Welcome back to Tech Forward, listeners! This week I spoke with Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor, technology that mitigates unconscious bias in hiring through artificial intelligence and people analytics. During Stephanie’s 14-year career in the tech industry, she has founded two startups and held technical roles at Lockheed, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor.
Despite a tech background beginning in her teen years, Stephanie still faced hiring bias from recruiters who told her she was “not technical enough,” and tried to steer her towards sales and marketing roles. This was her inspiration to start Blendoor, which enhances the ability of humans to judge other humans based on merits — not molds. On Blendoor, qualified candidates are presented to recruiters with no names, photos, or age listed — just that they are a fit for the role. Once the company selects a candidate, the person’s identity is revealed.
Stephanie designed Blendoor around the idea that certain demographics are disadvantaged, and often very small details can signify someone as a member of such a demographic. Something as simple as someone’s name can indicate race, nationality, religion, class, and more. She chose which aspects of candidates’ identity to mask based on this knowledge. By choosing when to reveal those details, Blendoor can track how far along different demographics of qualified candidates make it in the hiring process. From there, they identify where bias happens and bring some transparency and accountability to the objectivity that recruiters and hiring managers have.
“In the knowledge worker economy, it’s important to hire the smartest and best people. And if you allow your own bias to get in the way of seeing those people, you are handicapping your business. This is not a ‘nice to have.’ This is a ‘need to have.’ ...You are so reliant upon different types of people to drive innovation and marketing and sales. You need to equip yourself with devices that ensure you’re being as objective as possible in your assessment.”
While Blendoor has focused primarily on large tech companies for their initial target market, Stephanie wants her platform to be industry agnostic. They’ll be expanding their scope later this year to include Fortune 500 companies in finance, retail, consulting, and more.
Stephanie, thanks so much for coming onto the show to tell us about your incredible work with Blendoor. Thank you also to all of you out there listening. See you next week!