the idea for Applied.

"There is a massive gap between what the research says will help us make less biased decisions and what we see in practice in recruitment," she said.

While some businesses provide unconscious bias training for those recruiting Ms Glazebrook said it was of limited value.

"You can't retrain the brain on an unconscious bias so we need to tackle the very practical day-to-day processes teams are involved in," she said. "As a public servant with a policy background always focused on social mobility, I felt this would have a bigger impact on social mobility than policy."

The pair quit their day jobs and used grants to start Applied two years ago. Ms Glazebrook estimated it cost about $300,000 to launch.

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